Here at last
Published Thu, Jun 12 2008 8:53 AM
Some time back I wrote about my efforts to re-write my computer simulation without any dependencies on the Microsoft .NET framework. Those efforts were pretty much successful, although I left them unfinished. I still haven't re-written the help file. I still haven't connected the help file to the application, and I still haven't implemented the slider that adjusts the "clock speed" of the machine. Nevertheless, I did package it up. You can download the zip file containing the installer and run it on your machine if you get into that sort of thing.
My inspiration for writing that application came several years ago when I read Charles Petzold's wonderful book Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software. Now, his new book is out, and my pre-ordered copy has finally arrived! His new book is titled The Annotated Turing: A Guided Tour through Alan Turing's Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine. As soon as I realized it was here, I ripped open the box and started reading it. This book is going to be a bit of a tougher read than the other one, but it looks promising already.
Alan Turing provides an opportunity for an important lesson about things that are seemingly unrelated to computers and mathematics. First and foremost, he was a man, a member of that species of imperfect beings crafted in God's image. He gave the world two great gifts with the Turing Machine (without which, you wouldn't be reading this) and the Turing Test (a way to determine if a machine could possibly be intelligent). He was also hounded by the world and died a very tragic death after only 41 years on this Earth.
The lesson we are given the opportunity to learn from Alan Turing's life is about tolerance and acceptance. Alan Turing was a victim of homophobia and as a result committed suicide at the age of 41. I'm not an advocate of homosexuality, far from it. Nevertheless, I know that I am an imperfect man myself, and I believe that we all must be tolerant of the choices and lifestyles of others. It's not necessary to agree with or even to accept someone's chosen lifestyle to be tolerant of them and to accept them as a human being. And we MUST be tolerant of one another and accept each other as human beings, or we are less than human ourselves.
Alan Turing was a brilliant man, and without him the information age would probably not have turned out as it has. Imagine the gifts he could have given to the world had he lived in a more tolerant time.
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