Issue 11: 11 November 2014
Turing's questions graphic

The Turing Test: brain-inspired computing's multiple-path approach

How closely do we need electronics to impersonate the brain before they can pass the Turing Test?

Bunny Fuchs’s Sno-cat is trapped nose-first in the far wall of a deep crevasse

Before manned space flight became a reality in the 1960s, the greatest challenge in exploration was to traverse the continent of Antarctica. A team spearheaded by British explorer Sir Vivian 'Bunny' Fuchs led a mission that was to put the internal combustion engine to its sternest test yet.

‘Mars yard’, Stevenage, UK, Earth

Only one country has so far managed to land objects on Mars successfully - the USA. Not wanting to get left behind, Europe is building its own rover - the ExoMars. Its three prototypes are currently roaming a mock section of Mars built at Airbus's facilities in Stevenage, UK.

Alan Turing

The Turing biopic, The Imitation Game, is based on the classic biography 'Alan Turing: the Enigma'. We talk to its author Andrew Hodges, fellow and tutor in mathematics at Wadham College, University of Oxford. 

The Turing Enigma
E&T cover image 1411

In this issue we explore the enigmatic Alan Turing and his legacy. Nick Smith interviews Andrew Hodges, author of the biography on which the film The Imitation Game was based. Edd Gent looks at progress in artificial intelligence and how closely electronics will need to impersonate the human brain before it can pass the famous Turing Test. Christine Evans-Pughe examines Turing’s late work in morphogenesis and how it’s helping scientists to develop ways to make complex materials build themselves. Was Turing dyslexic or autistic? We shall probably never know, but Crispin Andrews asks the experts, which looks at these conditions’ relationship to engineering.

Elsewhere in this issue, we take a gander at Europe's ExoMars rover on test in an Earth-bound simulation of the Red Planet, actually located a mere stone's throw away from the IET building in Stevenage. From a blazing hell on a distant planet to a frozen hell much closer to home, we hear about the difficulties encountered on one group's mission to traverse Antarctica. There's also a look at how the much-touted Internet of Things will revolutionise manufacturing and make devices smarter. Plus a whole lot of other stuff that'll knock your science socks off. 

The E&T podcast: smells like gene spirit

Edd Gent talks to Dr Michael Schmuker, whose research straddles chemistry, informatics and neuroscience, about using the neuromorphic physical model to implement a model of the neural network in the olfactory system, which is responsible for our sense of smell.

Download the neuromorphic podcast now

Also in this issue
Credit cards require a makeover to secure payments

Analysis: Why we need to revamp the credit card system  ET arr

The recent revelation that a website was openly selling credit card records to all comers is hardly surprising. 'Carders', as they're known in security circles, have been selling stolen records online for years, but normally via less popular channels, like IRC.

Rob Gear, IT expert and futurist, PA Consulting Group

Analysis: finding symbiosis for human-computer collaboration  ET arr

Have we become sufficiently accustomed to the notion of 'having a relationship' with our computers to the point where we are now prepared to treat them as bona fide co-workers?

Industrial baking oven

Internet of things: connecting the unconnected  ET arr

If ever the importance of industrial automation was in doubt, the Internet of Things - otherwise known as IoT, IPv6 or Industry 4.0 - is probably the clincher. From baking to lighting, we look at the benefits of letting devices communicate.

Red and green zebra pattern

Turing's morphogenesis theory drives research into self-configuring systems  ET arr

Alan Turing's ideas on morphogenesis are helping scientists to develop ways to make complex materials build themselves.

Server graphic with 'stack them high' written across a monitor

Software-defined networking: data centres' soft option  ET arr

Software-defined networking promises cheaper, more flexible communications but is that winning over converts in the data centre?

John Cleese at a desk in a forest clearing

Enterprises embrace the world of mobility  ET arr

Businesses need to stay ahead of the game and go further than staff if they wish to keep their finger on the pulse and remain secure when it comes to IT on the move.

Aeros’s Dragon Dream airship

Where next for the modern airship?  ET arr

Airships came to prominence in the First World War when they were used for bombing raids. Today the airship concept is undergoing a revival. But what is the technology like, and what will they be used for?

Alf Alderson skiing through deep snow, French Alps

What's new in modern avalanche safety devices?  ET arr

This month's new regular feature on sports technology looks at the gadgets fighting the 'white death', which, as the recent tragedy of the trekkers in Nepal shows, remains a grave danger for mountaineers.

Left to right from top: Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, Steve Jobs, Alexander Bell, Pierre Curie

Was Alan Turing dyslexic?  ET arr

Some commentators think Alan Turing was dyslexic, some say autistic. In any case his life and his genius remain sources of inspiration for engineers and all those who defy discrimination and prejudice.

Three Apple devices: iPhone, iPad and Macbook

Jon Kolko: 'Well Designed'  ET arr

There's more to designing best-selling products than simply loading them with features, says Jon Kolko, whose new book explains how the most important ingredient in design is human engagement.

Medical laboratory

Medical robotics: the end of the lab technician?  ET arr

In biology labs around the world, the graduate student or 'lab rat' has long been a synonym for drudge. But the machines have started taking over. Biologists are now using technology for its mechanical doggedness.

Daniel Craig's Honda CRF250R motorbike, Skyfall

PhotoEssay  ET arr

You've seen them on screen, now there's a chance to get a closer look at some iconic vehicles from the James Bond films.


Debate: Is UX design a waste of time?


Keith Goffin

Keith Goffin is Professor of Innovation and New Product Development at Cranfield School of Management. His books include ‘Identifying Hidden Needs: Creating Breakthrough Products’.



David Wood

David Wood is chair at London Futurists and former CTO at Accenture Mobility. He has featured in T3’s list of ‘100 most influential people in technology’.

UX (user experience) design for mobile phones should be secondary to getting the basic functions right

Please log in to contribute to this debate.

Agree 67%
Disagree 33%
The big picture
Mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing created from the dismembered parts of a computer keyboard, part of the ‘Natural Selection’ series of portraits of great scientists created by American artist Noah Scalin. See the whole collection and films showing how they were made at
Big Numbers
BioLite KettleCharge

Stick this 750ml kettle on any stove and you’ll not only get hot water but 10W of power for mobile devices too

Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2

Revamped driver technology using suspended diaphragms means the new P5 foldable headphones sound better than ever

Dainese Manis back protector

Manis back protectors have over­lapping scales and flexible joints, letting them bend, flex and twist

GoPro Hero4 Black

The market-leading actioncam finally gets 4K @30fps, along with Bluetooth and 12MP bursts @30fps

Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1

Camera and Android smart­phone with 20MP 1in sensor - focus, aperture, ISO, white balance, are all controllable

nVidia Shield Tablet

A high-end Android tablet that not only plays Android games but also lets users stream their PC games wirelessly


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