Culture | The Knowledge Dynasty

Culture

Alan Turing’s school report reveals little of his genius

Items from codebreaker’s life and death go on display at Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

Alan Turing's Report Card

 

In 1929, a teenager’s end-of-term report noted that his English reading was weak, his French prose was very weak, his essays grandiose beyond his abilities, and his mathematical promise undermined by his untidy work.

The report gave few clues that Alan Turing would come to be seen as a genius, a mathematician and computer pioneer whose codebreaking work at Bletchley Park helped shorten the second world war and whose name is given to a test for artificial intelligence.

“He must remember that Cambridge will want sound knowledge rather than vague ideas,” his physics teacher wrote.

The report from Sherborne school is going on display for the first time this week, at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge. The Codebreakers and Groundbreakers exhibition also displays items borrowed from the government communications headquarters, GCHQ, such as a German coding machine and its British equivalent which the Germans never cracked.

The loans from the Turing archive include a science book which contained a chapter on codebreaking that he chose as a school prize in honour of his beloved friend Christopher Morcom, a brilliant pupil who died of tuberculosis aged 18. Turing won the prize for an experiment first demonstrated to him by Morcom.

Alan Turing's Teaspoon

A teaspoon removed from Alan Turings room by his mother after his death in 1954. Photograph: The Fitzwilliam Museum/PA
A more poignant memento is a battered spoon which Turings mother took from his room after his death in 1954, which most biographers believe was suicide after he was forced to accept chemical castration to avoid prison after being prosecuted for being homosexual. His mother believed his death from cyanide poisoning was accidental, the result of his experiments in gold-plating cutlery, and labelled the spoon: It seems quite probable that he was intending to gold-plate this one using cyanide of potassium of his own manufacture.

A letter written to his mother from Bletchley Park, where he helped crack the German Enigma and other codes, describes his sponsorship of two Jewish refugee boys to come to Britain.

The exhibition contrasts the wartime codebreakers with their contemporaries who were working on deciphering Linear B inscriptions in Mycenaean Greek, the oldest writing system in Europe.

  • Codebreakers and Groundbreakers is at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 4 February 2018

 

 

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2017/oct/23/alan-turing-school-report-fitzwilliam-museum-cambridge

Under the skin: how insertable microchips could unlock the future

Volunteers in Melbourne have had microchips inserted for three months, designed to unlock doors and carry out other tasks. Will they really be any use?

Man with microchip

 

The microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and usually inserted in the webbing between the thumb and forefinger using a needle the same thickness as used in body piercing.

It feels, says insertable technology expert Kayla Heffernan, like getting a drip.

Once the needle is removed the incision heals in a few days and the microchip remains, allowing the wearer to open doors with the brush of a hand provided they only wish to access one particular place.

Microchip being embedded in hand

Microchips are encased in an inert glass capsule and typically inserted between the thumb and the forefinger. Photograph: Kayla Heffernan/Pause Fest

Commercially available insertable microchips are only large enough to hold one access code and a small amount of other information, so the days of replacing an entire wallet and keychain with a tiny computer under the skin are not yet upon us.

The future is coming, but its not in a rush.

Ten volunteers received a microchip at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne on Wednesday to mark the launch of Pause Fest, a technology and culture festival now in its eighth year.

Their chips were preloaded with a three-day pass to the festival and will be programmed to unlock the door to their home, gym, or workplace, or potentially to function as their public transport pass.

When the festival is held in four months time, the volunteers will take part in a panel with Heffernan to talk about whether they found the chips useful.

Heffernan has had one microchip between her thumb and forefinger for almost 18 months, which she uses to unlock her front door. She got another on the outer edge of her other hand last November to access her office at Melbourne University.

She is doing a PhD on the applications of insertable technology and decided to get a chip after a year spent listening to people wax lyrical about the convenience of never having to carry their keys.

If I want I can just walk out without any keys, my key is in my hand so I cant forget it, which is handy because I have locked myself out before, Heffernan says.

Some people use it to unlock their phones or their computers. Some people have modified their cars and one person even their motorbike, so its not only access to their house but its access to their vehicle and to turn it on. Obviously that requires quite a bit of microelectronics and physical mechanical work, and thats not accessible for everyone.

Heffernans original chip usually contains a link to her website, which people can access if they scan her hand with their phone, provided they have the near-field communication (NFC) capabilities switched on. At the moment it just says hello because she is demonstrating that it could be reprogrammed.

The security risk, she says, is quite low.

The read range is very short, so you have to be touching my hand, she says. Im going to know if thats happened. And even for a nefarious purpose, if someone knocked me out, lets say, it has my website on it. It doesnt have anything useful that theyre going to be able to take.

Insertable microchips made global headlines earlier this year when Stockholm firm Epicentre gave its staff the option of having an insertable chip in lieu of a swipe card. Three Square Market, a tech company in Wisconsin, followed suit.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/01/under-the-skin-how-insertable-microchips-could-unlock-the-future

‘The US hasn’t been this divided since the 60s’: Slipknot’s Corey Taylor on how to save America

For his new book, America 51, the Slipknot frontman has been examining the sicknesses at the heart of US culture and from Donald Trump to modern dating; here’s his exclusive guide to navigating them.

Corey Taylor

 

Don’t fear Donald Trump

He is so ineffectual. Everyone was worried about the crazy things he’d do, but there’s nothing that he’s done that can’t be changed in another administration, like the Paris agreement. There’s no need to panic. Too many I don’t want to say liberal lambasts are hitting the panic button too quickly, instead of bringing up issues and talking about them. For me it’s really a case of: what’s going on with the senators, what’s going on on a local level?

Sure, Trump is the firebrand, and everyone wants to talk about the return of Nuremburg after that Boy Scout rally, but whatever. People forget: he hasn’t done shit. He really hasn’t. Even with his party in control of both houses, nothing has happened. He hasn’t fulfilled one promise.

So what am I scared of? I think people need to calm down, and keep fighting the illogical with logic. He won by the smallest of margins. And honestly, he only got in on a technicality. It’s shit like that you have to keep reminding yourself of, because they will try and paint a completely different picture. Rhetoric is swirling around. If only there was an interconnected device to look back in time to see what the truth and the reality was! I say that with all the sarcasm in the world.

Donald Trump

He hasn’t fulfilled one promise… Donald Trump. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

Toxic masculinity has been in America forever

It’s only because of this presidency that we are getting a really good taste of it. In a misogynistic culture, there’s this misconception that doing good things for people, and trying to take care of them, is a pussy move. The result is a bunch of people pumping their chests up, and talking shit on women, talking shit on gay people, talking shit about everyone. They feel threatened; their way of life feels threatened.

A lot of it has to do with the fact that the liberal and LGBT community is coming at them fast and loose with concepts they are not used to; they’re not part of their culture, and yet they are being forced to accept them. There’s liberal fascism in response to the conservative fascism, and it’s keeping good people in the middle scratching their heads and thinking: “I don’t know what to believe.” And part of that reaction is this pumped-up masculine middle finger going: You don’t tell me how to live my life. It’s their mind balking at the fact that they may have to accept something when they haven’t had the chance to understand what it is.

For so many years they have been in control of what is culturally accepted, and the whole LGBT community is trying to override that, because they’re tired of being marginalised, they’re tired of being treated like a perversion. It’s very much a war. I lived through the Reagan years and I grew up during the gas shortage, I grew up seeing some serious shit go down. But I dont think the country has been this divided since the 1960s.

Kid Rock

I’m about as qualified for senate as he is, i.e. not at all … Kid Rock. Photograph: Getty

Celebrities: stop running for senate

Kid Rock is for running for senate, and I’m about as qualified as he is, i.e. not at all. It’s the same as the Rock; I love the idea of him saying he wants to run for president but they’re just another pair of voices saying that they can get it done, and look where that’s got us.

There are still so many cabinet positions that have not been filled in this administration, because Trump is completely overwhelmed. And that’s a guy who reportedly knows how to run a business. So what the hell is Kid Rock going to do? It’s the biggest form of ego I have ever heard in my life. Please go ahead. Drive a car with a blindfold on and see how far it gets you.

Modern dating is gross

It brings out this crazy psychosis in all of us. At least on a blind date you have to kind of be yourself; they’re going to see the sweat, and see you’re struggling. But dating sites and apps put you at ease, and so all the little gnarly quirks and perversions come out. Hey, if it brings freaks together, who am I to judge? I think everyone has someone out there, and I would like to see people get together. But are you really trying to meet the love of your life on Grindr?

Romance isn’t dead, though. As long as there are hopeless romantics like myself, I don’t think it will die. We will just see an evolution of what romance means. There are still people who love selfless acts. And if its something as weird as a very heartfelt post on Twitter, to some people that’s huge. To some people that’s the ultimate act of romance.

Corey Taylor

I’m the worst hypocrite… Corey Taylor in his civvies.

We’re addicted to our phones

I’m the worst hypocrite because I bitch about it, but Im just as bad as everyone else. I wander around with this tiny little tablet in my hand, and I look up and see that someone has asked me a question. It’s so embarrassing. These devices are bringing out all the dopamine that I had wasted for years on smoking and drinking and drugs, and I’m waiting for what the hangover is going to feel like. I don’t know what the repercussions are going to be, but maybe we’re starting to see the end of face-to-face relationships, and more and more people being comfortable with long distance relationships. Why do I need to touch anyone? All I need is my phone and this contact and that’s all I need.

Don’t worry about the environment

My contribution to being eco-friendly is quitting smoking. I recycle. I do this and that. But all you can really worry about is your own side of things. If you start to think about it on a huge scale then you get overwhelmed. At the same time, I’d like to think we’re trying to do the right thing and we are trying to get this planet on the right track; not because of the planet, but because of us. George Carlin nailed this 25 years ago. He said: the planet is fine, the people are fucked!

The planet is going to be here long after we are gone. Don’t try and bullshit me that we are saving the planet we are saving ourselves. We put so much emphasis on the planet and not on the people, because we feel it’s more selfless, but if people were more honest maybe we would get more done with climate change. I’m not trying to save shit. I don’t give a fuck about the planet; I just want to keep my kids alive.

The music industry is like the wild west

The industry is trying to make peace with streaming; they’re finding out how to monetise it, but they’re still screwing over the artists. It’s sad because I’m seeing a lot of bands get out because they can’t make a living. How are you supposed to make a living when it’s completely taken out of your hands?

I’m in a unique situation because I’m in the old system, but I’m actually able to make a pretty decent living with the new system. I find it hard to bite the hand that feeds me. But at the same time I see all these other bands who can’t get a break. I don’t know what the answer is to be honest. I’m stoked for people like Ed Sheeran; that kid worked his ass off, so why shouldn’t he get the recognition? But at the same time when his songs dominated [the charts] because of streaming, where is the fairness? What about the other artists who worked their asses off, but maybe didn’t have a million streams?

DJ Khaled, Chance the Rapper and Ed Sheeran

DJ Khaled, Chance the Rapper and Ed Sheeran… Corey Taylor is a fan of one of these men the others, not so much. Photograph: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Hip-hop has dethroned rock’n’roll as America’s music

I could have told you this 20 years ago. The thing that bothers me is that people differentiate pop and hip-hop but they’re the same thing. I hate most new hip-hop. It’s all the same mush-mouthed bullshit, and it doesn’t say anything except I want to get fucked and drink champagne. It’s pathetic. The hip-hop I grew up with had a message. There’s a reason Chuck D is my hero, let me put it that way.

Artificial intelligence is taking over the world

A lot of people are upset because too many manufacturing jobs are gone, but there are so many companies coming up that need a workforce. There’s a reason the market is doing well in America even though the presidency is shit, because the prior presidency actually left behind a healthy infrastructure with growth happening. Trump’s going to try and take credit for that, but there’s always a two or four year hangover. The problem comes when you start to see deregulation happening on a federal level when it comes to big business; that’s when the machines come in, that’s when the outsourcing comes in.

But all of these insurance companies are hiring, all of these tech companies are hiring. People look at those industries and go: “I’m not intelligent or pretentious enough.” But if you want to feed your family, then a job is a job. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and go with what you have to do. Follow where the work is. If industries want to keep outsourcing and replacing people with programs, then stop buying those products. Hit them where it hurts. That’s what it comes down to.

Corey Talyor on stage with Slipknot

Corey Taylor on stage with Slipknot. Photograph: Raphael Dias/Getty Images

Everyone is appropriating metal culture

You’re seeing grandmas in Slipknot shirts. It’s really weird. It makes it easier for me to blend in, which I am completely happy to do; you get tired of the stares after a while. But punk and metallers take fascist imagery like shaved heads and black clothing and divorce it from racism and nationalism, to make a statement about disaffection; you’re now seeing people like Richard Spencer who are not only appropriating the imagery of nationalism, but also the rhetoric. The anger, the racism of it. It worries me. Oh, but Justin Bieber’s line in pseudo-metal T-shirts? He can kiss my ass.

  • Corey Taylor was speaking to Harriet Gibsone. America 51 is out now, published by Da Capo. His new album with Stone Sour, Hydrograd, is out now on Roadrunner; the bands UK tour begins at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena on 29 November. The Slipknot documentary Day of the Gusano will screen nationwide on 6 September.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/sep/06/slipknot-corey-taylor-how-to-save-america-donald-trump

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Categories

Coursera

New Skills, New You: Transform your career in 2016 with Coursera

Follow us on Twitter