Preface: this post is written due to both interest, as well as the fact it was required of me by my physics teacher, who is quite epic, tbh.
Edit: I got an X (for like, totally awesome (OUTSTANDING))
Science has, like all the other fields in life, had its controversies or great losses, which led to a loss of potential understanding or knowledge, at least, in the short-term (I believe that sometime or the other someone will work it out again). But one that I hold as being quite interesting, and an awful shame, is that which I am now telling you about (enigmatic, I know).
nerd cap normal hat*
IT IS A TIME OF
CIVILWAR. MASSIVE ROGUE WORDS ROAM THE GALAXYTHE TELEGRAPH POLES. THEIR TASK? TO MAKE CULTURAL REFERENCES NO ONE CAN UNDERSTAND, AND TELL THINGS WHERE TO GO TO MAKE OTHER THINGS GO BOOM.
Ok, no more Star Wars references. I am referring to WW2, and specifically in that vast subject, the ENIGMA code (do you see what I did there?). In a small estate, a young man, twiddled his fingers and thought “How should I save Britain and her allies from death and destruction.”. I don’t know about you, but not many people think this. (I think about causing it. Mwhaha.) This young man would later say he found this difficult, as “no one else was doing anything about it” – indeed, still a problem today, in some cases. This young man was the creator of the bombe, successor to the bomba. The bombe was used to find the settings for the ENIGMA machine, searching through settings, of which there was either 10^19 or 10^22 possible variations. However, as most of the time would have a contradiction in the logic of the bombe, the amount of output to be searched, in order to determine the “Enigma of the day”, was minimised. By the end of the war, 200 bombes were in full operation. The man, for those of you who haven’t caught on yet, was the father, in mine and others’ opinion, of computer science and artificial intelligence. Indeed, he would be with Tesla, Einstein and Edison - the scientists I would like to resurrect. He is Alan Turing, a cryptanalyst, logician and mathematician.
Having succeeded in WW2, Alan moved on to making the “Automatic Computing Engine”, and the National Physics Laboratory. He helped work on the very earliest stored-program computers – capable of “remembering” things, not always needing some ticker tape to reprogram it. By the 1950s, he invented the Turing test. This was for artificial intelligence – it was a test for intelligence – could a computer be determined to be intelligent if a human cannot tell it apart from a human. This lives on today – CAPTCHA is simply a reversed form of the Turing test – it wants to see if you’re a computer or a human. He even wrote a program with artificial intelligence – a chess program. Due to a complete lack in computing power, this took half an hour per move.
Onto the controversy. It is not scientific as such, but as these things so often are, it is personal. Alan was homosexual – and in those times, this was illegal. He was in a relationship with Arnold Murray, and it ended up that they were charged with gross indecency, from an act that was 70 years old. Turing was given a choice – to go to prison, or take hormones – chemical castration via oestrogen. He took the oestrogen option. The fact he now had a criminal record meant he could no longer work for GCHQ – the Cold War was brewing, and the Cambridge Five had recently started to be unveiled.
On the 8th June 1954, Turing was found dead by his cleaner, having died the previous day. It was ruled to be cyanide poisoning, and suicide. It is the belief that this was due to his persecution for his sex. I believe that he could have had a massive influence on the world, and science if he had not died at the age of 40 – it is clear to see he had so much more to give to the world, yet he still lives on. Changes in science could be that we would be at an entirely new level of computing, or he may have done something completely interesting that would have aided research – the possibilities are endless. I believe he, however, could have contributed more, if not for his suicide.
Wants the Turing Award,
I am, as most of you will or ought to know, that is, if you haven’t worked it out, currently in the GCSE years. For any foreign readers I may have, GCSE stands for “General Certificate of Secondary Education”, and I am doing several exams in order to get several certificates – hence I am doing my GCSEs. Whilst in my geography class today, and discussing the test and how it was similar to the exam, we were divulged the fact that the very simple “multiple-choice-esque” questions were, like the rest of the paper, scanned in. But, these easy questions were sent to “data-centers” (read between the lines). These “data-centers” are, however, not in the UK. Not Europe. They are in the Philippines. Thus, the people marking these simple questions are likely to have a limited knowledge of the subject and/or not really be paying attention, and simply ticking or crossing.
Now, having done some googling I haven’t found anything about these, so it may simply be my geography teacher winding us up, but nevertheless it brings up the important idea of examinations and how they are marked. My googling did bring up a few amusing but rather disconcerting tales, such as this one, where papers were marked by an examiner during a cricket match, half-heartedly paying attention, which is to say the least, rather hypocritical.
Anyhow, I already have my qualms with the education system, but this is really C work.
Hoping to get A*’s,