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View Diary: Alan Turing May Receive His Long Awaited Due (183 comments)

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  •  He wasn't relegated to the footnotes because he (3+ / 0-)
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    AlanF, Uberbah, brein

    was gay -- he was relegated to the footnotes because his major achievements in the public domain were theoretical mathematical results. Most of his life's most important work wasn't even declassified until the mid-70s and then the mid-80s.

    Nobody has ever heard of John Von Neumann either. He wasn't gay, and he was more influential than Turing -- it's just that the nature of his achievements was pretty esoteric.

    Both Turing and Von Neumann were, primarily, mathematicians. How many 20th century mathematicians can the average college-educated American name? Or put another way, what percentage of college-educated Americans can name two 20th-century mathematicians? (And how many of those only make it to two because they've heard of John Nash -- a relatively minor figure compared to Turing or Von Neumann or Godel -- because somebody made a movie about his battle with schizophrenia?) What percentage can name even one? What percentage can name two mathematicians in all of history? (Okay, they'll recognize "Euclid" and "Newton" and "Pythagoras", but if you asked them, name two mathematicians, do you think they'd be able to?)

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 09:57:53 AM PDT

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    •  What??? (1+ / 0-)
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      I never even mentioned Von Neumann...I was talking about General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben.

      Even if Turing's accomplishments during WW2 weren't declassified until the 70's, it's a good bet that he would be more of a household name if he was not gay, just as Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben should be a household name for the Revolutionary War. He definately ranks right up there with the military generals that we all learned in school, but few of us know who he is.

      They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

      by legendmn on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 10:12:11 AM PDT

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      •  I didn't say you mentioned Von Neumann. (2+ / 0-)
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        AlanF, Uberbah

        I mentioned Von Neumann, as a comparison point with Turing, which seems perhaps more apt than your example, since Von Neumann and Turing were both 20th-century mathematicians whose work provided the foundations of modern computing, whereas von Steuben was an 18th-century general.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Wed Sep 09, 2009 at 10:23:53 AM PDT

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