Sunday 15 April 2018

Sunday Snap – The Code Breaker

We were in Glasgow for last week's Sunday Snap of the famous statue with the cone head. I asked who the statue depicted and the answer is

The Duke of Wellington

Climbing up the plinth with the right answer were Susan and Anne.

This week's tale is of a brilliant mathematician who became a war hero and yet his life ended tragically early. As a child it was soon noted that he had extraordinary potential. He was awarded a first class honours in mathematics after studying at King's College, Cambridge. Just a year later at the age of 22 he was elected a fellow of the college. From then on he worked on his concept now considered as the basis for the theory of computation. He then went onto Princeton in the US to further his ideas and study cryptology – something which was to make a difference to the entire world a few years later.

Once back in England he went to work for the Government Code and Cypher School Headquarters at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. He created the 'Bombe' which was able to decipher the messages being sent from the German Enigma Machine to the German forces. The effectiveness of the machine meant the British were able to keep one step ahead of the Germans. It is thought that it enabled the war to end two years earlier and save around 14 million lives.

After the war he went to the National Physical Laboratory and started work on the first modern digital computer. However he left after being frustrated with the length of time it was taking to start the project. From there he moved to the University of Manchester and began work on artificial intelligence. In 1952 his house in Wilmslow, just south of Manchester, was broken in to. While a policeman was investigating the burglary he confessed to being in a homosexual relationship – at the time this was illegal and he was charged and convicted of gross indecency. He was able to choose between imprisonment or receive hormonal treatment and he opted for the later. As he was now classed as a criminal he was unable to continue with work he had been doing for GCHQ and had his security clearance removed. He was also now barred from entering the USA.

The apple in the hand of the statue points to the cause of death. In June 1954 his housekeeper found him dead at his home. He was just 42. Next to him was a half eaten apple. It was not unusual for him to have a have an apple before he went to sleep and leave half of it. The cause of his death was determined as suicide through cyanide poisoning but the apple was never tested for traces of cyanide. Some say that he accidentally inhaled the fumes from experiments he had set up in his room. His mother believed that he didn't wash his hands after doing the experiments and the cyanide ended up on the apple he ate. In 2009 a campaign was started to get him an apology for his conviction for homosexuality. The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, issued an apology for the manner in which he was treated at the time but said he could not be pardoned as he was convicted as per the laws of the day. However further campaigning resulted in him receiving a pardon from the Queen in 2013. This week's question is

Who is the code breaker?

We were joined last week by Susan and trip to Brig O'Doon. Kara was down at the beach and had a meeting with Thomas the Tank Engine. We had an introduction to Nancy Bear as made by Anne.

If you want to join in with this week's Sunday Snap then add your link to the linky below. Any theme is allowed. It doesn't have to be published today as you have until 23.55 on Friday 20th April 2018 to join in. Grab my badge below for your blog post. Just make sure it is your photo and you hold the copyright for it.

Sunday Snap

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  1. Alan Turing (which I had to doublecheck but I remembered reading about a recent law that took his name to pardon people historically convicted of being homosexual). Such a sad story, how someone who did such great things could be thrown away like rubbish for something so silly.

  2. I am not sure, sorry. Thanks for hosting. Hugs xx

  3. I have no idea sorry. Thanks for hosting and hope you have a good week x

  4. It's Alan Turing, I was at Bletchley Park a couple of months ago. I didn't get to see the Bombe though as that part of the museum was closed.

  5. It's Alan Turing, in Sackville Park.

  6. Alan Turing, of course! Such a sad ending of a brilliant mind.



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