Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Scientific American on A. Rey Pamatmat's Play On Alan Turing

IN A HUGE TRIUMPH for the Filipino American artistic and scientific community Scientific American is full of praise for a new play on Alan Turing, the Father of Modern Computer Science, entitled "Pure" written by A. Rey Pamatmat, whose blog is now proudly on my blog roll (and ought to be on yours!). Here's an unconscionably large excerpt of the review written by Melinda Wenner (read it all!)

Called the father of modern computer science, Turing is most famous for conceptualizing the Turing machine, an abstract machine or primitive computer that has the ability to reduce any mathematical process to a series of simple steps, and then perform it. As the play reveals, however, this is only one of a number of Turing's contributions to science. He also devised the Turing Test to explore the limits of artificial intelligence (a machine "passes" the Turing test when it fools a person into thinking, based on its conversational skills, that it is human); he helped England break German naval codes in World War II; and he modeled biological processes such as plant structures using mathematical formulas like the Fibonacci sequence. The play communicates his complex ideas through Turing's character as he tries to convince his colleagues of the importance of his work.

Pure is less about Turing the mathematician, however, than it is about Turing the man. Pamatmat first became enamored with Turing after reading David Bodanis's book Electric Universe: The Shocking True Story of Electricity,which suggests that Turing's passion for science was fueled by his homosexual love for a childhood friend, Chris, who died from tuberculosis when Turing was a teenager. Pure suggests that Turing may have turned his attention to artificial intelligence—a field that explores, at its core, the meaning of life—to celebrate Chris's life and let it live on in his work. In almost every scene, Turing has a brief conversation with the dead Chris; it later becomes clear that the entire play is set in the hazy moments before Turing's death, when he is hallucinating or perhaps communicating with Chris's spirit in the afterlife.

Congratulations Gat A. REY PAMATMAT ! You do us all PROUD! (So effin' coooool!)


UPDATES:
Great post from Abe N. Margallo (Red's Herring) on the Neri v. Senate Case: Is the Supreme Court clueless of the meaning of oversight?

New on the blogroll is Atty. Rodel E. Rodis (Telltale Signs) of the San Francisco City School Board.

8 comments:

Jego said...

Cool!! Well done.

(Im still waiting for Janna Levin's book, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines to appear on the shelves of Booksale. It's a novel about the parallel lives of Turing and Godel.)

DJB Rizalist said...

There's a beautiful biography of Kurt Godel (my idol!!!) available at Power Books for P99 hardbound pa. Hope I didn't get the last copy though. It contains a very eloquent summary of his proofs, as well as a discussion of his central concern, which Alan Turing only picked up on: Platonism versus logical positivism. Try and get a copy!

Jego said...

Mother of pearl, thanks for the tip, DJB.

blackshama said...

National Bookstore and its subsidiary Powerbooks have at times important works in Science and Philosophy that are priced ridiculously cheap. That's where I bought my Galileo's Dialogo for 250 pesos!

BTW Godel's incompleteness theorem is the argument why Richard Dawkins' scientism flops miserably!

Jego said...

It seems you got the last copy, DJB. Went to Powerbooks Greenbelt, and alas...

DJB Rizalist said...

Ben (Blackshama)

You know we'll really have to do a couple of posts on Richard Dawkins. Am sure you've seen his website and the wonderful debates ongoing there. Good thing you reminded of that. Kurt Godel does have a lot to say in this regard. Surprising how little he is understood and debated in the Philippines. Thanks!

Jego said...

Dick really is a competent scientist. It's just when he forays outside of his field of expertise does he sometimes say things that are incredibly, well, bonkers.

Anonymous said...

hope pamatpat will allow re-production of his play in pinas. in vernacular versions to educated the masses of the wonders of science.