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  • 10 Interesting Facts About Alan Turing

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    Alan Turing (1912-1954) was a renowned British mathematician, logician, computer scientist and war hero. Recognized as the father of computer science, his contributions include the development of the Turing machine, which established the theoretical foundations of modern computing. In the course of World War II, Turing played a pivotal role in spearheading initiatives to decrypt German secret codes, making a substantial contribution to the triumph of the Allied forces.

    1.Child prodigy

    Born in London’s Maida Vale on June 23, 1912, Alan Turing showed signs of genius from an early age. In 1926, when Alan Turing was 13, he entered a renowned school in England, Sherborne School, but, coincidentally, on the first day of school there was a strike, which paralyzed the trains and the school was approximately 100 kilometers away. However, Alan’s determination was such that it wasn’t enough to stop him – he cycled the distance.

    2.Alan Turing athlete

    Alan Turing liked to run from the time he was a child. During the Second World War, he would run as far as 60 km to attend meetings. He even took part in the 1948 Olympics, but ended up injuring his leg, which put an end to his career as an athlete.

    3.Different habits

    Turing always tied his mug to the heater when he wasn’t using it, to prevent his coworkers from using it too. When Turing rode his bike, the chain always came off, but instead of trying to fix it, he just memorized when the chain would come off, so he would get off his bike to fix it before it came off. Another curiosity is that he wore a gas mask when cycling, claiming it was because of his allergies.

    4.Enigma

    Throughout World War II, Alan Turing was hired to lead a team to decipher the messages generated by Enigma, a German encryption machine. Despite the difficulties, Turing, together with the team, developed a machine called “Bombe”, which was able to decipher the German encryption. It is estimated that thanks to this, the duration of the war was reduced by two years and more than 14 million deaths were prevented.

    5.Arrested for “gross indecency”

    Alan was homosexual, but as it was a crime in the UK at the time, he had a relationship with his work colleague and they came close to getting married, but when he told her he was homosexual, she decided to break off the relationship. He then became involved with a young man called Arnold Murray, Murray’s friend broke into Turing’s house and reported him to the police.

    Convicted of “gross indecency” in 1952 because of his sexual orientation, perhaps because he had been an important player in the war, he was offered release if he underwent chemical castration, which subsequently made him impotent, he gained weight, developed breasts and depression, all of which affected Turing’s security credibility, affecting his career and his position in society.

    6.Poisoned apple

    Turing was discovered deceased in his bed alongside a partially eaten apple. His death was ruled a suicide due to the ingestion of cyanide, but no test was carried out on the apple to check for the presence of the substance in the object. He also had a routine of eating an apple before bedtime, it wasn’t unusual to have an apple half eaten.

    These facts gave rise to suspicions that it was actually an accident, perhaps he had contaminated himself in some experiment. After questioning the coroner, he believes it is more plausible that he had accidentally inhaled cyanide fumes. Alan Turing had a device that used potassium cyanide to dissolve gold, which strengthened the theory that it was an accidental death.

    There is also a conspiracy theory that, as Turing worked with highly secretive matters, the British authorities were afraid that he would be apprehended on the basis of his homosexuality, and that they would take information from him, so in order to silence him, they murdered him.

    7.Secrets revealed

    Despite all the role he played against the Germans and in computer science itself, no one knew about his achievements at the time; the information was kept confidential until 1970. But Alan Turing’s contribution to computer science and his role in breaking the Enigma code were only widely recognized and celebrated from the 1990s onwards, and since then he has become an iconic figure in the history of computing and the Second World War.

    8.Royal pardon

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a formal apology to Alan Turing on September 10, 2009, in response to a petition by British programmer John Graham-Cumming, urging the British government to rectify the unjust accusation of Turing’s homosexuality. However, the long-awaited royal pardon for Turing’s “gross indecency” conviction was granted only on Christmas Eve 2013 by Queen Elizabeth II.

    9.Turing’s Law

    It wasn’t until 1967 that UK law stopped making homosexuality a crime. However, only in 2017 did a law cancel the conviction of all those men who were unjustly persecuted before the end of homophobic legislation. Around 15,000 of the 65,000 men convicted at the time are still alive. The law was named after the most famous victim of institutionalized homophobia in England.

    10.Biologist Turing

    In the field of biology, Alan Turing published only one paper, in which he proposed that patterns such as spots on animal skins (zebra, jaguar, tiger, giraffe, etc…) are formed as a result of two chemical substances, one acting as an activator and the other as an inhibitor. For the time being, science has not been able to prove Turing’s study, which means that many scientists remain skeptical about it, especially since there are other more plausible theories.

    Read also: 4 Important Sides of Artificial Intelligence That We’re Not Seeing.

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    Helena Harper

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