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Giant 3D tribute to pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing unveiled at GCHQ

·2-min read
 (PA/GCHQ)
(PA/GCHQ)

A giant 3D artwork of pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing has been unveiled at GCHQ as he becomes the first gay man to appear on a UK banknote.  

The 10m by 10m rainbow canvas, inspired by the Pride flag, is at the centre of the intelligence service’s building in Benhall, Gloucestershire known as the Doughnut.

Turing is the father of modern computing, a pioneer in artificial intelligence, and instrumental in breaking the German Enigma codes at Bletchley Park – GCHQ’s wartime home – during the Second World War.  

After his efforts during the Second World War – which are credited with saving millions of lives – Mr Turing was convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man and later committed suicide after undergoing hormone treatment in an attempt to lower his libido.

 (PA/GCHQ)
(PA/GCHQ)

GCHQ Director Jeremy Fleming said: “Alan Turing was a genius who helped to shorten the war and influence the technology that still shapes our lives today. He was embraced for his brilliance but persecuted for being gay.  

“Turing’s legacy reminds us every day that diversity is essential and inclusion is mission critical to our organisation. His appearance on the £50 note is an important moment in ours and this country’s history. Turing was and remains a beacon of hope for all who dare to live and think differently.”   

The artwork, created by artist Joe Hill, features an image of Turing inside  wheels from the British Bombe, the machine he designed to break Enigma-enciphered messages during the war.

The Head of GCHQ’s Pride Network Skylar, whose second name cannot be revealed for security reasons, said Turing was “a role model for many here at GCHQ”.

They added: “I am proud to see GCHQ recognising the importance Alan Turing has for LGBT+ people, owning its shared history with our community and doing so in such a public and bold way.” 

The first £50 notes depicting the famed mathematician will be issued from Wednesday, June 23.

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