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Alan Turing beats Stephen Hawking, Ada Lovelace for spot on UK £50 note

The World War II mathematician, who helped break Germany's Enigma Code, beat 989 scientists to earn legal tender immortality.

The Bank Of England Reveals New Character For The £50 Note
Bank of England governor Mark Carney reveals the new £50 note, featuring Alan Turing.
Getty Images

Alan Turing, the UK mathematician whose work paved the way for modern computing and helped break the Nazis' Enigma Code during World War II, will grace the Bank of England's new £50 note. Bank of England governor Mark Carney revealed the note, which should go into circulation by the end of 2021, at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester on Monday.

"As the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, as well as a war hero, Alan Turing's contributions were far ranging and path breaking," Carney said. "Turing is a giant on whose shoulders so many now stand."

His main claim to fame came from his codebreaking work at Bletchley Park, which was brought to the silver screen in 2014's The Imitation Game. (He was played by Benedict Cumberbatch.)

Now playing: Watch this: This is how the Nazi Enigma machine works

However, Turing played a major role in developing early computers at the National Physical Laboratory and the University of Manchester. He also questioned whether or not machines could think, kicking off the notion of what we now call AI. 

Despite this work, he was persecuted for being homosexual and died in 1954 at the age of 41 after eating an apple laced with cyanide. He was pardoned by the Queen in 2014, and legislation pardoning men convicted of now-abolished same-sex criminal offenses was named "Turing's Law" in his honor.

For the spot on the £50 note, Turing was up against Stephen Hawking (who was previously the favorite), Mary Anning, Paul Dirac, Rosalind Franklin, William Herschel and Caroline Herschel, Dorothy Hodgkin, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, James Clerk Maxwell, Srinivasa Ramanujan, Ernest Rutherford and Frederick Sanger.

In 2012, Google celebrated Turing's 100th birthday with a terribly clever Doodle.

First published at 5:33 a.m. PT.
Updated at 6:28 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.