Days to Centenary: 263
This is the first in a series of reviews of podcasts available for free through iTunes that relate to Alan Turing. It’s my intention to review all such podcasts on this site before the centenary arrives. At the moment that seems ambitious but reasonable, but it’s likely that there will be new material posted as the centenary approaches -though how much, and how quickly it will appear is anyone’s guess – so we’ll see. If it turns out that there’s so much that I can’t keep up, well, that would be a very agreeable reason to fail.
Title: Spotlight on Alan Turing
Running Time: 36:33
Format: Audio only
Sound Quality: Excellent
TechStuff is an enjoyable podcast series from HowStuffWorks.com with topics such as the history of Texas Instruments, Ada Lovelace, space elevators, and digital theft. In one episode designed especially for a NASA geek like me, the hosts review what each member of NASA Mission Control does during a mission (circa the space shuttle).
Like all TechStuff shows, the Turing episode is chatty, non-technical, and informal, and is clearly directed at the general listener of reasonable intelligence who has no prior knowledge of the topic at hand. The information in this episode is largely drawn from Andrew Hodges’ book Alan Turing: The Enigma, Hodges’ Alan Turing web site, and the Alan Turing entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
This podcast is a fun, informative general introduction to Alan Turing for anyone who has not yet encountered his life and legacy, which is why I have made it the subject of the first podcast review. It includes a brief overview of Turing’s life, work, and ideas, his involvment in athletics, his wartime work, his sexuality (including his attitude toward it and its ultimate consequences in the context of 1950s Britain), and his death.
The show contains only one error that I noticed, though this is quickly corrected: one host first states that Turing committed suicide by taking cyanide pills, but the other immediately substitutes an accurate account of the cyanide apple that killed him. If anyone listens to the show and notices any other factual issues, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post a note on this site.
I have no hesitation recommending this show to anyone who wants a pleasant, accurate introduction to the basics of Alan Turing’s life.