His English teacher wrote:. He was nearly stopped from taking the national School Certificate exams on the subject, for fear he would fail. It was based on plans for a larger computer the ACE designed by the mathematician Alan Turing between and In , he developed the idea for the Universal Turing Machine, the basis for the first computer. And he developed a test for artificial intelligence in , which is still used today.
But he also studied physics, especially as a young man. He dabbled in quantum mechanics, a new field at the time, as well as biology, chemistry and neurology after the war. Even as a child, Turing saw life through the eyes of a scientist, Hodges said. It was a mathematical explanation of how things grow — a great mystery to science, Hodges explained. His work on the subject has been cited more than 8, times. Sculpture of Alan Turing in slate at Bletchley Park.
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Photo from Wikimedia Commons, taken by Jon Callas. It is true that he had a bit of a stammer, something dramatic portrayals of Turing have exaggerated, Hodges said. In his biography he notes that a BBC radio producer had called Turing a very difficult person to interview for that reason.
Cat Sense: The Feline Enigma Revealed by John Bradshaw – review | Books | The Guardian
The laws at the time prevented Turing from being openly gay, but he never kept his sexuality secret either. Many people would have clung to that oasis, he said, but Turing branched out to continue his work. Defiant, he did not deny the charges. The punishment for homosexuality was chemical castration, a series of hormone injections that left Turing impotent.
It also caused gynecomastia , giving him breasts. But Turing refused to let the treatment sway him from his work, keeping up his lively spirit.
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Not only did the Catholic church try to exterminate all cats from the European continent during the middle ages, but Parisians used to set fire to cats as a prelude to dancing, and the citizens of Ypres held an annual festival in which cats were thrown from the top of a tower. Scraps of such attitudes remain embedded in idiom. Imagine the outcry if people began saying that a cramped space didn't have enough room to swing a dog. Some of the most interesting parts indicate holes in our current scientific knowledge. No one knows why cats go crazy for catnip , nor why they are able "to classify shapes according to whether they are closed or open".
Kittens, meanwhile, "may also use special movements of their tails to signal playfulness, but so far no scientist has been able to decode these". As far as potential research projects go, decoding the tail-language of playing kittens must be about the cutest unsolved problem in science. Luckily, then, cats probably aren't aware that today they are once again hate-figures, the furry target of spittle-spraying ecologists who, armed with dodgy statistics, accuse cats of wantonly "murdering" all the country's songbirds.
Rats also kill songbirds, and cats keep their numbers down; while the RSPB says the disappearance of habitat is a far more important factor in the decline of songbird populations than predator numbers. But we could at least, Bradshaw suggests, reverse the counterproductive selection pressure we currently exert on the domestic cat when we neuter house cats before they reproduce.
Unintentionally, we are causing cats to evolve into animals society won't like as much. Inveterate cat-haters, those defective humans, probably won't appreciate this book, but anyone else might. It is written in a friendly and engaging way, has helpful tips for cat owners, and is packed with excellent cat facts.
That information indicated that the British army had considerable superiority in numbers in the North African theater against the Afrika Korps. These quantitative returns could not indicate, however, such factors as the technological superiority of German tanks and particularly the qualitative edge in doctrine and training that the Germans enjoyed.
The intercepts, however, explain why Churchill kept consistent pressure on British Eighth Army commanders to attack the Afrika Korps. In war, so many factors other than good intelligence impinge on operations that it is difficult to single out any one battle or period in which Ultra alone was of decisive import. Yet there was least one instance in which decrypted German codes did play a decisive role in mitigating enemy capabilities.
By the first half of , as more and more U-boats were coming on line, the German submarine force was beginning to have a shattering impact on the trade routes on which the survival of Britain depended. The number of of British, Allied, and neutral ships sunk climbed ominously upward.
But in mid-May , they captured not only a German weather trawler with considerable material detailing settings for naval codes but also a U-boat, U , with its cipher machine and all accompanying material. With these seizures, British intelligence gained the navy Enigma settings for the next two months. As a result, the British were able to break into U-boat message traffic at the end of May.
The impact of this intelligence on the Battle of the Atlantic was immediate and crucial.
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The dramatic decline in sinkings compared with those that had occurred during the first five months of cannot be explained other than that Ultra gave the British a crucial edge over their undersea opponents. No new technology, no increase in escorts, and no extension of air coverage can be credited. Ultra alone made the difference. Thus, right when the vulnerable eastern and southern coasts of the United States opened up to U-boat attacks, Ultra intelligence on German intentions and operations ceased.
Direction-finding intelligence was available, of course, but it remained of limited assistance. The Battle of the Atlantic in was a disaster for the Allies. When the Germans turned their full attention back to the North Atlantic in early , enormous convoy battles occurred with increasing frequency. In opposition, the Allies possessed greater numbers of escort vessels, including escort carriers whose aircraft now made the shadowing of convoys by U-boats almost impossible.
Moreover, long-range aircraft from Newfoundland, Iceland, and Northern Ireland were reaching farther into the Atlantic. At the beginning of , the Allied naval commanders enjoyed one further advantage. Bletchley Park had once again broken the German naval ciphers. That intelligence was not quite as useful as the Ultra intelligence of that had allowed the British to steer convoys around U-boat concentrations. At times, the Allies were able to carry out similar evasive operations, but the number of German submarines at sea at any given point made such maneuvers increasingly difficult and often impossible.
From March to May , the U-boat onslaught badly battered Allied convoys. Ultra intelligence played a major role in the turnaround. Because of increases in Allied escort strength and long-range aircraft patrols, one must hesitate in identifying Ultra as decisive by itself. I am sure that without the work of many unknown experts at Bletchley Park…the turning point of the Battle of the Atlantic could not have come as it did in May , but months, perhaps many months, later.
In that case the Allied invasion of Normandy could not have been possible in June , and there would have ensued a chain of developments very different from the ones which we have experienced. Belatedly, Ultra began affecting the air war on both the tactical and the strategic levels. British decoding capabilities during the Battle of Britain did not provide major help to Fighter Command.
On the other hand, throughout and , Ultra provided valuable insights into what the Germans and Italians were doing in the Mediterranean and supplied Allied naval and air commanders with detailed, specific information on the movement of Axis convoys from Italy to North Africa. By March , Anglo-American air forces operating in the Mediterranean had succeeded in shutting down Axis seaborne convoys to Tunisia.
Allied information was so good, in fact, that after a convoy had been hit, the German air corps located in Tunisia reported to its higher headquarters, ironically in a message that was intercepted and decoded:. The enemy activity today in the air and on the sea must in [the] view of Fliegerkorps Tunis, lead to the conclusion that the course envisaged for convoy D and C was betrayed to the enemy. At hours a comparatively strong four-engine aircraft formation was north of Bizerte.
Also a warship formation consisting of light cruisers and destroyers lay north of Bizerte, although no enemy warships had been sighted in the sea area for weeks. As was to be the case throughout the war, the Germans then drew the conclusion that traitors either in their own high command or elsewhere—in this case, in the Commando Supremo , the Italian high command—had betrayed the course of the convoys. In the battles for control of the air over Sicily, Ultra proved equally beneficial. It enabled the Allies to take advantage of German fuel and ammunition shortages and to spot Axis dispositions on the airfields of Sicily and southern Italy.
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In regard to U. Luftwaffe message-traffic intercepts indicated quite correctly how seriously Allied air attacks were affecting the German air wing, but these intercepts may have prompted Lt. Ira Eaker, the U. The second great attack on Schweinfurt in October , as well as the other great bomber raids of that month, proved disastrous for the Eighth Air Force crews who flew the missions. The Eighth lost sixty bombers in the Schweinfurt run. Moreover, the U. While bomber attacks did inflict heavy damage on German aircraft factories, the industry was in no sense destroyed.
Likewise, attacks on ball-bearing plants failed to have a decisive impact. Most important, the Eighth Air Force received long-range fighter support to make deep penetration raids possible. The initial emphasis in American strategic bombing attacks in late winter and early spring lay first on hitting the German aircraft industry and then on preparing the way for the invasion of the Continent. In May, Lt.
Carl Spaatz, commander in chief of U. In attacking that industry, Spaatz hit the Germans at their most vulnerable economic point. On May 12, , Bs attacked synthetic oil plants throughout Germany. On May 16, Bletchley Park forwarded to the Eighth an intercept canceling a general staff order that Luftflotten Air Fleets 1 and 6 surrender five heavy and four light or medium flak batteries each to Luftflotte 3, which was defending France. Those flak batteries were to move instead to protect the hydrogenation plant at Troglitz, a crucial German synthetic fuel facility.