Alan Turing Hub

Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1236


PLANK FISHING: Not hard to predict what's about to happen here.

XELLE: "Queen".

CODEBREAKER: Alan Turing documentary premiering this week in NYC and LA.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

Machine Makes Beautiful Music For Gay Computer Scientist Alan Turing: VIDEO


Who knew computers could carry a tune?

To honor the 100th birthday of computer scientist Alan Turing, the gay grandfather of modern technology, researcher Francisco Vico and musician Gustavo Díaz-Jerez, both from the University of Malaga in Spain, created a computer called Iamus that "evolves" its own music and "produces scores that real musicians can play," New Scientist reports.

A recording of Iamus' score Transits Into an Abyss, played by the London Symphony Orchestra, goes on sale next month. In the meantime, you can listen to Iamus' track, "Nasciturus," which means "unborn child," AFTER THE JUMP

Díaz-Jerez is on the harpsichord and Sviatoslav Belonogov works the viola d'amore.

Continue reading "Machine Makes Beautiful Music For Gay Computer Scientist Alan Turing: VIDEO" »

Alan Turing Turns 100: VIDEO

Alan-TuringHappy 100th birthday to Alan Turing: genius, probable aspie, gay man, and savior of Europe.

He was born in London and attended public school in Dorset, where he showed astounding aptitude for math. While there, he began some kind of relationship with fellow pupil Christopher Morcom, who shortly perished from bovine tuberculosis. The boy's death destroyed Turing's religious faith and cemented his belief in materialism, which would inform Turing's later work on computation and his musings on consciousness.

Turing went on to study at King's College, Cambridge, and at the Institute for Advanced Study, at Princeton, where he theorized what came to be known as the "Turing Machine." In 1938, Turing began work for the Government Code and Cypher School, where he concentrated on German Enigma machines -- code-making machines, which in the coming years allowed German military commanders to believe their electronic communications were private. They weren't, because Turing's prodigious cryptological genius had broken the Enigma machines wide open. In particular, he had co-created the Turing-Welchman "bombe," a machine that could rapidly test interpretations of secret Nazi codes and discard false ones. By the end of World War II, there were hundreds of "bombes" in service, and Winston Churchill credited Turing with having provided the single greatest contribution to the Allied war effort.

In the late 1940s, Turing did pioneering work on early computers at England's National Physical Laboratory and the University of Manchester, where he began to think seriously about the nature of intelligence and how it might be emulated by a machine. His writings on the subject gave us the "Turing Test." Towards the end of his life, Turing's mind turned towards solving pernicious problems in plant biology, which he did.

In 1952, Turing brought home a trick: a young man named Arnold Murray. The two had several dates before Murray and an accomplice burglarized Turing's home. Turing reported the matter to the police, to whom he divulged the nature of his and Murray's relationship. As homosexual acts were illegal in England, Turing was charged with and convicted of "gross indecency," and given a choice between imprisonment and chemical castration. Turing chose the latter, and was forced to begin a regimen of synthetic estrogen injections. Turing's government clearances were revoked.

In 1954, Turing died of cyanide poisoning. It was likely intentional -- he died eating an apple, which an inquest determined he'd probably poisoned -- though Turing's mother insisted otherwise.

Since his death, Turing has been written about and lionized endlessly -- almost guiltily. He's the subject of plays, movies, and biographies. Streets are named after him. The Alan Turing Award is the computing word's highest honor, and all modern computers can rightly be considered Turing's technological progeny. In 2009, in response to a petition by John Graham-Cumming, Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued this apology to Turing's ghost:

... The debt of gratitude he is owed makes it all the more horrifying, therefore, that he was treated so inhumanely. In 1952, he was convicted of gross indecency – in effect, tried for being gay.

His sentence – and he was faced with the miserable choice of this or prison – was chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones.

... Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him.

Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted as he was convicted under homophobic laws were treated terribly. Over the years millions more lived in fear of conviction.

This recognition of Alan's status as one of Britain's most famous victims of homophobia is another step towards equality and long overdue.

But even more than that, Alan deserves recognition for his contribution to humankind … It is thanks to men and women who were totally committed to fighting fascism, people like Alan Turing, that the horrors of the Holocaust and of total war are part of Europe's history and not Europe's present.

So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.

Google is celebrating Turing's birthday with a mathy, gnomic tribute-doodle that asks visitors to spell "Google" using binary, and to arrive at the binary characters using a kind of digital mockup of what appears to be a primitive Turing bombe. Try solving it! If you can't, seek instructions AFTER THE JUMP ...



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NEWS: Dick Cheney's Bad Heart, Derek K. Miller's Big Heart, James Cameron's Derring-do, And Rick Santorum


Towleroad-roadicon Rick Santorum wins Louisiana:

With around 60% of the vote in, Santorum held a nearly 2-1 lead over front-runner Mitt Romney. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had 19% of the vote and Texas Rep. Ron Paul had 6%.

Santorum's win was his fourth in the South, where front-runner Mitt Romney has not been able to connect with conservative voters in the region.

Winning Louisiana big will help fuel Santorum's campaign as the conservative alternative to Romney.

"Santorum can't just win, he has to win big. He's the one who needs to shake up this race. Another ho-hum win in the South doesn't cut it. He's on a political bridge to nowhere and is running out of time to change destinations," said Bruce Haynes, a GOP strategist and managing partner of Purple Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs consulting firm, last week.

Towleroad-roadicon Watch his victory speech AFTER THE JUMP ...

Towleroad-roadicon If you haven't yet, why not sign the petition to get Alan Turing on the £10 note?

Towleroad-roadicon Lesbian comedian Stephanie Miller lands a show on Current TV.

Towleroad-roadicon "It Gets Better" in Denmark.

Towleroad-roadicon On Lifetime's Dance Moms, ten-year-olds do a "nude" fan dance. Somehow it's still more dignified than Toddlers & Tiaras.

Towleroad-roadicon New species of hominid may have been unearthed in China:

The bones—a partial skull, skull cap, jaws and teeth—came from Longlin Cave in Guangxi Province and Malu Cave inYunnan Province, and date to  11,500 to 14,300 years ago. In comparing the Chinese bones with those of recent humans, H. sapiens living during the Pleistocene, Neanderthals and Homo erectus, the researchers concluded the Chinese fossils have a unique mix of modern features and traits rarely, if ever, seen in recent and Pleistocene humans, such as a very broad face and a protruding jaw.

Imgres Towleroad-roadicon Dick Cheney got a new heart today.

Towleroad-roadicon Will shutting down the "adult" section of curb child sex trafficking? Of course not.

Towleroad-roadicon James Cameron will soon make the deepest-ever manned submarine dive into the most forbidding reaches of the Marianis Trench. His submarine, Deepsea Challenger, has successfully completed its first unmanned test-dive, descending nearly seven miles into the sea

Towleroad-roadicon The Best Longform Journalism: Obituaries. This is a collection of obituaries, alternately horrifying, hilarious, and beautiful. One is an auto-obituary by Derek K. Miller, published to his blog shortly after his death from colorectal cancer:

The world, indeed the whole universe, is a beautiful, astonishing, wondrous place. There is always more to find out. I don't look back and regret anything, and I hope my family can find a way to do the same.

What is true is that I loved them. Lauren and Marina, as you mature and become yourselves over the years, know that I loved you and did my best to be a good father.

Airdrie, you were my best friend and my closest connection. I don't know what we'd have been like without each other, but I think the world would be a poorer place. I loved you deeply, I loved you, I loved you, I loved you.

Continue reading "NEWS: Dick Cheney's Bad Heart, Derek K. Miller's Big Heart, James Cameron's Derring-do, And Rick Santorum" »

UK Government Won't Pardon the Late Alan Turing

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.

TuringPetitioners recently collected more than 20,000 signatures in an effort to get the UK government to officially pardon Turing.

That won't happen, the BBC reports, as Justice Minister Lord McNally dismissed the motion in the House of Lords:

Mr Turing was one of the key members of the staff at Bletchley Park that worked to crack the German's Enigma codes, and Lord McNally acknowledged that in light of this work he had been treated harshly by the authorities.

"It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence which now seems both cruel and absurd, particularly... given his outstanding contribution to the war effort," he said.

"However, the law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times."

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an apology to Turing in 2009.

Turing's life may soon be the subject of a film, and rumor has it that Leonardo DiCaprio is interested.

Alan Turing, Gay Father Of Computer Science, To Be Featured On New British Stamp

AlanturingpaintingAlan Turing was once a hero in England. He helped the government crack German Codes during World War II and developed the Turing Machine, laying the framework for today's modern computers and was generally regarded as one of the nation's brightest stars.

Then, in 1952, Turing was outed, leading to a very public trial, conviction and chemically castrated for "gross indecency." He killed himself two years later.

Now, 60 years on, the British government is honoring Turing by including him in a series of twelve new "Britons of Distinction" stamps set to be released next month.

George Broadhead, secretary of the Humanist group the Pink Triangle Trust, celebrated Turing's inclusion in a press release. "This is richly deserved," he wrote. "It is well known that Turing was gay, but perhaps not so well known that he was a staunch atheist. There are many other famous gay atheists past and present — Christopher Marlowe, Maynard Keynes, Stephen Fry and and Michael Cashman among them — but Turing is probably the most notable since his breaking of the Enigma Code went such a long way in saving the UK from defeat in the last war."

Though Turing's picture is not featured on the new stamp - one of his eponymous machines is, instead - the news is just the latest step in a decades-long effort to redeem Turing's image. Perhaps the biggest development came in 2009, when then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued an official apology for Turing's treatment.

"While Mr Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him," Brown said at the time. "Alan and the many thousands of other gay men who were convicted, as he was convicted, under homophobic laws, were treated terribly.

A new petition is now asking that the government to offer an official posthumous pardon for Turing. One of Turing's supporters, programmer John Graham-Cumming, actually opposes this petition, because it still assumes other gay men convicted under since-scrapped laws were guilty of something wrong.

"You either pardon all the gay men convicted (including, most importantly, those that are still living with criminal convictions) or you do nothing," he contended last month.


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