Alan Turing (Top 10 Scientists who Suicide)

Alan Turing

Alan Turing

Alan Turing was an English scientist, mathematician, logician, and cryptographer, and arguably the greatest British scientist of the 20th century.

Often considered to be the father of modern computer science, Turing provided an influential formalisation of the concept of the algorithm and computation with the Turing machine. With the Turing test, he made a significant and characteristically provocative contribution to the debate regarding artificial intelligence: whether it will ever be possible to say that a machine is conscious and can think. He later worked at the National Physical Laboratory, creating one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, although it was never actually built. In 1948 he moved to the University of Manchester to work on the Manchester Mark I, then emerging as one of the world’s earliest true computers.

During the Second World War Turing worked at Bletchley Park, Britain’s code-breaking centre, and was for a time head of Hut 8, the section responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. He was largely responsible for the breaking of the German Enigma code.

In 1952, he was convicted of ‘Acts of Gross Indecency’, after admitting a sexual relationship with another man. He was given a choice between 18 months prison time (which considering his crime, was not exactly wise), or chemical castration, which included side effects such as breast enlargement. He chose the latter.

On the 8th June 1954, unable to endure the humiliation and pain of his punishment, Turing took his own life by eating an apple laced with cyanide. Despite this, it would take another 13 years for homosexuality to be decriminalised in the Britain.