Alan Turing III

Lead: After describing the modern programmable computer and helping break the German Enigma codes, British mathematician Alan Turing turned his attention to artificial intelligence.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After the wartime emergency, Turing joined Britain’s National Physical Laboratory. There he helped finalize plans for an Automatic Computing Machine (ACE), which followed his 1937 theory advocating a device that could do many tasks depending on the information fed into it. Unfortunately, the National Lab was bogged down in bureaucratic inertia and, discouraged by the slow pace, Turing, in 1948, accepted a position at the University of Manchester.

Alan Turing II

Lead: A brilliant, well-respected, but at times controversial academic mathematician, Alan Turing helped crack the German Enigma codes in World War II.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After study at King’s College, Cambridge and a Princeton Ph.D., Turning had laid the theoretical foundation for the modern programmable computer. In a dazzling insight, almost a casual aside, in a footnote, he described in theory that one might construct an automatic machine that given the correct input or instructions, could do just about anything requiring computation. The device, later dubbed the Turing Machine, would read a series of ones and zeroes recorded on tape. These numbers would tell the machine what to do to solve a problem or perform a task. In the rather rigid world of computer theory at the time this was revolutionary. Up to that point most computers were dedicated, they were designed for a particular, usually narrow purpose. Turing was suggesting another approach. Later his idea would come to fruit as engineers would create a universal piece of computer hardware that could be told to do many different tasks by its software.

Alan Turing I

Lead: Brilliant and eccentric, English mathematician Alan Turing helped crack the Enigma Code during World War II, conceived of the modern programmable computer, and dreamed of artificial intelligence.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Alan Mathison Turing was born in London in 1912. His father was a functionary of the British
Civil Service in India. Turing’s parents considered life on the sub-continent unsuitable for their boys and left their raising to the care of relatives in England. Eventually, Alan was sent to boarding school, Shelbourne in Dorset, where a speech impediment and lack of proper training in Latin grammar made him the target of much cruel humor by the other boys. He was a loner and at Shelbourne first came to recognize and accept his homosexuality. He also showed an extraordinary capacity for mathematical reasoning and, perhaps because of his long periods of loneliness, began a lifelong fascination with the human mind and with what he considered its limitless capacity to create imagination, wonder, and beauty in the middle of an emotionally barren landscape.

Red Scare II

Lead:  After World War I, America found itself in the grip of anti-communist hysteria. The so-called Red Scare grew out of economic and social disruption caused by the war and its end. It went away when things got better.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In June 1919, the home of US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer was bombed by an assailant who blew himself up when he tripped on the front steps of the Palmer house. Neither Palmer nor his family were harmed. Bombs also had been mailed to the mayor of Seattle and to the Atlanta home of former US Senator Thomas W. Hardwicke of Georgia. Eighteen similar packages were intercepted. Counting these with the 16 that had been embargoed because of insufficient postage, the picture began to emerge of a coordinated attempt to kill state and federal officials who were deemed opposed to radical causes.

Read more →

Red Scare I

Lead: Immediately after World War I, the United States endured a period of sharp hostility toward immigrants, blacks, and Bolsheviks. Called the Red Scare, it was not the first time it had happened nor would it be the last time.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In May 1919, at a celebration for the wartime success of the victory loan program in Washington DC, for one reason or another, a man failed to rise for the playing of "The Star-Spangled Banner." When the anthem was over, a sailor boiling with rage over the spectator’s alleged un-patriotism, fired three shots into his back to the cheers of the on-looking crowd. Such incidents were not rare in the 18 months just following the end of World War I.  

Read more →

History of the Internet (Update) II

Lead: No longer in service to military research, the Internet with its world wide web of interconnected billions serves the needs of scholarly research but oh so much more.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: When the primitive Defense oriented networks began expanding and then speaking to one another, the core of the Internet as it is known in the second decade of the 21st century, was established. Academics still post their research for comment and critique and they still communicate on the internet, but it more likely to be about sports or their favorite wines or the latest and best independent film.

History of the Internet (Update) I

Lead: The internet began as a connection between academics with scholarly as well as military interests. It has become a world-wide universal connection for business, politics and social life.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The success of the Soviet space program sent waves of concern through the U.S. defense establishment and its university contractors where most military research was done. Since it is a given that scientific research is enormously enhanced by the free exchange of ideas, failures, concepts and successes between scholars, the U.S. government concluded that some means of fast intercommunication could not but advance work of the U.S. military By the late 1960s a primitive network connecting major universities doing research for the U.S. Defense Department was in place.

American Revolution: Stamp Act Repeal III

Lead: In the 1700s the United States broke from England. No colony in history had done that before. This series examines America’s Revolution.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Horace Walpole, son of Britain’s First Minister, Robert Walpole, a man of letters and member of Parliament from the rotten borough of Castle Rising, wrote, in his memoirs of the reign of
King George III, that repeal of the Stamp Act before any serious attempt at enforcement and collection, stuck in the throats of a resentful and reluctant Parliamentary majority. “When do princes bend,” he opined, “but after a defeat?” His was a perceptive observation. Parliament did not like it, but First Minister Lord Rockingham who took over after the author of the Stamp Act, George Grenville, was removed by the King, faced a situation in America tantamount to open revolt and demands from a domestic constituency horrified by a severe downturn in commerce caused by a drop in American consumption of British goods. England’s merchants were up in arms and Rockingham recognized that he had a political alliance that could divert the debate from constitutional issues of Parliamentary and colonial rights, and push it the direction of practical economic survival. He used the near irresistible political pressure from the influential business community to secure repeal.