Enigma codebreaker Alan Turing receives royal pardon (from “The Guardian”)

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Alan Turing, convicted of gross indecency in 1952 after admitting a sexual relationship with a man, has been granted a posthumous royal pardon 59 years after his death.

The famous mathematician was the person who had broken the Enigma Code (giving a fundamental advantage to the Allies over the Axis Powers during World War II) and had set the basis for modern computers by imagining a machine (–> the Turing Machine) that could verify -on a case by case basis- if a mathematical relation (i.e. 1+1=3) is true or false. He had achieved such results also in H.M.’s service, while directing the Bletchley Park research group during the war.

Despite these achievements, and their importance, a court established under law could not but convict him for his homosexuality, that was a crime in UK until 1967. (read the article from The Guardian –> here)

I still find amazing (and shocking) how absurd can be the result of applying legal categories to strictly personal behaviors. In this case, we have a world class hero induced to suicide by the very legal system that he contributed to defend. Luckily for the whole Western world, Mr Turing was tried after the war and not before: otherwise, the war could have had a different end, computers could have been invented somewhere else and, maybe, the Nazi Weltanschauung could have prevailed.

 

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