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By Edmund T. Whittaker

In 1910 I released a piece lower than the name A historical past of the Theories of Aether and electrical energy, from the age of Descartes to the shut of the 19th century. while the unique version was once exhausted, I felt that any new factor may still describe the origins of relativity and quantum-theory, and their improvement on the grounds that 1900. My possibilities have been although now not adequate to permit me to arrange a correct and fully-documented account of this very inventive interval, and that i used to be forced to put the plan apart. Retirement from my professorial chair has made it attainable for me to take in this venture back ; it is going to occupy volumes, of which this, the 1st, bargains with the classical theories. the quantity of 1910 has been to a substantial quantity rewritten, with the incorporation of a lot extra fabric ; and within the moment quantity, the tale may be persevered to the current time.

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It may take years before we settle down to the new possibilities, but I do not see why it should not enter any one of the fields normally covered by the human intellect, and eventually compete on equal terms. ’ The business about sonnets began with Sir Geoffrey Jefferson, who was the professor of neurosurgery at the University of Manchester and had spoken on the subject ‘The mind of mechanical man’ in his Lister Oration, the day before The Times interview. Sir Geoffrey was unenthusiastic about the idea of thinking machines, and among his remarks he had said: not until a machine can write a sonnet or compose a concerto because of thoughts and emotions felt, and not by the chance fall of symbols, could we agree that machine equals brain.

My grandmother was still forlornly trying to get him to tidy himself up:2 He lived at the Crown Inn, Shenley Brook End, some three miles out of Bletchley. Here his kind landlady, Mrs Ramshaw, took great care of him and generally mothered him and admonished him about his clothes. Someone on the staff at Bletchley Park reported to a relative of ours that Alan was ‘wrapped up in his theories and wild as to hair and clothes and conventions, but a dear fellow’. Alan himself deplored the shabby clothes of some other people at Bletchley Park and complained that they wore them ‘not even patched’.

After the war, the law against the expression of male homosexuality was upheld with rigorous fervour in Britain, and in January 1952 Turing, then a Reader at Manchester University and a Fellow of the Royal Society, was arrested and charged with committing ‘an act of gross indecency’ with his friend Arnold Murray. Of course, he didn’t deny the charge, but he did not agree that he had done anything wrong. He was bound over on condition that he submit to hormonal treatment designed to diminish his libido; the only obvious effect was that he developed breasts.

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