Alan Turing inquest verdict is questionable

Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

As your report on the announcement that Alan Turing will be featured on the new £50 note says (16 July), an inquest concluded that his death was suicide. However, his death was never satisfactorily investigated at the time, and it is now likely that an open verdict would be given. While Turing certainly died of cyanide poisoning, and much is made of the half-eaten apple beside his bed, recent scholarly publications have highlighted the possibility of a fatal accident during chemical experiments involving cyanide. The apple was never tested for poison, and one should be careful about asserting his death to be suicide. Nevertheless, we welcome the highly deserved attention that the new banknote is bringing to Turing’s life and to his important work for the future of humanity.
Jonathan Bowen, Jack Copeland, Diane Proudfoot, Mark Sprevak and Robin Wilson
Co-authors of The Turing Guide

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