The National Science Museum Marks Alan Turing's Birthday
London, UK -- Thursday 21 June 2012-- As the National Science Museum hosts a major new exhibition to mark the centenary of Alan Turing's birth this week, Web of Stories celebrates the groundbreaking work of the father of computer science with video recordings from those who knew him.
Described as a completely original free-thinker, Alan Turing (23 June 1912 - 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker and computer pioneer, credited with masterminding the computer age. In 1936, Turing formulated his ideas for the creation of the Turing Machine, the philosophical principles of which power every computer and smartphone today.
He is most vividly remembered for his work on cryptanalysis during World War II, developing the so-called electro-mechanical Bombe used to determine the correct rotor and plugboard settings of the German Enigma encryptor to decrypt intercepted messages - a development said to have shortened the length of World War II by two years.
Turing was homosexual at a time when this was illegal, and he was criminally prosecuted for his sexuality before he committed suicide in 1954, just two weeks before his 42nd birthday.
Web of Stories has compelling video clips from people who have studied his work or who knew him well, providing an invaluable insight into his life. Mathematician Norman Routledge, who became friends with Turing at Kings College, Cambridge, recalls that he and his friends were not aware of Turing's genius but could appreciate how he stood out from the crowd:
"He was totally original, so untouched by fashion, totally his own man. He invented all his own stuff, it's how he was able to make the breakthrough that he did."
Routledge shares his thoughts on the controversy surrounding his friend's death: "Alan had described, before the war, in Princeton I think, to a friend that he'd worked out a way of committing suicide so that it would be perfectly possible to imagine that this had been an accident. He described precisely the method that he used, and I think for me that settles the question."
Routledge also recounts how Turing had viewed his homosexuality, and the treatment he was forced to have as punishment, rather than face imprisonment. Alongside these personal memories are video recordings from cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky, who discusses the legacy of the Turing Machine.
These captivating videos can be watched as a number of short clips, often with an accompanying fully searchable transcript. All Web of Stories videos are easy to share with friends and colleagues, and may be embedded into personal blogs and websites.