11886189-597F-44FC-85CE-22EABE21F267 Created with sketchtool. Re: Boring Letters from Alan Turing

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  Last updated September 27, 2017 at 7:56 am

148 letters from Alan Turing have been discovered in a filing cabinet at the University of Manchester.  

Most of the emails I write are super boring. And I bet most of yours are too. Even the most salacious email leak is overwhelming made up of pretty mundane correspondence. And even English genius like Alan Turing is no exception – apart from the fact that he was relying on good old-fashioned snail mail, not the electronic variety. But that’s what’s so cool about this discovery! It’s a direct link to history, something that we have in common with each other and with our idols who got us here.

If you don’t know much about Alan Turing, I definitely recommend looking into his life story. He’s known as the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. He helped stop World War Two, he’s a hero to the gay community, and he lends his name to the Turing Test (a benchmark in artificial intelligence communication which has never been surpassed).

His recently discovered letters are basically him organising his work life: can we send this computer here, can we allow room in the budget for a software engineer there, do you want to speak at this conference.

However, one highlight does emerge – Turing is invited to present at a cybernetics conference in the USA but he says ‘I would not like the journey, and I detest America’. This was 1953 so Dwight Eisenhower was President, That’s Amore by Dean Martin was on top of the music charts, and the first colour television sets were going on sale. It’s tempting to give extra meaning to Turing’s negative opinions of the States, but we’ll never know. Maybe he just didn’t like slightly silly pop songs.

Professor Jim Miles from the University of Manchester was adorably excited to find the secret stash – have a look at his reaction below.

If you are curious about the boring content of these boring letters, you can take a look at this list. If you want to see the letters themselves, you’re going to have to book a flight to Manchester where they’re kept in the University Library.

Letters image courtesy of The University of Manchester

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About the Author

Casey Harrigan
Casey Harrigan (@caseyharri) is a Contributing Editor for The Body and Culture on Australia’s Science Channel. Her academic background is in science communication, and her professional background is in science and factual television. Don’t get her started talking about sci fi movies, comedy, interesting animal facts, or Beyonce because she will never stop.


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