Alan Turing
(1912 - 1954)

"When I was a child, numbers were my friends. You know how it is; you know how children have their own secret make-believe friends; friends who can always be trusted – dolls or teddy-bears or some old piece of blanket they've kept and treasured since they were babies. My friends were numbers. They were so wonderfully reliable; they never broke their own rules. And then, when I was about nine or ten, somebody gave me a book for Christmas: 'Natural Wonders Every Child Should Know'. I thought it was the most exciting book I'd ever read. It was, I suppose, looking back, a sort of gentle introduction to the facts of life; there was a lot about chickens and eggs, I remember. But what the writer of that book managed to convey was the idea that life – all life – is really a huge all-embracing enterprise of science. There was no nonsense about God or divine creation. It was all science: chemicals, plants, animals, humans. "The body is a machine," he said. How exciting it was to read that! What an audacious, challenging – rather naughty – idea that was. He made life seem like a thrilling experiment. And I longed to take part in that experiment." 

Alan Turing, in Breaking the Code

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