Alan Turing  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Alan Mathison Turing, OBE (23 June 19127 June 1954) was an English mathematician, logician, and cryptographer.

The historical drama film The Imitation Game (2014) is about Alan Turing breaking the Enigma code.

Prosecution for homosexual acts and Turing's death

Turing was a homosexual in a period when homosexual acts were illegal in Britain and homosexuality was regarded as a mental illness. In 1952, Arnold Murray, a 19-year-old recent acquaintance of his helped an accomplice to break into Turing's house, and Turing went to the police to report the crime. As a result of the police investigation, Turing acknowledged a sexual relationship with Murray, and they were charged with gross indecency under Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. Turing was unrepentant and was convicted. He was given the choice between imprisonment and probation, conditional on him undergoing chemical castration. In order to avoid going to jail, he accepted the oestrogen hormone injections, which lasted for a year, with side effects including gynecomastia (breast enlargement). His conviction led to a removal of his security clearance and prevented him from continuing consultancy for GCHQ on cryptographic matters.

On 8 June 1954, his cleaner found his lifeless body; the previous day, he had died of cyanide poisoning, apparently from a cyanide-laced apple he left half-eaten beside his bed. The apple itself was never tested for contamination with cyanide, and cyanide poisoning as a cause of death was established by a post-mortem. Most believe that his death was intentional, and the death was ruled a suicide. His mother, however, strenuously argued that the ingestion was accidental due to his careless storage of laboratory chemicals. Biographer Andrew Hodges suggests that Turing may have killed himself in this ambiguous way quite deliberately, to give his mother some plausible deniability. Because Turing's homosexuality would have been perceived as a security risk, the possibility of assassination has also been suggested. His remains were cremated at Woking crematorium on 12 June 1954.

See also

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