DEAD:  Alan Turing

DEAD: ON THIS DATE

Alan Turing (aged 41)
Mathematician and computer scientist

Alan Mathison Turing (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Despite these accomplishments, he was never fully recognised in his home country during his lifetime, due to his homosexuality, which was then a crime in the UK.

DEATH: On 8 June 1954, Turing’s housekeeper found him dead; he had died the previous day. Cyanide poisoning was established as the cause of death.When his body was discovered, an apple lay half-eaten beside his bed, and although the apple was not tested for cyanide, it was speculated that this was the means by which Turing had consumed a fatal dose. An inquest determined that he had committed suicide. Andrew Hodges and another biographer, David Leavitt, have both speculated that Turing was re-enacting a scene from the Walt Disneyfilm Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), his favourite fairy tale. Both men noted that (in Leavitt’s words) he took “an especially keen pleasure in the scene where the Wicked Queen immerses her apple in the poisonous brew.” Turing’s remains were cremated at Woking Crematorium on 12 June 1954 and his ashes were scattered in the gardens of the crematorium, just as his father’s had been.

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