Happy New Year to all Significance site readers, and welcome back after our Christmas break. We shall be continuing with our usual mix of posts on news, non-news, oddments and trivia all with a statistical aspect to them. There is still time – two days left - to enter our Great Christmas Quiz – e-mail your answers to us by the closing date of 6th of January, which is midnight on Friday. If you are stuck on some of them don’t worry – you don’t have to get them all correct to be in with a chance of a prize.
2012 has been designated the Alan Turing Year, and June 23rd 2012 is the centenary of his birth. Turing, of course, is the mathematical giant who made a unique impact on computing, computer science, artificial intelligence, developmental biology and almost everything else including codebreaking and the outcome of the Second World War. His work in charge of the Engima- and other code-breaking teams at Bletchley Park is said to have shortened the war by up to two years (though that of course is more of a guess than a calculation). But it has justifiably said that there is no discipline in science that Turing has not had an impact upon.
Despite his wartime contribution he was shamefully treated in his lifetime. Amends are now being made. In February, the Royal Mail are including his image on a set of stamps. The UK’s new Technology and Innovation Centres are to be named Turing Centres in his honour.
The Channel 4 TV documentary on his life ‘Britain’s Greatest Codebreaker’ was broadcast just before Christmas; rumours of Leonard di Caprio playing him in a forthcoming Hollywood biopic are here, (which adds to the apparently ever-growing momentum of big-budget blockbusters with statistical themes and with big stars playing statisticians: we have had Brad Pitt in Moneyball and Kate Winslet in Contagion – stats is at last starting to appear glamorous. Hal Varian, Chief Economist of Google, who said ‘statistics will be the sexy profession of the next decade’ is being proven right with a vengeance.)
The Royal Society is to publish in 2012 Turing-themed issues of its Philosophical Transactions. There are lectures worldwide - at places where he worked such as Cambridge, Manchester and Bletchley Park of course, but if you are in Brazil, for example, see this; in Iceland see this; and in Germany this year-long exhibition ‘Eminent and enigmatic: 10 aspects of Alan Turing. In the US there is a Special Session with 14 hours of talks on the Life and Legacy of Alan Turing today and tomorrow at the 2012 Joint Mathematics Meeting in Boston; and, if that is too short notice there are similar events throughout the year and the nation. For a list of events worldwide, see this link.
And we shall be doing our bit in Significance as well. Watch this space, and the magazine; and happy statistical browsing through 2012.