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Encountering the Genius of Alan Turing

It is a rare experience to meet an authentic genius. Those of us privileged to inhabit the world of scholarship are familiar with the intellectual stimulation furnished by talented colleagues. We can admire the ideas they share with us and are usually able to understand their source; we may even often believe that we ourselves could have created such concepts and originated such thoughts.

However, the experience of sharing the intellectual life of a genius is entirely different; one realizes that one is in the presence of an intelligence, a sensibility of such profundity and originality that one is filled with wonder and excitement.

Alan Turing was such a genius, and those, like myself, who had the astonishing and unexpected opportunity, created by the strange exigencies of the Second World War, to be able to count Turing as colleague and friend will never forget that experience, nor can we ever lose its immense benefit to us.

Mathematician Peter Hilton – Wikipedia – Alan Turing

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A convivial pub drinker at Bletchley Park, Hilton also spent time with Turing working on chess problems and palindromes. He there constructed a 51-letter palindrome:

“Doc note, I dissent. A fast never prevents a fatness. I diet on cod.”

He did not use paper or pencil while composing it, but lay on his bed, eyes closed, and assembled it mentally over one night. It took him five hours.

Wikipedia – Peter Hilton

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