Alan Turing

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Alan Turing

Post  eddie on Sat Nov 12, 2011 10:45 pm

My hero: Alan Turing, by Alan Garner

'The Official Secrets Act revealed his true heroism'

Alan Garner
guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 November 2011 22.56 GMT


Alan Turing … 'He was funny and witty and he talked endlessly.' Photograph: National Portrait Gallery, London


In the 1950s I was an athlete. Those were the days before joggers clogged the highway, so it was unusual for me to see another runner when I was training. We fell into the habit of meeting up and pounding the miles together for company.

He was stocky, barrel-chested, with a high-pitched, donnish voice and the aerodynamics of a brick. He was funny and witty and he talked endlessly, but I understood very little of what he was saying, and it became clear that he ran in order to think. He seemed to be obsessed by mathematics and biology. That much I could work out.

We had one thing in common: a fascination with Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, especially the transformation of the Wicked Queen into the Witch. He used to go over the scene in detail, dwelling on the ambiguity of the apple, red on one side, green on the other, one of which gave death. We had both been traumatised by Walt.

On one occasion he asked me whether, in my opinion as a classical linguist, artificial intelligence was possible. After a couple of miles of silence I said that, in my opinion, it was not. And that was that.

He killed himself when an ignorant and uncouth judge gave him the choice of a prison sentence or chemical castration; and I was overwhelmed by fury at the salacious, gloating humiliation imposed on my friend, and by a sense of guilt that I did not, could not, help him; which lasted for decades, and was made only worse when the Official Secrets Act revealed his true heroism.

He died of cyanide poisoning. By his body was an apple, partly eaten. The apple was not tested for cyanide. His name was Alan Turing.

• Alan Garner's Collected Folk Tales is published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

eddie
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Re: Alan Turing

Post  LaRue on Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:37 am

Alan Turing is one of my favourte mathematians. He's just brilliant. I actually work at Bletchley Park on the weekends as a volunteer. Well worth a visit if you'r ever in the area.

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Re: Alan Turing

Post  eddie on Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:01 pm

A tragic story. He saves the world from Nazism by helping to crack the German WWII Enigma code and is then driven to suicide by a legal system that doesn't acknowledge his sexuality.

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Re: Alan Turing

Post  eddie on Tue Jan 03, 2012 1:31 am

Codebreaker Alan Turing gets stamp of approval

Gay mathematician convicted of gross indecency in 1952 among those to be celebrated in Royal Mail stamps in 2012

Caroline Davies

The Guardian, Monday 2 January 2012


In 2009, Gordon Brown issued an unequivocal apology to Alan Turing (above), saying the country owed him a huge debt.

The mathematician and second world war codebreaker Alan Turing is to be celebrated on a special stamp as an online petition calls for a posthumous pardon to quash his conviction for gross indecency.

The computer pioneer is one of 10 prominent people chosen for the Royal Mail's Britons of Distinction stamps, to be launched in February, which includes the allied war heroine Odette Hallowes of the Special Operations Executive, composer Frederick Delius and architect Sir Basil Spence, to mark the golden jubilee of Coventry Cathedral.

Turing worked as part of the team that cracked the Enigma code at Bletchley Park, and went on to help create the world's first modern computer. This year marks the centenary of his birth.

He was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, when homosexual acts were illegal in the UK, and sentenced to chemical castration. He killed himself two years later by taking cyanide. The e-petition says his treatment and death "remains a shame on the UK government and UK history".

In 2009, the then prime minister Gordon Brown issued an unequivocal apology on behalf of the government to Turing, describing his treatment as "horrifying" and "utterly unfair". Brown said the country owed him a huge debt.

Hallowes, who was born in Amiens, France, in April 1912 and married an Englishman in 1931, was awarded the George Cross (the only woman to receive the honour while alive) and the Légion d'honneur for her work in Nazi occupied France.

She was imprisoned, tortured and condemned to death in 1943 after being betrayed, but survived Ravensbrück concentration camp and the war. She died in 1995 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey.

The Olympic Games and the Queen's diamond jubilee also feature in the 2012 special stamp programme.

House of Windsor stamps will feature the five monarchs from the start of the 20th century, with the Queen taking pride of place on the final stamp to mark the 60th year of her reign. A special miniature sheet issued on 6 February will bring together six portraits of her taken from stamps, coinage and banknotes.

Giant peaches and a famous chocolate factory will feature in a set of six stamps on 10 January to celebrate the work of Roald Dahl.

The first of several stamp issues to mark the London Games go on sale on 5 January. Other stamp subjects during the year include Charles Dickens, born 200 years ago this year, great British fashion, comics, dinosaurs, space science and classic locomotives of Scotland.

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