London’s Science Museum today opens a major exhibition celebrating the life and work of Alan Turing to mark the great man’s centenary this month.
A new exhibition marks the centenary of Alan Turing, whose Second World War codebreaking work historians say helped reduce the duration of the conflict by years. ‘Codebreaker – Alan Turing’s Life and Legacy’ runs until June 2013, and examines the man and his multiple achievements, looking at how his influence on computer science extends to the present day.
The exhibition at the Science Museum in London presents the most extensive collection of Turing artefacts ever assembled, and includes both apparatus he devised and devices that influenced him and his co-researchers. They include the Pilot ACE computer (1950), German Enigma machines, and a 1930 Hollerith punched-card sorting machine.
Other key exhibits include a piece of fuselage from a crashed Comet jetliner, analysed with the aid of Pilot ACE in 1954 following a series of crashes to help determine the cause of the problem. Codebreaker also examines Turing’s work on artificial intelligence, plus his morphogenesis work.
“This exhibition presents the remarkable accomplishments of a man whose influence reaches directly into arguably the most widespread and increasingly popular pastime of the 21st century to date – personal computing,” says the exhibition’s curator David Rooney, “yet whose name is probably unfamiliar to the vast majority of people.”
The exhibition also aims to give a rounded portrait of Turing the individual, Rooney adds: “Far from being the cold, insular, solitary genius, Alan Turing can be seen as a convivial character with endearing qualities. He had undoubted eccentricities and a particular intensity of thought, but debated complicated theories with colleagues while running Olympic-standard races, and was regarded with affection by those around him throughout his career.”