The new UK £ 50 note is not just “plastic” – it will be harder to counterfeit and is a tribute to Alan Turing
Several are the countries that are transitioning to banknotes made from a plastic polymer, and in fact in the United Kingdom they began to be used in 2016 in that 5 pound note that had a “secret function” as a vinyl player.
Now 50 pound bills arrive, and they do it with new anti-counterfeiting measures and with a very special protagonist: the scientist Alan Turing, considered the father of modern computing.
A well deserved tribute to a scientist who changed the world
The mathematician who “won a war” was the primarily responsible for getting Enigma deciphered in World War II, but that feat did not free him from the terrible prejudices that existed against homosexuality at that time: he was convicted of what was then a crime and had to undergo chemical castration to avoid prison. Two years later he would commit suicide with cyanide.
This tragedy took more than 60 years to repair. Turing received the royal pardon of Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 –his legend it had already been evident for a long time—, and now this country has paid him a clear tribute by using his image for the new 50 pound polymer banknote which will premiere on June 23, 2023, the day Turing was born. The date of your birth (June 23, 1912), by the way, will be included in each ticket in the form of binary numbers.
Polymer banknotes they are more durable than paper ones and they stay in better condition during use, as well as integrating a tactile feature so that blind people can more easily differentiate between them.
This note will complete the full transition to polymer that has been made with the £ 5 (Churchill), £ 10 (Austen) and £ 20 (Turner) notes. The 50 pound paper notes will continue to be used as usual, and the UK Government will notify its withdrawal six months in advance when it is decided to make the full transition to the new banknotes.
They are, almost unintentionally, more difficult to fake than ever
Although the polymer banknotes they are more difficult to fake, they have certainly appeared Attempts to do so, for example, in Australia, which has been using this type of banknote for a longer time.
Each of the new banknotes It also has other security measures with a unique “fingerprint” that validates it as legitimate. A group of researchers from the Warwick University has discovered that in fact that fingerprint it is involuntary because it is a small defect introduced during the manufacturing process of these polymer banknotes.
As each banknote is manufactured, the application of a critical layer of the process called opacity recovery causes small impurities to appear in the ink, which is dispersed randomly producing translucent patterns that can be revealed when exposed to a bright light source.
Although these imperfections do not seem to have much relevance in conjunction with the rest of the elements that make up the banknote, they end up creating a kind of fingerprint that is unique and that allows you to differentiate a legitimate ticket from a counterfeit one.
The problem is that to identify them you have to create something like a database with all those fingerprints related to the serial number of each banknote, something that would allow locating counterfeits.
The scientists who have discovered this curious feature believe that this process would not be as complex as it seems, and all the “footprints” could be stored as vectors of 256 bytes each and would occupy only 1 terabyte of storage.
More information | Bank of England