I had an extremely active year 2012 in terms of popular science. To a large extent that is because it was Alan Turing’s centenary.
Here’s a summary of what I did:
- The first event was in April 2012 as part of a yearly Danish science festival (forsk.dk). I give a talk on representations of Alan Turing in contemporary art, Alan Turing i samtidskunst, at the art school ignatius.dk in Copenhagen. Most of the material was based on a previous lecture from 2011 Alan Turing: Man as Machine lecture at Malmö Konsthall in connection with an exhibition of Danish artist Henrik Olesen.
- In June, I was honoured to be invited by the good people in Bergen to give the opening lecture on occasion of Turing’s birthday in a lecture series arranged by Bergen University for the Turing centenary. Let us Calculate! – From Leibniz to Turing. The nice Turing film “Codebreaker” (turingfilm.com) was shown right before my talk, so I focussed on Alan Turing’s contribution to our intellectual history instead of the biographical material and Bletchley park. Other speakers in the series were Christos Papadimitriou, Kenneth W. Regan, and Luc Steels; illustrious company indeed!
- The Bergen people managed to put a full-page article about Turing in the local paper, and I quickly stole their best idea: explain the idea behind the halting problem in terms of phone applications. This led to a quick blog entry: The Freeze App does not Exist.
- A few days later, Danish radio broadcast a long montage (about 40 min) about Alan Turing based on long interviews with me and with Hans Hüttel (Aalborg University). Archived at Radio 24syv. I thought this came out really well.
- Lund has a long tradition of weekly public science lectures, the “Technology and Science Circle”. I’m in the steering committee and we agreed to devote the fall to Turing, “Datorernas Darwin: Alan Turing 100 år”. This led to 10 public lectures with a total of 30 appearances (physics, CS, systems biology, gender studies, etc.). Pretty cool. I gave one myself, about the algorithmic lens on information curation (Pagerank, Filterbubble).
- In December, Swedish radio broadcast Alan Turing ville bygga en hjärna. Another montage based on an interview with me. This, too, came out well. (Though I find my Swedish toe-curling.) Both radio appearances were very pleasant experiences and were produced by excellent, well-prepared journalists. Swedish Public Radio P1, Vetandes Värld. The interview itself was conducted in early Fall.
- Just before year’s end, Danish science webzine videnskab.dk published my reviews of three books related to Turing.
At the very least, there were welcome incentives to read up on Turing. Collective thanks to everybody who turned up, tuned in, emailed, commented, or staid for a chat or beer afterwards.
What’s next? Leibniz year 2016?