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Did Alan Turing Really Commit Suicide?
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Did Alan Turing Really Commit Suicide?

On June 23rd Google displayed an interesting and puzzling doodle honouring Alan Turing's birthday 100 years ago. The doodle was an interactive animation of a Turing machine.

Alan Mathison Turing was one of the most influential mathematicians of the twentieth century. A true innovator of artificial intelligence, he formalized concepts such as algorithm and computation by designing the famous Turing machine, which consists of a hypothetical device used to simulate how a computer thinks.

Turing is also known as a code breaker during World War II. He designed, in collaboration with fellow mathematician Gordon Welchman, the Bombe, an electromechanical machine that could help break German Enigma messages.

Despite of his remarkable achievements, Turing suffered unfair treatment due to his open homosexuality. It actually occurred when an ex-lover and his accomplice tried to break into Turing's home. Turing reported the incident to the police leading to questioning and subsequent discovery of his homosexuality.

In 1952, England considered homosexuality as illegal. He was then given two options: Go to jail or chemical castration to supposedly suppress his sexual urges.

He chose the latter, not necessarily because he was afraid to go to jail but because he was concerned that he was not going to be able to continue his work in Manchester University where he had access to one of the only existing computers in the world.

Turing died in 1954 from cyanide poisoning. The police reported suicide as the cause of death, more specifically poisoning from eating an apple drenched in cyanide. The apple had been found next to his bed. However, the infamous apple was never tested for cyanide.

Professor of Philosophy Jack Copeland gave a conference this Saturday 23rd where he questioned the coroner's verdict and came up with a different and more convincing hypothesis on how Turing actually died.

Turing was an avid researcher, and as such, he had been doing experiments in a small room in his house he called the nightmare room. Here, he would electroplate spoons with gold using potassium cyanide.

It was during these experiments that Turing had been careless.

Thus, Prof. Copeland proposes that Turing's cause of death was cyanide poisoning from inhalation of cyanide fumes.

Other researchers argue that the experimental setups during his last days where just a facade to cover his suicidal intentions.

Jack Copeland said that all evidence should be taken seriously and that accidental death proves to be the more plausible cause of Turing's death.

In any case and regardless of how he died, Alan Turing contributions were crucial for the development of computer science, artificial intelligence, and code breaking. These are the reasons he will continue to be honoured and remembered the most.

Street Talk

I'm sorry to say that enough evidence is given for suicide. Having worked with KCN myself in electroforming and other experiments I know that the amount of KCN found in Alan's stomach was more than enough to bring on death within 10 min. of drinking, yes drinking, about a full cup of high concentrated solution in water, not by taking a couple of bites out of a red delicious apple which was his favorite and kept a bowl of them on a table in his living room downstairs next to a window. The apple was not tested because of poor investigative work by the police, it should have been taken as evidence, so we will never know if the apple was laced with KCN. What most do not know is that Alan kept great control of his emotions to the point that most considered him 'aloof', 'anti social', 'odd', 'Autistic' etc,etc... He therefore was terribly misunderstood. Alan had romanticized death by suicide most of his life and towards the end of his life a number of terrible things were happening to him at once, (his court conviction, hormone therapy, or I say, 'torture', not able to run from gaining weight,(a huge loss to him which was very important to him for a number of reasons which I will not go into now), a fortune teller telling him bad things, the police watching him everywhere he went causing isolation, psychotherapy he volunteered for but made things worse for him, and finally, if all this wasn't enough, the last thing which pushed him over the edge that happened a few days before his death, which I will not elaborate on now, because it'd take too long. Also Alan prepared his Last Will and Testament just a few months before he died, a big sign that he was preparing. Alan could be depressed and no one would know it because he would hide it by acting just the opposite so not to arouse suspicion or concern from anyone, not even his closer friend or his mother or brother knew. Alan never had true love, never had a true 'best friend to confide his most inner feelings to which he very desperately needed more than anything else. All of Alan's actions and apparent 'jolly good' mood, as was reported, for me are big 'red flags' to whom knows him intimately. These behaviors were not Alan's usual behavior. One who was almost always calm, controlled, low keyed, quiet, reserved, introspective, soft spoken, and not one for outbursts of human emotions, as Spok in Star Trek would say, expressed outside of himself. To see Alan simply smile was, for me, a huge outward expression of happiness from Alan, though sometimes he would burst out laughing unexpectedly on occasion. What we do all know is that he was a truly beautiful soul, a rare gift of mind that numbers one in every several hundred years and a wonderful human being that was not treated with the dignity and respect that was due him. Most Sincerely, Julia M. Turing

  about 2 years ago

Interesting, thanks for sharing this!

  about 3 years ago
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