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Famous Biologists
Famous Mathematicians
Famous Physicists
Famous Psychologists


Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Fleming
Albert Bandura
Claude Bernard
Alfred Binet
Franz Boas
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Max Born
Louis de Broglie
Noam Chomsky
Nicolaus Copernicus
Francis Crick
Marie Curie
John Dalton
Charles Darwin
Rene Descartes
Thomas Edison
Albert Einstein
Leonhard Euler
Michael Faraday
Benjamin Franklin
Sigmund Freud
Galileo Galilei
Jane Goodall
Stephen Hawking
Heinrich Hertz
Edwin Hubble
Christiaan Huygens
Edward Jenner
Johannes Kepler
Antoine Laurent Lavoisier
Anton van Leeuwenhoek
Kurt Lewin
Charles Lyell
James Clerk Maxwell
Isaac Newton

Jean Piaget
Louis Pasteur
Linus Pauling
Ivan Pavlov
Max Planck
Ernest Rutherford
Jonas Salk
Erwin Schrodinger
B. F. Skinner
Nikola Tesla
Joseph J. Thomson
Alan Turing
Alessandro Volta
John B. Watson
Wilhelm Wundt





Alan Turing

Alan Turing led a brilliant but tragic life, and his insightful, mathematically advanced mind could sadly not save him from the rampant prejudices of his time. He began the era of computing and aided in ending a war.

Alan Turing

Turing was the godfather of our computer science, and he died when he was only 41. The cause of death was apparent suicide, after he was criminally convicted of sleeping with another man. We'll never know everything we lost when his life was ended at such a young age.

He thought in a deep and philosophical way, and he could design pragmatic systems. He was already a prodigious mathematician even at the young age of 23. Turing laid out the modern computer's basic framework in a paper that reformulated a mathematical puzzle that was known as Entscheidungsproblem (a challenge given by David Hilbert in 1928).

Turing would prove that the conundrum couldn't be solved but he also described what is now called Turing Machine. It had infinite tape on which it was able to read and write, erase and remember many ones and zeros, leading to the binary system that is at the root of all computers now.

Binary notation and read-write memory were the basic concepts of computing. The earliest computer hardware could not work to its fullest without that infinite tape, which would not evolve until the birth of the Internet. The description Turing gave of digital computing has been called prophetic.

Turing did not plan to build his machine, and perhaps he didn't even realize the radical importance of what he'd done. When World War II began, his work in the theoretical became vitally important. He used his skills to break codes for the Allies, developing the Truing Bombe, which could ascertain the always-changing encryption of the German army. This gave the Allies valuable insight into the plans of Germany's military leaders.

His triumph would not become known until 30 years after the end of the war. It actually has been said to have caused more effect than the true bomb, the Manhattan Project. By the end of the war, Turing Bombes were decoding thousands of messages intercepted from the German military, processing valid information on a scale that had never before been seen.

At the end of the war, Turing designed what would today be called computers and software. He wrote a paper in 1950 about what he termed "thinking machines", and what would eventually be known as artificial intelligence. He predicted that by the end of the 1900's, machines would accomplish the feat of making people believe that they were human, about one third of the time. He determined that humans would perceive these as thinking machines. Computer scientists use the artificial intelligence envisioned by Turing to simultaneously translate words in many languages, or to search or sort all of human knowledge.

Only two years after his paper was published, Turing was arrested for "gross indecency", with a man, for which he was sentenced to estrogen treatments to "cure" him. He developed breasts, and the estrogen stripped him of his manhood. Only the scientific world has credited him with the accolades he deserves for his extensive work in early computing.

Rumor Has It

Rumor has it that besides the accurate biography presented above, Alan Turing once applied to become a train conductor. They turned him down because they said he had a one-track mind and kept losing his train of thought.


Written by Kevin Lepton