Alan Turing Named The Greatest Person Of The 20th Century

Alan Turing Named The Greatest Person Of The 20th Century

Alan Turing, the father of computer science who was also gay, was named the most ‘iconic’ figure of the 20th Century on Tuesday (5 February).

Public voting during a live broadcast of BBC Two’s Icons: The Greatest Person Of The 20th Century chose the scientist.

Turing was instrumental in cracking Nazi codes during World War 2. But he was later chemically castrated for being gay and is believed to have committed suicide.

“He was a man who worked almost entirely in secret, who received little credit for cracking the Nazi codes and shortening the war and who died having been branded a criminal,” said presenter Nick Robinson. “Today, he is the most celebrated figure of the 20th century, a father of computing, war hero and genius.”

He beat figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Ernest Shackleton, Pablo Picasso, David Bowie, and Muhammad Ali.

In 2013, Queen Elizabeth II pardoned Turing for his 1952 conviction for having sex with another man.

In World War 2, Turing broke Adolf Hitler’s Enigma codes thus shortening it by up to two years. He likely saved hundreds of thousands of lives. After the war, in 1952, authorities prosecuted Turing for being gay. They forced him to undergo reparative therapy to try to cure his sexuality. He accepted chemical castration as an alternative to prison. He is believed to have committed suicide two years later; after it was found he died from cyanide poisoning.

On the night BBC named Turing an icon, broadcaster Chris Packham gave an inspiring and heartwarming speech commemorating his life.

“For me, science is the art of understanding truth and beauty,” Packham said. “But for Turing, mathematics alone encapsulated the search for that most honorable human grail: pure truth. Truthfully, he knew more than most. He defined the computer, he designed a computer. Faced with global catastrophe, he built a computer.”

Packham believes Turing saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but all he got in return from society was a “poisoned apple”.

“A genius [and] a saviour,” Packham then said. “But he was also autistic and gay so we betrayed him and drove him to suicide. Shame.”

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3 Comments

  1. Patrick
    February 09, 00:53 Reply

    I have said that the ‘G’ in GAY means Genius.
    Now if we would just give more attention to this genius…

  2. Fineman
    February 10, 01:52 Reply

    Reading this just made me sad. And to think some glorified cows will open the gutter they call mouth and say being gay is a choice.
    These days I just blame god seff. Why can’t s/he change everyone’s heart while they sleep and let them know this is not a fucking choice?
    I feel like packing homophobes into a stadium already decorated with bomb and just bursting their straight heads.
    This life is hard enough to be born in a place like Nigerian (left to me I would have chosen London, no USA, but Trump can wake up one morning after a mosquito bite and decide to chase every black person to their villages – yes I would come back black in the next life) being gay again is double wahala.
    It’s tiring and sickening.

    PS my eyes is turnioniwn

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