Alan Turing

by Andrew Pu from San Diego, California in United States

“A hero is someone who rises above his or her fears and limitations to achieve something extraordinary ... a hero embodies what we believe is best in ourselves” (quoted by Fleming). In his book Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society, Danny Fingeroth offers an explanation to why superheroes have mattered so much to our society in the past years, saying that these heroes show us what we believe are good traits and extraordinary accomplishments. He provides his own definition of what a hero is and why they are so inspirational to us. We can see that a hero is someone who overcomes hardships through determination and displays societal beliefs of what a hero should be. However, in recent years, our perception of who deserves to be a hero has become blurred. We see famous celebrities in a variety of places and begin to use them to replace heroes. Modern society places these celebrities on a high pedestal, but heroism is not based on a person’s ability to gain attention and money. A hero is someone who overcomes hardships to help others around him or her. This heroism can be seen in a fireman, saving children from a burning building, or a soldier fighting on the front lines for their country’s freedom. Heroes are everyday people who go above and beyond expectations to help others in need. Their actions show their intelligence and determination, no matter the cost. A hero is someone who uses his or her intelligence to improve the world and is determined to fight anyone or anything that might stand in their way.

134123Statue of Alan Turing in Bletchley Park MuseumDuane WesselsBecause he was able to use his intelligence to create influential ideas and win World War II through his determination, Alan Turing can be seen as a hero. Alan Turing was an English mathematician who was “born in London on 23 June 1912” (Guo). He made major contributions in the fields of math and computer technology. During World War II, he was invited to help the British government decode the Germans’ Enigma code. Along with many other gifted mathematicians and code breakers, Turing had to work for many years to find a way to consistently decode German messages. Through his determination to undergo tedious work and use his gifted mind, Turing was eventually able to create a new machine that was incredibly vital to cracking the code. Alan’s contribution drastically turned the tide of the war and helped the Allies defeat Germany. Alan also researched many other ideas in mathematics, morphogenesis, artificial intelligence, and cybernetics. His ideas and insight are still around in modern knowledge of these subjects. A hero must possess intelligence, as they have to be able to come up with a way to solve problems in the world. Additionally, they must also possess determination in order to push through any hardships they may face. Alan Turing displayed heroism when he used his intelligence to come up with innovative solutions to problems and when he used his determination to overcome obstacles that hindered his ability to learn new ideas and create complex machines that are greatly influential in the field of computer science today.

134127Alan Turing Passport Photo (Age 16)Wikimedia CommonsOne of Turing’s strongest traits was his ability to use his intelligence to solve many well-known problems and visualize countless inventions and machines, many of which have made a lasting impact on the world. This intelligence can be seen through his eagerness to come up with ideas and to create new things. In her biography on Alan Turing, Sara Turing, Alan’s mother, recalls how “Mrs. Darlington, wife of his preparatory school headmaster… remarked that his inventive brain was always busy. From the ‘inventions’ of his earlier days it can be seen that his brain was occupied constructively…” (Turing, Sara). Even as a child in preparatory school, Alan’s mind was already thinking about creating new inventions for the world. His creativity developed his mind into becoming a genius that invented the first computer and established a new field of study: computer science. This demonstrated his intelligence because, in his youth, he was already smart enough to invent new things, which carried over to his inventive thinking as an adult. His usage of his intelligence to create new things to help people displays his heroism. His intelligent thinking was crucial to the creation of computers and other similar technology. However, Alan was not only talented in the field of technology, but also in mathematics and science. After enrolling in King’s College in Cambridge in 1931, “Turing delved deeper into many different scientific and mathematical disciplines. After graduating in 1934, he continued his education by taking advanced courses in mathematics. His studies in mathematical propositions and algorithms were of special interest to Turing, and he began working on his own ideas in the disciplines” (“Alan Turing.”). This shows that even after college, Turing was still interested in learning. His eagerness to learn helped him gain exceptional knowledge in mathematics and science. After learning many ideas, Turing also contributed many of his own ideas to the field. His studies contributed to his vast intelligence, which allowed him to solve previously unsolved problems and to create new ideas and concepts that are still used today. With the knowledge and ideas that Turing had, even from his youth, Turing was able to share incredible knowledge and technology that helps many people today.

However, even with his intelligence, Alan Turing would have accomplished very little if it were not for his determination. Along his journey to become one of the greatest mathematicians of his time, Alan encountered many hardships, but he was able to resist these problems and find inspiration in even the darkest of times. After Turing’s close friend Christopher Morcom passed away, Alan told his mother, “Now that I am left to do it alone I must not let him down, but put as much energy into it, if not as much interest, as if he were still here. If I succeed I shall be more fit to enjoy his company than I am not” (Turing, Sara). After Morcom passed away, Alan believed that he had to work even harder than he had before, in honor of his childhood friend. Even when Turing was hit with hardships, like the death of his close friend, he still endured the pain and found inspiration from what seemed to be a low point in his life. Another example of when Turing’s determination is shown is in his eagerness to learn and his willingness to push through hard circumstances to get what he wants. Turing’s mother recalls that when his first semester at Sherborne School began, “...he disposed of his trunk, and set out armed with a map to bicycle to the school. When he hopefully suggested the possibility of bicycling, I insisted that he should not attempt the whole sixty miles in one day, thinking he might be ruthlessly made to attend early school next day” (Turing, Sara). This shows how determined Turing was to go to his school because he was even willing to ride his bike 60 miles to reach his goal. This shows Turing’s determination to get what he wants, whether it is education or his inventions, even when he has to endure tough challenges along the way. Turing’s determination allowed him to develop his intelligence and create new ideas for future mathematicians and computer scientists, in spite of the difficulties he faced.

134128Alan Turing Statue in Sackville ParkDavid DixonTuring’s intelligence and determination helped him make great contributions to the world of computer science and mathematics and make him the hero he is known as today. His intelligence allowed him to come up with groundbreaking ideas, and his determination allowed him to put these ideas into action, in the form of machines or solutions to problems, despite any hardships or difficulties. His ideas and inventions have dramatically changed the way that most people carry out any task in almost any profession. Turing created the first ideas of computers, which are vital to today’s society and help people do almost anything. His machines have allowed people to easily accomplish many difficult tasks and find the information they need for their endeavors. Our world today would not have been possible without the computers inspired by or created for many of the advancements in our modern day society. Furthermore, Turing’s ideas on mathematics and artificial intelligence have greatly helped researchers in those fields. I see Turing as a hero because today, I, along with the majority of our modern day society, rely heavily on technology that has been built upon the basis of computers. Turing’s perseverance to invent this new technology has not only improved our daily life but has also provided a new field of study and work. Our schools have adapted to teach students, like me, to also learn about technology and computer science, which would not have existed without Turing. Computer science and mathematics are some of the topics that I am most interested in, and without Turing, they would not be at the level that they are at now. Turing’s story and ideas have inspired me to learn about and work with the technology that he has created. I cannot even imagine a world without Turing’s contributions, as he has impacted our world so greatly, and I hope that one day I will be able to build upon his ideas and help improve the computers that he created.


Works Cited

"Alan Turing." Gale Student Resources in Context, Gale, 2018. Student Resources In Context, Accessed 2 Apr. 2019.

Fingeroth, Danny. Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society. New York and London: Continuum, 2005. ISBN: 0-8264-1540-7

Fleming, James R. “Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society.” Superman on the Couch: What Superheroes Really Tell Us about Ourselves and Our Society,

Turing, Sara. Alan M. Turing : Centenary Edition. Vol. Centenary ed, Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Guo, Ting. “Alan Turing: Artificial Intelligence as Human Self-Knowledge.” Anthropology Today, vol. 31, no. 6, Dec. 2015, pp. 3–7. EBSCOhost,

Page created on 5/21/2019 5:22:08 AM

Last edited 8/20/2019 9:04:01 PM

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Related Links

Alan Turing: The Enigma - An electronic compilation of information and sources on Alan Turing.