December 13, 2014

Alan Turing and The Imitation Game - Some Original Documents Found At Bletchley Park


From You Tube:

The Imitation Game comes out tonight, but before its release, Hank got to talk with the film's director Morten Tyldum and screenwriter Graham Moore about bringing one of the world's most brilliant mathematicians to film.
Hosted by: Hank Green

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Crumpled-up Alan Turing documents discovered in Bletchley Park Renovation

By Miles Gough

Top secret code-breaking documents drafted by Alan Turing during WWII have been discovered in the ceiling of a building at Bletchley Park in the UK. 

Plugging structural holes with wastepaper seems like an unconventional way to stop a draught. What’s even more unconventional is using top secret documents devised by one of the greatest code-breaking minds in human history. 

But this is apparently what happened in Hut 6 at Bletchley Park, where the famous mathematician Alan Turing and his colleagues cracked the codes of the German Enigma machines, enabling Allied Forces to anticipate Nazi movements. 

The famous British code-breaking compound, which employed roughly 10,000 people during WWII, was shrouded in secrecy for nearly three decades afterward, with former staff prohibited from talking about their wartime duties.  

More recently, however, the site has become a big tourist draw, and in 2013 multi-million dollar restoration effort began to salvage some of the decrepit buildings, including some of the huts occupied by Turing and his colleagues. 

Renovations on one of the buildings, Hut 6, turned up top secret documents stuffed into holes in the ceiling. What’s more, is that these papers are believed to have been created by Alan Turing, and should have been destroyed under British wartime laws.

The documents have been identified as ‘Banbury sheets', and may be the only surviving examples of these code-breaking tools, which had holes punched through them to allow manual comparison of enciphered texts. The cards, which were given their name because they were printed in Banbury, England, exploit a cryptology technique known as banburismus which was developed by Turing to more efficiently search for repeat patterns in the German code. 

“Discovering these pieces of code-breaking ephemera is incredibly exciting and provides yet more insight into how the code breakers actually worked,” Bletchley Park Trust chief executive Ian Standen told The Times

“The fact that these papers were used to block draughty holes in the primitive hut walls reminds us of the rudimentary conditions under which these extraordinary people were working.”

The huts at Bletchley Park were designed to be temporary structures that could be easily demolished after the war, and the conditions inside were known to be pretty grim. Fortunately for us, it means documents that legally should have ended up in an incinerator for the purposes of national security, have survived, albeit crumpled up and hidden inside a ceiling for the better part of 70 years. 

(And if you're wondering why they look so good in the images, it's because they were frozen at the time of discovery to prevent further damage, and later cleaned and repaired).

In addition to the Banbury sheets, other code-breaking documents were recovered that couldn't be identified, Bletchley Park’s Director of Learning and Collections, Victoria Worpole, said in a statement

“Nobody seems to be able to work out what they are – we’ve sent things off to Government Communications Headquarters — and there are a number of items that we’ve yet to understand properly. We’re unveiling a mystery.”

The Turing Digital Archives already contain a number of personal letters, notes, photographs, and unpublished papers written by the man who is considered to be one of the fathers of computer science and artificial intelligence. Now, it seems, there will be more documents to add to the already rich collection.  

With thanks to Science Alert. More pictures there.


 The Grand Budapest Hotel amid BAFTA contenders 
COMIC confection The Grand Budapest Hotel is the surprise front runner for the British Academy Film Awards, while English acting darlings Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch are competing in the best-actor category.
WES Anderson's Hotel received 11 nominations on Friday, including best picture and best director.

Ralph Fiennes was nominated for best actor as the unflappable concierge of a chaotic European hostelry.
Acting nominees also include Michael Keaton, as a washed-up actor aiming for a comeback in Birdman. The Alejandro Inarritu-directed movie was nominated in 10 categories, as was James Marsh's The Theory of Everything, which stars Redmayne as physicist Stephen Hawking.
Redmayne said his acting nomination was "beyond imagination".
He insisted he felt no rivalry with Cumberbatch, who was nominated for playing World War II code breaker Alan Turing in The Imitation Game. That film received nine nominations.
"One can try and create a rivalry but it will not happen!" Redmayne said from Los Angeles.
"We both absolutely understand people wanting to pitch us against each other, but we are old, old friends and I think he is the most wonderful actor. He is sensational in The Imitation Game and I love watching him. "
Jake Gyllenhaal is also nominated for his performance as a sleazy journalist in Nightcrawler.
But there was no recognition for Timothy Spall, whose performance as artist JMW Turner in Mr Turner took the best-actor prize at Cannes.
Best-actress contenders are Felicity Jones for The Theory of Everything, Amy Adams for Big Eyes, Julianne Moore for Still Alice, Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl and Reese Witherspoon for Wild.
Other front runners include Richard Linklater's decade-spanning Boyhood and Damien Chazelle's drumming drama Whiplash. They have five nominations each.
The best-picture nominees are Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything.
The separate category of best British picture includes The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything alongside tense Northern Ireland drama '71, alien chiller Under the Skin and animated ursine adventure Paddington.
Winners of the awards, known as BAFTAs, will be decided by 6500 members of the British film academy and announced at London's Royal Opera House on February 8.
The British prizes are seen as an indicator of likely success at Hollywood's Academy Awards, whose nominees are announced next week.
With thanks to The Australian

Ed: We now know that Eddie Redmayne won the BAFTA for "The Theory of Everything".
Below: Benedict Cumberbatch.

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