Friday, January 16, 2015

Imagine being a brilliant man that invents something that is an essential machine that can crack secret codes during World War II. The invention proves to work so well that it is said that without the aid of the secret code breaking machine, the war could have went on for another two years. It is no imagined story. It is true and the world should know the man better and he never should have been poisoned and lived only to be about 40 simply because he was an openly gay man. All I know is that none of this discrimination simply because he was gay would be going on now. Or would it? Currently Russia and the Middle Eastern countries would arrest openly gay men on their streets.

At least persecution because of sexual orientation is not an issue in the United States anymore. What bothers me most about this story is that the gay inventor saved so many soldiers’ lives but yet was treated so badly in his life. The German’s top secret code during World War II was called,   ”Enigma”. In 1939 Hitler was invading Poland and was on his way to go further into all of Europe. The British were trying to crack the coding of the secret messaging language that the Germans used in order to communicate. His name is Alan Turing and everyone should be familiar with him and we are not. He is the young mathematician who was gay who was poisoned who invented the code cracking machine.

The art of cracking codes is known as cryptography. There is a new film out called “The Imitation Game” starring Benedict Cumberbatch as the young mathematician. He single handedly changed the course of World War II yet few remember his name. How sad. He was only 27 years old when he was recruited by the British to figure out the code. At age 24 he had already become a Fellow at Cambridge. At age 23 he was writing articles of a technical nature in publications. He did not consider himself a prodigy as he compared himself to Newton who by age 22 was inventing things, Einstein was writing papers that changed the world by age 26.  The German code machine is still on display at London’s War Museum\

Mathematicians like to solve problems and Alan knew that he would have to invent a machine to be able to take on the German coding machine. At the time the Americans, French and Germans thought the machine was unbreakable. It was a top secret operation and was kept a secret 30 years even after the war was over. The code breaking was being researched in an estate in London. There was a new code set every day so Alan had only 24 hours to try to decipher it so he created a machine. It took 9 months for Alan and his team to create a machine. Cracking the codes allowed British Intelligence to contact war ships and troops as to locations of the German Army. The Allies suddenly had a heads up in the war effort. Alan Turning’s work shortened the War by two years saving millions of lives.

It was stunning work considering it was done in the 1940’s. According to current Professors of Math, Turing revolutionized cryptography, the theories of computer science and artificial intelligence. For part of the War, his family didn’t even know where he was and his story was not revealed until the 1970’s. In 1952 he was arrested and charged with “Gross Indecency” for having sexual relations with another man. He never denied it as so many men hid their true sexuality in those days and was sentenced to probation and was required   to go through   estrogen treatments which was then to be believed to suppress homosexual desires. In 1954 Turing died after eating an apple dipped in cyanide.  He was 41 years old. It took 60 more years for his story to be accepted. Only last year he was pardoned by Queen Elizabeth. Today he is celebrated like a war hero that he deserves straight or gay.

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