27 November 2014

Turing

Alan Turing 1912-1954
I must say that I really enjoyed "The Imitation Game" starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing. But who was Alan Turing?

Born into a wealthy Anglo-Indian family in 1912, he was very probably highly autistic and as such had an abnormal passion for mathematics and cryptanalytic problem solving. When World War II came along he found himself drafted into Britain's codebreaking centre at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.

There his mission was to solve the Enigma Code that had been developed by Nazi Germany to transmit encrypted messages of a secret, military nature. And do you know what, he solved it! This achievement shortened the war and saved the lives of millions of innocent people.

There are many kinds of hero. Most likely we think of individual soldiers from different historical eras bravely battling forward with sword, blunderbuss or machine gun to slay the cruel enemy and thereby save his comrades in arms. We are less likely to think of a socially inadequate homosexual geek from the Home Counties messing about with a very early computer and bumbling through life. For that was Alan Turing.

Previously, I never thought much of Benedict Cumberbatch but in this film he shows a convincing allegiance with the difficult character he was portraying. Awkward and bumbling, eccentric and painfully clever - to Mr Cumberbatch I say bravo and to Mr Turing I say - thank you, thank you for your genius. You are a true British hero.

Alan Turing committed suicide in Wilmslow, Cheshire on June 7th 1954. He was forty one years old.
Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing

13 comments:

  1. If the term "tragic hero" ever fitted anyone, Alan Turing is one of them.

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    1. I agree though Shakespeare never wrote a play called "Turing of Paddington".

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  2. We look at the Turing Test in the unit on Artificial Intelligence that I cover with my senior students. I will definitely look out for this film. Thank you YP.

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    1. "Are there imaginable digital computers which would do well in the imitation game?" After your mini-boffins have studied the Turing Test, I hope they receive the Carol Test!

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  3. I don't believe I've ever heard of Alan Turing...maybe I have somewhere through the course of the years...it sounds like a very interesting film.

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    1. I enjoyed it much more than "Mr Turner" even though my brain is more naturally artistic and I am usually repelled by things mathematical.

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  4. Benedict Cumberbatch is an acquired taste that grows finer with age.

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    1. I hope you are thinking of his acting talent Jan!

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  5. Cumberbatch is good at playing quirky people. I didn't like him at first, but now I consider him one of the most talented actors around at the moment.
    Will watch this when I can get hold of it. Thanks for the heads up YP

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  6. PS Have you read 'The Man WHo Mistook His Wife For a Hat'?

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    1. No I haven't Kate but having just lightly researched it it sounds like something I would like.
      Have you read "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Cleaning Lady"?

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    2. Yeah, yeah. Had to Google it, didn't I? Rotter.

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  7. Thank you. I wanted to see this film before I read this. I want to see it even more now.

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