“Yours in distress”: a letter from Alan Turing

I am just wrapping up the book “Alan Turing – The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges. Great insight into the life and intellect of this formidable mathematician and father of computers and AI. I found this post relevant and interesting…. Can’t wait to see “The Imitation Game” with Benedict Cumberbatch as Turing…

Why Evolution Is True

From Letters of Note we get a poignant letter from Alan Turing (1912-1954) written to the mathematician Normal Routledge in 1952, shortly before Turing pleaded guilty to “gross indecency” for having sexual relations with men. (It’s hard to imagine that being a crime, but of course it was the situation for many years in England; it was, in fact, the crime for which Oscar Wilde was convicted.)

Turing was given a choice between prison and “chemical castration” (injection with stilbesterol, which renders one impotent, among other things). Turing chose the latter. As most of us know, Turing appeared to have committed suicide in 1954 by eating a cyanide-laced apple, though some biographers claim it might have an accident (Turing was doing experiments involving cyanide).

At any rate, here’s the letter:

My dear Norman,

I don’t think I really do know much about jobs, except the one I had during the war, and that certainly…

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