Alan Turing Memorial

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 53°28′36.2″N 2°14′9.7″W / 53.476722°N 2.236028°W / 53.476722; -2.236028

Flowers on the Alan Turing Memorial on his birthday in 2012

The Alan Turing Memorial, situated in the Sackville Park in Manchester, England,[1] is in memory of Alan Turing,[2] a father of modern computing. Turing committed suicide in 1954 two years after being convicted of gross indecency (i.e. homosexual acts). As such he is as much a gay icon as an icon of computing, and it is no coincidence that this memorial is situated near Canal Street, Manchester's gay village.[3]

He is sitting on a bench situated in a central position in the park. On Turing's left is the University of Manchester and on his right is Canal Street.

The statue was unveiled on June 23, Turing's birthday, in 2001. It was conceived by Richard Humphry, a barrister from Stockport, who set up the Alan Turing Memorial Fund in order to raise the necessary funds. Humphry had come up with the idea of a statue after seeing Hugh Whitemore's play Breaking the Code, starring Sir Derek Jacobi. Jacobi became the patron of the Fund. Glyn Hughes, an industrial sculptor from Adlington near Westhoughton, was commissioned to sculpt the statue.[4] Roy Jackson (who had previously raised funds for HIV/AIDS and Gay Awareness in Manchester) was asked to assist in the funding raising to make the memorial happen. Within 12 months, through donations and a 'village lottery', the money was raised. This allowed the statue to be cast in China. Glyn Hughes had found contacts that could manufacture and ship an identical bronze statue to that which would have cost c£50,000 in the UK. The cost of the memorial was achieved with the £16,000 raised.

Turing memorial statue plaque.

Turing is shown holding an apple, a symbol classically used to represent forbidden love, as well as being both the fruit of the tree of knowledge (the object that fell on Isaac Newton in legend) and the means of Turing's own death (Turing died of cyanide poisoning and a half-eaten apple was found close to his body; it was assumed that the apple was laced with cyanide). The cast bronze bench carries in relief the text 'Alan Mathison Turing 1912-1954' and the motto 'Founder of Computer Science' as it would appear if encoded by an Enigma machine; 'IEKYF RQMSI ADXUO KVKZC GUBJ'. However this appears to be an "artists impression" of an ENIGMA encryption, rather than an actual one. ENIGMA could not encode a letter as itself and there is a letter "U" at position 14 of both the plain-text and the cipher.

A plaque at the statue's feet says "Father of computer science, mathematician, logician, wartime codebreaker, victim of prejudice". There is also a Bertrand Russell quotation saying "Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture."

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]