In early celebration of the Turing centenary this week, Ars Technica's Matthew Lasar has a lovely list of seven of Alan Turing's habits of thought, including this one: Be Playful.
There was something about Turing that made his friends and family want to compose rhymes. His proud father openly admitted that he hadn't the vaguest idea what his son's mathematical inquiries were about, but it was all good anyway. "I don't know what the 'ell 'e meant / But that is what 'e said 'e meant," John wrote to Alan, who took delight in reading the couplet to friends.
His fellow students sang songs about him at the dinner table: "The maths brain lies often awake in his bed / Doing logs to ten places and trig in his head."
His gym class colleagues even sang his praises as a linesman: "Turing's fond of the football field / For geometric problems the touch-lines yield."
Turing's favorite physical activity, however, was running, especially the long-distance variety. "He would amaze his colleagues by running to scientific meetings," Hodges writes, "beating the travelers by public transport." He even came close to a shot at the 1948 Olympic Games, a bid cut short by an injury.
The highly productive habits of Alan Turing
(Image: Alan Turing in 1927, Sherborne school archives)
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