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Maths Genius’s Story + DiCaprio + Howard = Hit

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Caffeinated Clint
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Clint is the creator, editor and maintainer of Moviehole.


Another day, another potential new vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio.

The always in-demand actor, currently downunder shooting “The Great Gatsby” and last week rumoured to be taking on the role of a master assassin in the feature film adaptation of “Santori”, is now said to be top of the wish-list to play British math genius and codebreaker Alan Turing.

Deadline reports :

First-time screenwriter Graham Moore’s The Imitation Game was snapped up by Warner Bros in a 7-figure deal. I’ve learned that the studio outbid half a dozen indie companies because Leonardo Di Caprio ”has the inside track” to play the lead and was chasing the project. But so far no talent is attached. I hear Ron Howard is interested in directing.

Turning, as brilliant as he may have been, ultimately felt his life wasn’t worth living and committed suicide by way of a cyanide-laced apple.

I found some more infomation about Turing over on the Standford Encyclopedia of Philopshy :

Though a shy, boyish, man, he had a pivotal role in world history through his role in Second World War cryptology. Though the founder of the dominant technology of the twentieth century, he variously impressed, charmed or disturbed people with his unworldly innocence and his dislike of moral or intellectual compromise.

The paper “On Computable Numbers…” (Turing 1936–7) was his first and perhaps greatest triumph. It gave a definition of computation and an absolute limitation on what computation could achieve, which makes it the founding work of modern computer science. It led him to Princeton for more advanced work in logic and other branches of mathematics. He had the opportunity to remain in the United States, but chose to return to Britain in 1938, and was immediately recruited for the British communications war.

From 1939 to 1945 Turing was almost totally engaged in the mastery of the German enciphering machine, Enigma, and other cryptological investigations at now-famous Bletchley Park, the British government’s wartime communications headquarters. Turing made a unique logical contribution to the decryption of the Enigma and became the chief scientific figure, with a particular responsibility for reading the U-boat communications. As such he became a top-level figure in Anglo-American liaison, and also gained exposure to the most advanced electronic technology of the day.

Combining his ideas from mathematical logic, his experience in cryptology, and some practical electronic knowledge, his ambition, at the end of the war in Europe, was to create an electronic computer in the full modern sense. His plans, commissioned by the National Physical Laboratory, London, were overshadowed by the more powerfully supported American projects. Turing also laboured under the disadvantage that his wartime achievements remained totally secret. His ideas led the field in 1946, but this was little recognised. Frustrated in his work, he emerged as a powerful marathon runner, and almost qualified for the British team in the 1948 Olympic games.

Turing’s motivations were scientific rather than industrial or commercial, and he soon returned to the theoretical limitations of computation, this time focussing on the comparison of the power of computation and the power of the human brain. His contention was that the computer, when properly programmed, could rival the brain. It founded the ‘Artificial Intelligence’ program of coming decades.

In 1948 he moved to Manchester University, where he partly fulfilled the expectations placed upon him to plan software for the pioneer computer development there, but still remained a free-ranging thinker. It was here that his famous 1950 paper, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” (Turing 1950b) was written. In 1951 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his 1936 achievement, yet at the same time he was striking into entirely new territory with a mathematical theory of biological morphogenesis (Turing 1952).

This work was interrupted by Alan Turing’s arrest in February 1952 for his sexual affair with a young Manchester man, and he was obliged, to escape imprisonment, to undergo the injection of oestrogen intended to negate his sexual drive. He was disqualified from continuing secret cryptological work. His general libertarian attitude was enhanced rather than suppressed by the criminal trial, and his intellectual individuality also remained as lively as ever. While remaining formally a Reader in the Theory of Computing, he not only embarked on more ambitious applications of his biological theory, but advanced new ideas for fundamental physics.

For this reason his death, on 7 June 1954, at his home in Wilmslow, Cheshire, came as a general surprise. In hindsight it is obvious that Turing’s unique status in Anglo-American secret communication work meant that there were pressures on him of which his contemporaries were unaware; there was certainly another ‘security’ conflict with government in 1953 (Hodges 1983, p. 483). Some commentators, e.g. Dawson (1985), have argued that assassination should not be ruled out. But he had spoken of suicide, and his death, which was by cyanide poisoning, was most likely by his own hand, contrived so as to allow those who wished to do so to believe it a result of his penchant for chemistry experiments. The symbolism of its dramatic element — a partly eaten apple — has continued to haunt the intellectual Eden from which Alan Turing was expelled.

Sounds like a great film subject.

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