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Campaign to put Alan Turing on a £10 note fails

David Beckham still in the running
Thu Mar 21 2013, 12:09
Alan Turing was born in 1912 and is heralded as the father of modern computing

THE PETITION to celebrate Alan Turing's life by placing his face on a ten pound note has closed with not enough votes to move forward.

As the number of signatures hit 10,000, some time ago, it was entered on a list that the Bank of England manages.

"This has been including historic characters on its notes since 1970. The Bank welcomes suggestions from members of the public for individuals who might feature on future banknotes, and publishes a list of these suggestions on its website. These suggestions inform the process when a new note is under consideration," says a note on the petition.

We've looked at the list of suggestions. It includes David Beckham, Robbie Williams and Terry Wogan (PDF).

The online petition would have needed 100,000 signatures to pass onto a stage where a debate by the Backbench Business Committee would have debated its merit. Unfortunately, the petition only managed to get around 28,000 digital signees.

The poll's instigator Thomas Thurman argues that Turing is a national hero and deserves the honour because the English mathematician and logician's contribution to computer science by formalising some of the basic concepts of computing was "incalculable".

There is no doubt that Turing, who designed the eponymous Turing machine construct to represent a computing device, was a key figure in the development of what we know today as computer science.

Turing came to prominence as a polymath who broke the German Enigma encryption codes at the Bletchley Park intelligence centre during World War II, helping to turn the tide of the war in the allies' favour.

The ripple-effects of his theories on modern life continue to grow and might never end, the petition argued. "The current Bank of England £10 notes are Series E, but Series F notes are already in circulation for some denominations. We therefore call upon the Treasury to request the Bank of England to consider depicting Alan Turing when Series F £10 banknotes are designed."

The petition comes after the launch of a campaign in 2010 to buy the World War II code breaker's papers at a Christie's auction.

Turing's papers were saved last year when an eleventh hour intervention by the National Heritage Memorial Fund finally coughed up a £200,000 donation. µ


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