Alan Turing | Science

Computer Genius Alan Turing's Morphogenesis Theory Proven Correct

Alan Turing Morphogenesis

Morphogenisis is the theory created by computer science genius and Nazi Enigma code breaker Alan Turing that the shaping of an organism by embryological processes of differentiation of cells, tissues, and organs and the development of organ systems according to the genetic “blueprint” of the potential organism and environmental conditions. That is, it's the process by which an organism develops its shape.

Until now, morphogenesis was just a theory, but scientists at Brandeis University and the University of Pittsburgh have released their findings from a study that confirm Turing's theory. Using computational tools to analyze rings of synthetic cell-like structures, Drs. Seth Fraden and G. Bard Ermentrout saw not only all six of Turing's predicted patterns play out, but an additional seventh pattern that Turing hadn't predicted. The results could explain biological phenomena such as the pigmentation of seashells to the shapes of flowers and leaves and even the geometric structures seen in drug-induced hallucinations. 

You can read a paper on the research over at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

During World War II, Alan Turing, who is known as the father of modern computing, devised the Turing Bombe, a codebreaking device that was used to decipher the Nazi enigma codes, up to 3,000 messages per day. He was also gay, and two years after being convicted of "gross indecency" for being homosexual and sentenced to undergo hormone therapy, he killed himself with a cyanide-laced apple.

Feed This post's comment feed


  1. You mean "until now morphogenesis was just a hypothesis" not "until now morphogenesis was just a theory".

    Posted by: newsblues | Mar 21, 2014 9:38:12 AM

  2. someone needs to take that first sentence out back and shoot it.

    Posted by: abe | Mar 21, 2014 9:59:23 AM

  3. Yes, I think the first sentence would be considered run-on if it was a complete's missing something and is difficult to read. I love these kind of articles, by the way!

    Posted by: Michael W. | Mar 21, 2014 10:05:28 AM

  4. It is the outsider-ness of being that produced people like Turing and Martine Rothblatt, I know that my own "I don't fit in" is an incredible source of power in my life. I always fear this are towards assimilation is a race to mediocrity.

    As for the science, I don't know if this is news, there has been "proof" of this going back decades, even when I was in grad school in the early 90's.

    Posted by: Nathan | Mar 21, 2014 10:08:07 AM

  5. I think it would be appropriate to state that although his death was recorded as a suicide, there has been much speculation that the British government had a hand in it.
    Being practical, if you were going to take your life with cyanide, you probably wouldn't take the time to lace an apple with it and giving the appearance that it was hidden or concealed. Just sayin'. But we may never know for sure what the motive was, if there was one.

    Posted by: Jere | Mar 21, 2014 10:29:56 AM

  6. That whole first paragraph is a crime against the language.

    Posted by: Jack M | Mar 21, 2014 11:33:19 AM

  7. ATTENTION GRAMMAR NAZIS: Can we please just focus on Turing and his accomplishments? Not everyone is as erudite as you. Some haven't even heard of Alan Turing before. This is a great opportunity to expose them to him and his great achievements. Save the bitching for your weekly coffee klatch. Thanks!

    Posted by: Gigi | Mar 21, 2014 11:55:50 AM

  8. "until now morphogenesis was just a theory"

    And now it turns into... A theory.

    Posted by: Winston | Mar 21, 2014 11:57:53 AM

  9. For anyone interested there is a new edition of ALAN TURING: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Published in 2012, a century after Turing's birth.

    One of my fav books. Not just science, sex. Very good read.

    Posted by: james st. james | Mar 21, 2014 12:01:09 PM

  10. Despite what many people think. Turing's death was fully investigated and found to be a suicide. Many people are not aware that there were follow-up independent investigations.

    Posted by: anon | Mar 21, 2014 1:41:26 PM

  11. Also - "breaker of the Nazi Enigma code" rather than "Nazi Enigma code breaker" which could be read to suggest that Turing was a Nazi. Grammar, as much as some people dislike and/or ignore it, still forms the basis for good writing.

    Posted by: Buster | Mar 21, 2014 1:49:08 PM

  12. Alan Turing should the hero be to gay rights of.

    How's that guys, just the right grammatical pitch doncha think? Pedants.

    I seriously mean that Alan Turing should be known as a singular hero of homosexual existence and history. To me he is the arch icon of both the outsized contribution gay people have made to humankind and, in view of this, a pre-eminent example of the senseless and dastardly persecution of
    gay men and women throughout history.

    His story should be told again and again, from the mountain tops of literature and film, in all truth-telling textbooks and throughout our media for centuries to come.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Mar 21, 2014 2:21:00 PM

  13. I wonder if the UK would now be the center of the world computing industry if they hadn't killed Turing.

    Posted by: Merv | Mar 21, 2014 4:19:19 PM

  14. @Merv: the answer is probably not. Alan Turing came up with key insights about computation in the mathematical sense, but did not develop hardware.

    The computer industry as we know it, with ever increasing speeds and with more and more memory from year to year, was the result of being able to
    shrink the sizes of transistors from year to year,
    starting with the development of the integrated circuit, particularly chips developed by Jack Kilby at Texas Instruments and Robert Noyce at Fairchild Semiconductors. The transistor was developed at Bell Laboratories. The first microprocessor was developed at Intel in 1971 (the 4004, a 4-bit CPU). Here in Silicon Valley, rumor has it that the 4004 was named by wise-guy engineers as a reference to the date James Ussher, the Archbishop of Armagh, deigned to be the start of the world. This bit of humor at the expense of fundamentalists went over the heads of the corporate types in the PR department, who would otherwise react instinctively and kill any such attempts at humor.

    Posted by: Bill | Mar 21, 2014 5:50:48 PM

  15. To the criers of "pedantry": It's not a question of being the Grammar Police. I, for one, approached this story with great interest, and the absence of decent grammar made it almost impossible to understand.

    I read that first "sentence" five times before I gave up. Reporting is supposed to enlighten, not thwart.

    Posted by: Mort | Mar 22, 2014 1:33:44 AM

  16. The thing that is missing from the first sentence is called a verb. Is it too pedantic now to insist that our sentences have verbs? I kept waiting to hear what the theory predicts about the shaping of an organism by embryological processes, but found nothing before getting to the end of the sentence.

    "Morphogenisis is the theory created by computer science genius and Nazi Enigma code breaker Alan Turing that the shaping of an organism by embryological processes of differentiation of cells, tissues, and organs and the development of organ systems according to the genetic “blueprint” of the potential organism and environmental conditions. "

    Posted by: Gotcha | Mar 22, 2014 10:42:52 AM

  17. First sentence forgot a word, maybe "involves"?

    Morphogenisis is the theory created by computer science genius and Nazi Enigma code breaker Alan Turing that [involves] the shaping of an organism by embryological processes...

    Posted by: Mike B | Mar 22, 2014 9:43:54 PM

Post a comment


« «Johnny Weir Spills About Marriage Split; Voronov Blindsided by Divorce« «