10 things you probably didn’t know about Alan Turing

10 Facts about Alan Turing

On June 23, 1912, in London, Alan Turing was born. Turing, an English mathematician, cryptographer, and logician, made revolutionary discoveries that helped the Allies win World War 2. Personal decipherment of the Nazi Enigma Code, employed by German U-boats to prey on North Atlantic trade convoys, was a turning point in Turing’s career. The encrypted data let convoys from North America avoid German U-boats carrying missiles, allowing them to transport vital supplies to Allied forces in Europe. This was a valuable contribution.

Turing committed suicide at the young age of 41, not long after being revealed to be gay, a few years after the end of the war in 1954. He passed away when homosexuality was illegal in England. But even now, more than 60 years after Turing’s passing, people still find him interesting. There have been operas, plays, books, musical CDs, and films based on Turing’s life. The Imitation Game, a recent movie starring Benedict Cumberbatch, featured one of Turing’s best-known quotes.

The media ignores numerous aspects of Alan Turing’s life and history. The ten things that follow provide information regarding Alan Turing’s genuine legacy and his impact.

#1. He was featured on a Polymer £50 note and recognised as the Father of Modern Computer Science

Alan Turing and illustrations of his work will be featured on a new £50 polymer note, the Governor of the Bank of England said at the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester. For context, Turing was chosen from a pool of 227,299 nominees submitted to the Bank of England.

Turing was chosen because he invented the code-breaking technology that helped win the war, provided theoretical support for the modern computer, and defended homosexuality. His legacy is still having an effect on society and science today. The Bank of England’s Governor at the time, Mark Carney, stated: “Alan Turing was an exceptional mathematician whose work has had a tremendous impact on how we live today. In addition to being a military hero, Alan Turing is recognised as the Father of Computer Science and artificial intelligence.

#2. After being found guilty of gross indecency, he was chemically castrated

After reporting a break-in incident at his house in 1952, Turing was taken into custody. The police found out while they were looking into Turing, Turing was dating Arnold Murray, a 19-year-old. Turing was arrested instead of dealing with the burglary. He insisted there was nothing improper with what he did but never refuted the claims that resulted in his imprisonment. The courts, however, had other ideas, and Turing was found guilty of gross indecency, a crime that at the time carried a life sentence. Judges did not typically impose life sentences, preferring instead to impose punishments like hard labour or chemical castration. Turing’s solicitors at the time urged him to file a guilty plea, and he agreed to chemical castration.

Turing received a series of hormone injections as part of his punishment, which made him impotent. Because of his treatments, Turing had an oestrogen and testosterone hormone imbalance. The imbalance caused Turing to experience gynaecomastia, or breast development.

#3. He was Honest about his Sexual Orientation

While a student at King’s College in Cambridge, Alan Turing was honest about his sexual orientation and never kept it a secret from his friends. In order to promote LGBT rights, he even travelled to Norway and the Mediterranean. The first thing Turing explained upon his 1952 arrest for gross indecency was “This shouldn’t be against the law.” He also made an unapologetic statement later on following the arrest, declaring openly that he was proud of his homosexuality. Turing was open about the trial and discussed it with coworkers in the computer lab at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington while making fun of the ridiculousness of the law.

#4. There was a law named after Alan Turing in the UK

Following the introduction of measures in both the House of Lords and the Parliament, Turing received a posthumous royal pardon in December 2013, nearly 60 years after his conviction and death. Soon after Alan Turing’s pardon, there were requests to pardon further individuals. Almost 640,000 people signed a petition that was started in 2015 with this objective in mind. On January 31, 2017, a historic change in UK legislation resulted from the petition. Pardons for persons convicted of consensual same-sex partnerships were codified in law when the Policing and Crime Bill was introduced and granted Royal Assent. “Turing’s Law” was the term given to the law, which was named after Turing. Government intervention allowed for the legislation, which resulted in the living receiving statutory pardons. This will only be applicable, though, if offenders have been granted release from prior convictions through the Home Office’s disregard procedure. 

#5. He might not have ended his life

At the age of 41, Alan Turing died of cyanide poisoning. It is generally believed that he died by suicide because of the emotional stress of his conviction. When Turing was convicted, he lost his security clearance, which prevented him from participating in covert operations during the Cold War. Turing became angry and resentful as a result of feeling left out. He was thus rendered powerless by his conviction, which also barred him from leaving the country.

But not everyone agrees that he committed suicide. Suicide was not clearly indicated by the evidence. According to Jack Copeland, the proof that declared Alan Turing dead would not be sufficient to end the case today. Additionally, the evidence of the half-eaten apple at his bedside that was allegedly the cause of the poisoning was never tested for cyanide. The inquest that found the cause of his death noted that the evidence was also compatible with accidental poisoning. This view of his passing was shared by Turing’s mother, who at the time said that he most likely accidentally poisoned himself while doing experiments. It was well known that Turing was negligent with safety precautions and frequently tasted substances while attempting to identify them.

#6. A runner at the Olympic level

Turing discovered a liking for jogging when a student at King’s College and carried it throughout his life. His 10-mile run from the National Physical Laboratory to the electronics building on Dollis Hill is what made him famous. He joined jogging groups and developed into a talented amateur. One of his greatest running achievements was finishing fifth in a 1948 Olympic qualifying marathon. In two hours and forty-six minutes, he completed the race. Only 11 minutes separated this time from the Olympic champion.

When asked why he runs so frequently, Alan Turing responded, “I have such a stressful job that the only way I can get it out of my mind is by running hard,” according to the Walton Athletic Club’s secretary. Turing was also known to periodically run the 40-mile distance between London and Bletchley Park for meetings when he wasn’t competing.

#7. He cycled 62 miles on his first day of school

At the age of 14, Alan Turing made an effort to board a train in order to attend his first day of boarding school. But on that day, there were a number of train strikes in the UK, which led to cancellations and delays in train service. Alan Turing chose to ride his bicycle an incredible 62 kilometres rather than turning around and returning home.

#8. Was a pioneer in Artificial Intelligence

Alan Turing took part in philosophical talks about whether or not robots could think like human brains. During this time, he came up with a test for artificial intelligence called “the imitation game.” The test’s name was changed to “The Turing Test” after a while. An interviewer does the test by himself or herself by asking questions of another person and a computer. Lastly, the person asking the question must be able to tell the difference between computer and human answers. If the machine can fool the interrogator, that means it is smart.

#9. Created the first-ever Chess game on a Computer

Alan Turing was inspired by the chess players he worked with at Bletchley Park, where he was doing his job. Alan Turing developed an algorithm for a computer chess game called the “paper machine.” But when he made the programme, no machine could figure out how to use it. So, Alan Turing would used paper and pencil to act as the human CPU. Alan Turing had to use the formula for more than half an hour to figure out each move.

He beat a beginner chess player in the first game he played using the algorithm. But when he tried to use the programme against Alick Glennie, a more skilled chess player, he lost.

#10. He established the Modern Computer

The concept of computer memory was basically invented by Alan Turing in 1936. He wrote a paper titled “On Computable Numbers,” which has been recognised as the foundational text of the modern computer era. The basic premise of Alan Turing’s article was that, in the future, people will be able to create machines that could calculate any problem that a person could solve using 0s and 1s. The basis for creating the digital computer was established by the knowledge Alan Turing published on using single computers to perform multiple jobs and memory storage.

In 1945, while employed by the UK’s National Physical Laboratory, Alan Turing created the Automatic Computing Machine. Programmes might be electronically stored on the device. Computers did not previously have the ability to store data electronically, therefore switching between programmes required laborious wiring.

Alan Turing is the founder of Modern Computer Science

The impact of  Alan Turing’s contributions to modern society—from defeating the Nazi plan during World War II to defending his freedom to be gay—will likely never be fully understood by the majority of people. His accomplishments continue even after his tragic passing.

The legacy of ingenuity and morality that Alan Turing left behind is absolutely remarkable. It’s wonderful to see that his legacy is preserved by the fact that he appears on the new £50 note and is remembered by a statue in Manchester’s Sackville Park. He is a legendary member of the LGBT community who has justifiably asserted his status as the founder of modern computer science.

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