Tag Archives | Computer Science

Alan Turing, Computer Science Genius Castrated for Homosexuality, Receives Pardon From Queen

Turing PlaqueIf not for Alan Turing we might all be speaking German right now. Or not, but regardless Alan Turing was one of Britain’s finest minds and did more than almost anyone to defeat the Germans in World War II. His reward: castration for homosexual activity. Posthumously (perhaps unsurprisingly he committed suicide) he has finally been pardoned by Queen Elizabeth II reports CNN:

Alan Turing, a British code-breaker during World War II who was later subjected to chemical castration for homosexual activity, has received a royal pardon nearly 60 years after he committed suicide.

Turing was best known for developing the Bombe, a code-breaking machine that deciphered messages encoded by German machines. His work is considered by many to have helped change the course of the war and save thousands of lives.

“Dr. Turing deserves to be remembered and recognized for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science,” British Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement Tuesday.

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Do We Live in the Matrix?

The.Matrix.glmatrix.2Zeeya Merali says that “tests could reveal whether we are part of a giant computer simulation — but the real question is if we want to know,” writing for Discover:

In the 1999 sci-fi film classic The Matrix, the protagonist, Neo, is stunned to see people defying the laws of physics, running up walls and vanishing suddenly. These superhuman violations of the rules of the universe are possible because, unbeknownst to him, Neo’s consciousness is embedded in the Matrix, a virtual-reality simulation created by sentient machines.

The action really begins when Neo is given a fateful choice: Take the blue pill and return to his oblivious, virtual existence, or take the red pill to learn the truth about the Matrix and find out “how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

Physicists can now offer us the same choice, the ability to test whether we live in our own virtual Matrix, by studying radiation from space.

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Vint Cerf On Alan Turing

Photo: Joseph Birr-Pixton (CC)Vint Cerf was one of the main forces behind the creation of the Internet as we know it today. He is accorded elder statesman status, but is in fact still very active in the tech world (currently Google’s “Chief Internet Evangelist”). On the centenary of the birth of an earlier tech revolutionary, Alan Turing, Cerf writes for the BBC that  the mathematician who broke the Nazis’ Enigma code in World War 2 should be a household name:

I’ve worked in computing, and more specifically computer networking, nearly all my life. It’s an industry in a constant state of innovation, always pushing beyond the limits of current capability.

It is sometimes said that “broadband” is whatever network speed you don’t have, yet!

Things we take for granted today were, not that long ago, huge technological breakthroughs.

Although I’ve been lucky enough in my career to be involved in the development of the internet, I’ve never lost sight of the role played by my predecessors, without whose pioneering labour, so much would not have been accomplished.

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Alan Turing Code Papers Released

Turing PlaqueAlan Turing, perhaps the greatest computer scientist ever, famous for breaking the Germans' Enigma code in World War II, wrote two papers on code breaking that have just been released by Britain's spy center, GCHQ. From BBC News:
Two 70-year-old papers by Alan Turing on the theory of code breaking have been released by the government's communications headquarters, GCHQ. It is believed Turing wrote the papers while at Bletchley Park working on breaking German Enigma codes. A GCHQ mathematician said the fact that the contents had been restricted "shows what a tremendous importance it has in the foundations of our subject". It comes amid celebrations to mark the centenary of Turing's birth. The two papers are now available to view at the National Archives at Kew, west London. GCHQ was able to approximately date the papers because in one example Turing had made reference to Hitler's age.
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Why The Age Of Quantum Computing Is Nearer Than You Think

DPAG1998-Max-Planck-GesellschaftTrevor Quirk reports in the Christian Science Monitor that new research at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics shows quantum computing beginning to flirt with practical technology:

Tech-buffs, investors, IT industrialists, and boffins alike eagerly await the day when the science of quantum computing yields practical technology. Physicists of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ), recently published research that, they believe, has brought that pivotal day closer.

For many years, physicists have sought to create an information network far superior to today’s by exploiting quantum phenomena. The team of German researchers have constructed the first vital component of such a network: a link between two atomic nodes over which information can be received, sent, and stored using a single photon. Successful exchanges of information recently took place in Garching, Germany, between two MPQ labs connected by a 60-meter fiber-optic cable. Though only a prototype, this rudimentary network could be scaled up to more complex and distanced quantum networks.

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