Alan Turning: Clever Google Doodle Honoring The Genius Codebreaker’s 100th Birthday Makes You Think
If Alan Turing, the extraordinarily gifted British mathematician, logician, computer scientist and codebreaker had been living in this era, he wouldn't have to face the trauma that he had to go through during his time for his sexual orientation.
Turing, who was highly influential in articulating the mathematical foundation and limits of computing, was a gay man, and just a couple of years before his death, he had to face a criminal prosecution because of his homosexuality.
Alan Mathison Turing, the person who contributed immensely to the development of computer science by providing a formalization of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing Machine, which played a major role in the creation of the modern computer, died a tragic death in 1954 when he was 41.
On Saturday, Turing would have been 100. So Google has come up with yet another interactive Google Doodle honoring his memory. Saturday's Google Doodle is a virtual version of the Turing Machine, conceptualized by Turing in 1936, that helps explain how a CPU thinks in binary, i.e. 1s and 0s.
With a series of 1s and 0s and arrows pointing to left and right, the Google Doodle, as Mashable explains, is very hard for someone who is not a comp sci geek. The aim of the game is to spell out 'Google' in binary by matching numbers on the tape to the numbers in the upper right box.
The task involves six steps to be performed successfully and with each successful step, one letter of the Google logo gets filled with color. After completing it the first time, one can play it again at a more difficult level. (A video showing how to solve the Alan Turner Google Doodle is embedded below here.)
We first had the idea to celebrate Turing more than a year ago but decided to wait for his 100th to do something complex, said Sophia Foster-Dimino, an artist on the Doodle team. As one of the fathers of computer science, we thought he was a really fitting person to celebrate.
While his wartime code-breaking saved thousands of lives, his own life was destroyed when he was convicted for homosexuality, Google U.K. Engineering Director Andrew Eland wrote in a blog post. But the tragedy of his story should not overshadow his legacy. Turing's insight laid the foundations of the computer age. It's no exaggeration to say he's a founding father of every computer and Internet company today.
Born in 1912 in London, Turing graduated in mathematics from King's College, University of Cambridge in 1934. He worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS), Britain's codebreaking center during World War II. He was made an officer of the Order of the British Empire, because of his efforts in breaking German ciphers during the war.
After the war, Turing joined the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), where he developed one of the first designs for a stored-program computer. After quitting the NPL, he joined the Computing Machine Laboratory and designed the Ferranti Mark I, which is considered to be the first electronic digital computer to be commercially available.
During this time, Turing continued to do more abstract work in mathematics and in 1950, he proposed an experiment in artificial intelligence, which became known as the Turing Test, a measure to test whether a machine can think.
In an act of utter dishonor, for which former British prime minister Gordon Brown apologized on behalf of the British government Sept 10, 2009, Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality in 1952 when homosexual acts were still illegal in the UK. He was treated with female hormones (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison.
Two years later, he died after biting into an apple laced with cyanide. Although his death was declared to be suicide, many believe that his death was an accident.
This week, London's Science Museum is opening a year-long exhibition called Codebreaker: Alan Turing's Life and Legacy.