Sunday, 24 June 2012

Turing didn't kill himself? First I've heard

A few days ago, I regretted that Alan Turing had committed suicide. I wasn't the first to do so, after all he died before I was born. 
This extract from the Advocate tells us that the famous apple was never tested. 
Turing died of cyanide poisoning and a half eaten apple was found near his bed. Legend goes that Turing was fascinated with the fairy tale of Snow White and poisoned himself with an apple to end the persecution he was getting for being gay. But Copeland argues that Turing ate an apple every night before bed (something others knew as well), the apple was never tested for cyanide, and there were no indications anywhere that Turing was anything less than upbeat and forward thinking. He even wrote a to-do list for the next week.
This extract from the same article tells us why he might want to commit suicide.
Knowing Turing's history might make it easy to understand suicide, wrote BBC's Roland Pease. After all, in 1952, after he had reported a burglary, the war hero was investigated for "acts of gross indecency" because he had had a male lover in his house. Instead of prison, Turing accepted what was called "chemical castration," essentially hormone treatment to suppress his sexual desire."
And so if he didn't take his own life, how did he die? Given his war time role in helping defeat the Germans, we could always cook up a Bier und Wurst conspiracy theory, or one analogous to the Russian chemical poisoning a few years ago. But according to the article that the BBC ran three hours ago and which is quoted in the Advocate, his death is thought to have involved inhalation of cyanide, or accidentally dipping his apple in it. Whatever.

PS whilst on the BBC page, the video is to be seen.