Alan Turing was a great scientist who did a lot to advance the fields of cryptography, artificial intelligence and automated problem solving (anything a modern computer can do can be accomplished by something he invented called a Turing machine). So he was one of the biggest influences on the field of computer science in the 20th century. How does his government thank him? They arrest him for being a homosexual, take away his security clearance and his right to continue his work and force him to take drugs that increase testosterone production which not only do not ‘cure’ his homosexuality but lead him to depression and eventually suicide by cyanide poisoning in 1954. Thank you British government, thank you Christian religion, thank you bigots and homophobes of the world for reminding me once again that it is a cold, cruel and unfair planet, I almost succeeded in making myself forget about that.
Boy, on CNN this morning, it was reported that Galileo has been ARRESTED for heresy!
WHAT? Alan Turing DIED? When did this happen? Oh, about 50 years ago?
Let me guess, you just read about this somewhere and wanted to share. Yeah, it sucked, and he could’ve been doing great things for mathematics and computer science. It’s a shame all right.
And didja hear the latest? Socrates was forced to commit suicide!
Extra! Extra! Man lands on Moon! Read all about it!
What?! Socrates committed suicide? But I just bought his latest album! You know, one of those wee pick me ups - I’ve been bummed since I found out about Joan of Arc, and now this…
Our own Jin Wicked did an excellent tribute to Turing when she became facinated with his story.
Yeah, and poor old Galois…
Personal trivium alert: Alan Turing taught the Professor who taught me (15 years ago). Note to non-British readers: here the title of Professor is only given at the most senior level, though this may be changing.
And as for poor scientists, how about Archimedes?
Why is everyone being so nasty and condescending toward the O.P.?
Because this happened 50-odd years ago?
Oyvey! Moses is dead!
I’m wondering the same thing, Snooooopy.
The fact that this happened 50+ years ago doesn’t make it any less tragic.
Welcome to the SDMB, faldureon!
Statute of limitations on outrage of course Snooooopy.
Good to know when it is no longer acceptable to find things, well, unacceptable. Hell, there is stuff that happened hundreds of years ago that people are still pissed over, I will be sure to let them know of the new rule.
Turing’s fate may have been tragic, but the childish, self indulgent (mankind sucks) tone of the OP that laundry lists the usual opressive suspects before falling prostrate in moral agony that their illusions about a kinder, gentler world have been dashed by this historical tragedy. It’s just too much drama.
I have to ask, I thought Turing was forced to undergo a complete sex change operation?
Or was that someone else?
Thanks for the heads up.
Hmm well I didn’t expect that much feedback but I get the feeling some clarification is due. I have taken many a computer science class (way too many) and heard Turing’s name many times. So today I’m idly browsing the web and find out what happened to him. And this infuriates me despite it happening 49 years ago. And then I look around and realize that if a government smart enough to colonize almost the entire world (the Brits) does a thing like that then there really is not much to hope for as far as people with governments far inferior to that of Great Britain are concerned. So I post the OP still genuinely upset about the issue. It may have been a little too sobby but that’s just me when injustice is of issue.
PS Astro it’s easy for you to talk about being childish, self indulgent and having too much drama. Things are simpler when you live in Maryland and have access to drive through liquor stores. Unfortunately here in VA we have no such luxury so sometimes we get a little emotional.
I didn’t think that I was being nasty. To be honest, I thought that he would be genuinely interested in Jin Wicked’s tribute through her art and the write up she did explaining the inspiration. If it seemed nasty, well, I guess I offer an apology. But boy, linking to art never seemed nasty or condescending to me…
Well, if we’re still talking about other scientists who never got their due, the one I always think of is Ignaz Semmelweis. He’s the Hungarian guy who discovered germs back in the 1850’s, and tried to convince doctors to wash their hands between autopsies and delivering babies. Nobody believed him, and everyone laughed at his theories: “GERMS? Tiny creatures you can’t even see? How can THOSE possibly kill you? HAHAHA!!” Poor guy wound up in a mental hospital, and ultimately committed suicide by cutting his finger with a dirty knife, which got infected and killed him.
Worst of all, he didn’t even get credit when later scientists discovered that his theories actually had merit. The big money and fame instead went to PASTEURization and LISTERine.
There’s a scene I remember from the old TV show Emergency! (of all things): Johnny & Roy try to build a new type of fire extinguisher for an inventor’s contest, which turns into a complete disaster – the machine blows up, and nearly burns the firehouse down. One of the other firemen tells them:
"Did you know that most inventors died broke, or in jail? I think every inventor has to first ask him one question: Is the world ready for me?"
Turing was required to take various hormonal/steroid type drugs; supposedly these were to “cure” him of being homosexual. (Rather crude versions of the drugs used by pre-operative transexuals today). Side effects from these drugs caused certain changes in his body (for example, his breasts started to enlarge, testicals began to shrink, beard & chest hair died out).
So while he did not have any actual operation, the drugs did cause changes in sex-related parts of his body. (And this certainly didn’t help with the depression he was suffering from.)