Blog: Genius Interrupted; Alan Turing
Alan Turing was an Officer Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He, due to his homosexuality was a convicted criminal due to the Labouchere Amendment, which outlawed homosexual acts. He chose chemical castration rather than face prison.
Most importantly, he is considered a genius as well as the possible godfather of modern computing. This is because it was his mind that broke the famed Enigma code of World War II. For some time, he led the famous HUT8 section of the Government Code and Cypher School, which was charged all code breaking at the time.
Many of his proponents feel that his code breaking skills shortened the war by at least two or more years and saved millions of lives. Without his code breaking skills, the Battle of the Atlantic may have continued as the Wolf Packs would continue to ravage shipping routes.
His genius was also awarded Smith’s Prize in 1936. The Smith Prize(s) are honors that are awarded annually to two research students in mathematics and theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. He was once quoted as saying, “I propose to consider the question, ‘Can machines think?”
Sadly, Alan Turing did not reach his full potential. He died just days before his 42nd birthday in 1954. His death was ruled a suicide by cyanide poisoning. This was a mere 2 years after he was prosecuted.
In 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, mad a full public apology on behalf of the British government for “the appalling way he was treated.” Even more so, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II granted him a full posthumous pardon in 2013.
How many great minds have had to be silenced because of a belief, an orientation, a religion. Sadly, how many great minds have we lost due to stigmas that to with who or what they are? Alan Turing was just one example.
As we go forth into uncharted territory for many, lets remember what Hillel said in Ethics 2:4; “Do not judge your fellow, until you have reached his place.”