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10 Unappreciated Geniuses

By Becky Ferreira Jun 13, 2013

5 of 11

Alan Turing

Get ready to have your heart broken, because Alan Turing's life story is among the most excruciating in history. Turing was a polymath genius: his talents included computer science (ahem, founding it), formal logic, mathematics, cryptography, and morphology. He was also a world-class marathon runner, because why not? He broke the infamous Nazi Enigma code during WWII, an achievement that many historians believe was the single greatest asset to the British in their victory over Germany. The visionary father of artificial intelligence, he devised the Turing machine and Turing test, and anticipated that human intelligence would one day be matched by machines.

He was also gay, which was illegal in Britain. Despite his heroism, he was arrested and forced by the British government to undergo chemical castration. Humiliated and resentful, he killed himself by eating a cyanide-laced apple in 1954, at the age of only 41. The only upside to his sad life story is how many admirers he's gained in recent decades, who have voiced their disgust over the disgraceful punishment this hero received at the hands of his own country His words have even more power given his life story: "We can only see a short way ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done."

Tags: science, slideshows, life, geniuses, nikola tesla, thomas edison

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About the Author
Becky Ferreira

Becky Ferreira is a writer, performer, and raptor based in New York.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.