Alan Turing’s 99th Birthday

I can’t bring myself to say Happy Birthday Alan Turing, for Turing was definitely not a happy man towards the end of  his life. All his contributions science and society amounted to naught when he was persecuted for his homosexuality, eventually driving him to suicide. What that brilliant mind could have contributed to society beyond his 42nd year, when he was driven to take his own life. During the 42 years of his life, he gave us the the Turing machine, formalized the concept of algorithms, helped crack the German Enigma cipher — saving countless lives on the allied side and by all accounts helping win the war in the Atlantic. He also designed the earliest stored program computer, and even wrote a seminal paper on morphogenesis — he became interested in biology in his latter days.

And those are just the highlights. A bleak example of how bigotry which demeans and devastates a person, demeans and devastates society. We are all the poorer for having lost Turing at such a young  age.

Hyperboloids of wondrous Light
Rolling for aye through Space and Time
Harbour those Waves which somehow Might
Play out God’s holy pantomime

Alan Turing c. 1954


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