Turing stays home

Or at least, the archive of his papers will be doing so. It’s been announced that Alan Turing’s papers will now be able to be preserved at Bletchley Park, where the UK’s wartime (1940s) code-breaking efforts were centred and where Turing himself worked.

It’s probably only the technically minded who know Alan Turing’s name – including members of the BCS and the IET who perpetuate it through the annual Turing Lecture (this year’s event was recently held in London). But it should be more widely known; his contribution to the ending of the Nazi regime was enormous.

I’ve written this short note on a day when I’ve had a conversation with friend and artist Cyril Mount, some of whose paintings from the North Africa Campaign – and since – are about to be exhibited in a major event hosted by the Peace Studies Department at Bradford University. Cyril’s experiences were formative making him, if not specifically a peace campaigner, then certainly a peace advocate. Turing ended his own life a few years after the war, having been prosecuted for a homosexual relationship. Intolerance may have worn a more savage face in the Nazi regime, but it existed in this country too and, as Cyril’s paintings remind us, it’s still part of today’s world in many places.

• Enigma genius Alan Turing papers saved for the nation, BBC News, 25 Feb 2011
• An audience with … Donald Knuth, BCS/IET Turing Lecture (1 Feb), ITasITis, 2Feb 2011
• Ruffling Feathers, exhibition by Cyril Mount, Bradford, 4-25 March 2011

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