Work and life of Alan Turing – level 3

26-03-2015 15:00

Alan Turing helped to crack the Nazi Enigma code during the Second World War, so imagine the maths and computer science gems hidden within these pages! This is a 56-page notebook written by Turing in 1942. And in April, it’s being auctioned in New York. This week, it was previewed in Hong Kong.

“The manuscript is the most extensive known manuscript done by Alan Turing, who’s known as the father of computing. He’s also the man who broke the Nazi Enigma code during World War II. There are no other manuscripts by him in private hands. There’s never been one to sell at market. It’s almost 100% sure that there will not be another one.”

Also being sold is a three-rotor Enigma enciphering machine, the same model Turing helped to break.

“It’s an original World War II German Enigma machine, so it is the enciphering machine that the Nazis used to encode secret messages to send to each other, you know, describing which U-boat to bomb for example… And it is this very machine, not this specific one, but this model, that Alan Turing was working to break the code for.”

Alan Turing was recently played by Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game,” a film that reflected the way he was treated during his life. He never received credit for his work during the war and committed suicide in 1954. At the time, he was receiving hormone treatment after being charged with homosexuality, which was then a crime. He was eventually pardoned sixty years later.

The notebook being sold in New York was actually left to his friend Robin Gandhi. He kept it hidden until his death in 1995.

Difficult words: gem (something very important and rare), manuscript (something written by hand), extensive (with a lot of information inside), encipher (turn a piece of text into a coded form).



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When you listen to people in your native language, you do not translate. You simply understand. The same has to be in English. When you learn English, you have to learn the whole sentences in context.

Students, who translate English texts, do exercises and do tests are very good at translating, doing exercises and doing tests, but they have problems with understanding English in real life. In real life, nobody waits for your translation. People usually use simple English when they speak but they use it fast. You have to understand with no translation to your native language. If you translate, you cannot be part of communication because you are thinking about the language too much. These words are maybe hard to read but they are true.

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