Published: 07th June 2021
#ThrowbackToday: What prompted math genius Alan Turing to take his own life 67 years ago today?
In today's #TBT, we remember the mathematician who invented the first version of the computer and stopped a war and yet his last days were not as glorious as they should have actually been
Enigma was an enigma in every sense of the term. Back in the 1939s, when Britain was at war with Germany, Enigma was the latter's principal cipher machine, something their military used to encrypt radio communications. Though the Polish had taken a stab at coming up with a code-breaking machine when Germany caught wind, they upped the level of Enigma. Now, it was upon Alan Turing, who has already built quite a reputation with his paper On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, which paved the way to the very foundation of Computer Science.
Turing was a mathematician, computer scientist and cryptanalyst, among many other things, and if someone could accomplish this task, it was this London-born genius. And he did! He came up with the first systematic method for breaking encrypted messages of the Enigma and called it Tunny. This is said to have shortened the war by two whole years! It was only natural that Turning was made the Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his work.
But alas, when Turing was ousted as a homosexual, which he was unapologetic about, it seemed like people had forgotten everything he had done. Back in the day, the punishment for homosexuality was chemical castration, hormone injections that invited a host of distressing symptoms. He remained lively and dedicated to his work through it all, but was no doubt suffering as well.
READ ALSO: #ThrowbackToday: Writer Arundhati Roy's second book comes out two decades after she won the Booker Prize
On June 7, 1954, Turing consumed an apple laced with cyanide and died by suicide.
Following an internet campaign, in 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned him posthumously and the government apologised for treating Turning in the way that they did.
In the depths
Mother Earth continues to hold many secrets close to her that mankind is yet to unravel. But Dr Kathy Sullivan successfully discovered a few embedded in the deepest trenches of our oceans and became the first woman to do so on June 8 last year. She was already the first woman to walk in space. This 69-year-old American geologist is really something, isn't she?
Basically, Dr Sullivan travelled 11 odd kilometers below the Pacific Ocean to a spot called Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.