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This article was published on July 16, 2019


There’s a secret hidden inside the binary code on Alan Turing’s new £50 note

Here's how to decipher it

There’s a secret hidden inside the binary code on Alan Turing’s new £50 note
Mix
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Mix

Former TNW Writer

Mix is a tech writer based in Amsterdam that loves cinema and probably hates the movies that you like. Tell him everything you despise about Mix is a tech writer based in Amsterdam that loves cinema and probably hates the movies that you like. Tell him everything you despise about his work on Twitter.

On July 15, the Bank of England revealed Alan Turing, a pioneer of computer science and artificial intelligence, will be the face of the new £50 note. One thing the announcement didn’t touch on, however, is that there’s a witty easter egg permanently embedded in the note’s design.

The note, which will be printed on polymer, has a ticker tape showing a binary code: 1010111111110010110011000. You can see the the code to the left of Turing’s photo.

While the number might seem random at first, it actually contains a piece of information about Turing’s life, as spotted by eagle-eyed Twitter users.

When converted, the binary code reveals Turing’s birth date in decimals – 23061912 or June 23, 1912.

You can easily confirm this yourself. Here’s how:

  • Use any binary to decimal converter (we used RapidTables in this case)
  • Enter the code from the note: 1010111111110010110011000
  • Convert it to decimal
  • If accurate, the converter should return the following number: 23061912

Pretty cool, right?

For those living under a rock, Turing carved his name in history with his contributions to the electromechanical machine that broke Hitler’s Enigma code system during World War II.

The Turing photo featured on the note dates back to 1951, a year before he was prosecuted for “homosexual activity” in 1952 and three years before he died from poisoning in 1954 – a death that has since been deemed a suicide.

But despite the injustices he suffered, Turing will live on as one of the greatest computing pioneers history has ever known.

01010010 01100101 01110011 01110100 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01110000 01100101 01100001 01100011 01100101 00101100 00100000 01000001 01101100 01100001 01101110 00100000 01010100 01110101 01110010 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100001

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