Turing Shrouded

Statue of Alan Turing in Sackville GardensIf you have Google set as your home page, you’ll be aware that today marks the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, mathematician, code breaker, father of the modern computer and all-round tortured soul.

For that reason I figured it was  appropriate to finally get round to taking a photo of the statue in his memory to found in Sackville Gardens in Manchester, so off I popped this morning.

If I’m honest, it’s not the best work I’ve ever seen, but it does commemorate Turing’s links to the city much better than Alan Turing Way, the dual-carriageway that gets you into and out of the wastelands of east Manchester as quickly as possible.

It was unveiled on this day in 2001 and sits symbolically between the university and the Gay Village of Canal Street, marking his iconic status in both the scientific and gay communities.

Alan Turing Statue in Sackville GardensThe apple he holds in his right hand has layered significance. It represents Newton, the Tree of Knowledge and forbidden love, but most of all it is reminder of Turing’s death after eating an apple laced with cyanide at his home in Wilmslow.

He had been convicted for indecency at a time when homosexuality was illegal in the UK and had been forced to accept chemical castration to avoid imprisonment.

Why he chose to commit suicide in the way he did is supposedly explained by his obsession with the fairy tale of Snow White, while others suggest it was an accident, or at least deliberately ambiguous to give his mother some plausible deniability.

And today, Prof Jack Copeland will argue that the verdict of suicide should never have been reached.

Not that this will change the sad outcome, but at least he isn’t forgotten. When I went to take my photo, I had to wait while three Chinese visitors took theirs and if you look at my second photo, you can see the marks on the bench and Turing’s left knee made shinier by the thousands of others who have posed with their hero.

But back to Google, if you are wondering how to crack their commemorative interactive doodle, here’s the answer:

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Roger Green 23rd June 2012

    Yes, I didn’t know the narrative of Turing, but all the 0s and 1s on Google got me nostalgic for 5th grade, when we learned base 2.

  • Chris H 23rd June 2012

    1 + 1 = 10, 10 + 10 = 100, 100 + 100 = 1000
    1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 2 = 11, 11 + 11 = 22
    1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 2 = 10, 10 + 10 = 20
    1 + 1 = 2, 2 + 2 = 4, 4 + 4 = 13

  • Mr Parrot 23rd June 2012

    Thanks Chris… I think…

  • Tiring Pudding 23rd June 2012

    “We can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.” – Alan Turing (The gentleman’s not for turNing – see first para.)

  • Mr Parrot 23rd June 2012


  • rhymeswithplague 23rd June 2012

    I know decimal and I know binary and I know octal and I know hexadecimal, but this post is apparently too deep for me….

  • Chris H 25th June 2012

    🙂 I thought you’d like it. It’s a riddle and a pattern like the Google riddle-pattern, and much more simple.

  • Roger Green 9th September 2012



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