Alan Turing – father of computer science
by Joyce Hopewell
In 1999, Time Magazine hailed Alan Turing as one of the hundred most important people of the 20th century for the part he played in creating the modern computer and making it a part of everyday life throughout the world. They said, “…everyone who taps at a keyboard, opens a spreadsheet or a word-processing program is working on an incarnation of a Turing machine”.
Turing is widely acknowledged to be the father of computer science. During the Second World War he was a major contributor in the top secret work carried out at Bletchley Park. Here, he was involved in breaking ciphers, developing the bombe - a cryptanalytic machine - which was able to decode complex messages sent by the German Enigma machine. It is said that his contribution, together with the work of countless others working at Bletchley Park, saved many lives and shortened the length of the war by 2 years.
Alan Mathison Turing was born in London on 23rd June 1912 at 02.15 (RRA). His father was a member of the Indian Civil Service, and his ex-pat parents returned to England for his birth.
|Chart of Alan Turing|
Turing’s chart has a clear, angular appearance with 2 separate aspect patterns moving in different directions. Visually, his chart has a precise, mechanical appearance, reminiscent of a metronome ticking in strict time. In the Huber Method, the overall chart image can sometimes convey the essence of the person, and in this case it does; Turing’s life was dedicated to the precision of mathematics, cryptanalysis and computer science.
His chart shows a lack of activity-oriented red aspects with only one - the opposition,
where energy is held in tension - but this lack is compensated for by the stellium of planets on 2nd cusp, acting as a powerful generator and springboard for his intellectual genius.
Turing’s chart has an emphasised “I” side, with a total of 7 planets in the AC hemisphere. A person with such a configuration would tend to be something of a loner, or be very selective about who they allowed into their life as a trusted friend. Yet Turing has Jupiter in Sagittarius close to the DC and in 7th house, which could be interpreted as indicative of optimistic, outgoing sociable behaviour. But look again. Turing’s Jupiter is in a linear quincunx relationship with Mercury, itself part of that powerful stellium. Whilst Mercury endows a speedy fact-finding ability, when working in tandem with Jupiter there is an endless testing out of ideas and a gathering of experiences against which such ideas sink or swim. Linked as Mercury and Jupiter are by a quincunx, itself indicative of a big step in learning, it more likely that his Jupiter in 7th would have been engaged in the discussion and testing out of ideas with others of like mind, rather than as a vehicle for outgoing sociability.
A quick check on the position of his North Node in 11th opposite the South Node in 5th conjunct Moon would support this hypothesis. The South Node is not shown in the Huber Method as it points to the past, to no growth and stagnation (Dragon’s Tail) as opposed to the North Node which leads the way forward (Dragon’s Head). Rather than moving from South to North Node to gain a balance between both ends of the nodal axis, some people live exclusively in the North Node. An 11th house North Node speaks of intellectual, like-minded and carefully selected friends who share ideas, ideals and interests which are far removed from the more earthy, tactile, rough and tumble of 5th house relationships. The Hubers say of the 11th house, “…it is a fundamental frame of reference…for doctrines and creeds;…for in 11th house conditions rather than processes hold sway.” It is likely that Turing, with his keen intellect and mathematical mind, would have sought contacts of a similar sharp mindset in 11th rather than risk boredom and the challenge of physical contact in the more mundane 5th.
Yet matters of the 5th house, where his intercepted Moon is conjunct the South Node, did play a critical part in his life as he was homosexual at a time when this was illegal in Britain. He was briefly engaged to a Bletchley Park co-worker and fellow mathematician in 1941, when his Age Point was conjunct his Moon and South Node. Although he confessed his homosexuality to his fiancée, who was reportedly unconcerned, Turing decided that he couldn’t go through with the marriage and the engagement was terminated. It would seem that he had, in his brief engagement to a fellow (11th house) mathematician, been seeking to connect with 5th house matters and energies and bring about a balance on the 5/11 axis of relationships
Turning to the aspect patterns which dominate his uncluttered and metronome-like chart, we can see that there are just two: a Search Figure and an Ambivalence figure. Both are interesting their own way, but it is the Search Figure which expresses much of the main plot of Turing’s life.
|Diagram: Search Figure|
Search figures are triangular and thus-shaped, their motivation is mutable. The direction and scope of the search is fluid, the person being able to change direction and follow the leads that arise during the search process. There is no fixity or rigidity involved; the individual is motivated to seek and search and will go where the journey takes them.
Composed of blue and green aspects, the Search figure - and the person who has one - is bound up in thoughts, ideas and an ongoing search which often has an “if only…” quality about it, as in “If only I can find the answers to [such and such] I will be happy and satisfied”. Of course, the searching doesn’t end and the quest itself is the spur and the drive. The Hubers say that people with this figure are “suited to working on long-term projects and can wait patiently until success comes of its own accord. They work continuously with the same dedication as at the start and know that everything takes time.”
Experience suggests that the planet at the blue/green corner of this figure is the one which offers a possible outlet and expression for what is learned during the search. In Turing’s chart, the planets pinning the corners of the Search figure are his Sun (part of the powerful stellium), Saturn and Uranus. Here we have a stunning combination of creative mental energies in Sun and Uranus, together with the potential for grounding and manifesting these via Saturn at the blue/green corner. What is more, practical Saturn is placed, albeit weakly by sign, in equally practical Taurus, and Uranus is comfortably on home ground in Aquarius.
Bruno Huber called Uranus “The World Improver” , the planet which represents creative intelligence, generating original ideas and looking for “systematic ways of solving life’s problems”. Uranus is the highest planet in Turing’s chart, and is very strongly placed on the MC. It came as no surprise to see its position in Turing’s chart, given his contribution to the development of the bombe code-breaking machine and his role in the creation of the modern computer. Bruno Huber continues, “Uranus seeks knowledge for its own sake. It is the spirit of investigation that looks for suitable solutions to existing problems. Brainwaves happen [on the mental level]. Uranus breaks into the consciousness in the form of ideas that did not exist before, but that can change the entire situation at one stroke…..the creative intelligence can usually break through in times of need…..that is why Uranus finds its greatest satisfaction in righting wrongs and improving conditions.” This suggests that strategic problem solving of all kinds was life blood to Turing, from 11th house games of chess with friends and colleagues, to 12th house back room activities when he was head of Hut 8 at Bletchley Park, devising techniques for breaking German ciphers during World War 2. International Chess Master Hugh Alexander, who worked alongside Turing at Bletchley Park wrote, “…if anyone was indispensable to Hut 8 it was Turing. The pioneer’s work always tends to be forgotten when experience and routine later make everything seem easy…”
The inclusion of Turing’s Sun in this Search figure is also significant. The Sun is representative of the individual’s sense of self gained through the mind, the use of the will, the creative mental processes and the decisions made. Empowered in the stellium by Pluto, softened by Venus and egged on by Mercury, his Sun brings their additional input to the searching, questing and problem solving which drives this figure. All four planets in this stellium are either cuspal or strongly placed in 2nd; his most important possession was his mind.
Turing’s Life Clock shows his Age Point (AP) conjunct this stellium at age 6, when he started school. His headmistress spotted his talent and signs of genius early on, as did many subsequent teachers.
The Ambivalence figure is perhaps more of a sub plot in his chart and what is known of his life. Although relationships are highlighted in his chart through the nodal axis, his Moon – his emotional sense of self – is intercepted in 5th house which suggests difficulties in expression and recognition of emotional needs. Indeed, as homosexuality was illegal at that time to come out about this would have attracted disapproval at the very least.
The red/blue Ambivalence figure is also triangular, having a mutable mode of action and the ability to swap between contrasting modes of activity when in the red aspect, and passivity when in the blue aspects. These blue aspects provide the opportunity to relax, with the planet at the apex acting as an escape point where the person can use and express its qualities. In Turing’s chart this planet is Mars in Leo, positioned on the Balance Point (BP) of the 4th. A BP planet can be expressed easily and with apparently little effort. There is not much information about Turing’s off duty activities, but I was fascinated to read that he was physically very active, sometimes to the point of fanaticism. He was a keen cyclist, and while working at Bletchley Park, was a talented long-distance runner, sometimes running the 40 miles to London when called there for high level meetings. He is also reputed to have been capable of world-class marathon running.
Although Turing was awarded the OBE in 1945 for his wartime work and service, his work and what went on at Bletchley Park was kept secret for many more years. Churchill called the Bletchley Park staff “The goose that laid the golden eggs but never cackled”. But since the opening of Bletchley Park to the public in 1993, the work of Turing and the other 8,500 people who worked there in total secrecy has become widely known.
In the post-war years, whilst his Age Point was opposite Saturn, Turing worked on the design of the Automatic Computing Engine. Again using his 12th house Saturn, he helped to bring into being yet another brainchild of the Search figure. In 1949, with AP conjunct Jupiter, he became Deputy Director of the computing laboratory at the University of Manchester, where he worked on software for one of the earliest stored-program computers, the Manchester Mark 1, and also on artificial intelligence. During this period, as his AP moved through Sagittarius, he developed an experiment known as the Turing test, which sought to define a standard by which a machine might be called “intelligent”. He also started to devise, with a colleague, a chess program for a computer.
In 1952, with his AP on the Low Point (LP) of 7th house, he began working on mathematical biology, specifically on morphogenesis - the study of the biological process which cause an organism to develop its shape. The LP is often a time of inner reflection; in the 7th the LP is a time when the current lifestyle is revised and we question whether we have, to date, lived our lives fully. It can also be a time of partnership crisis.
An encounter in Manchester at this time between Turing and a man called Arnold Murray, and their subsequent relationship, led to a major crisis in Turing’s life as both men were charged with and convicted of gross indecency. Given the choice between going to prison or being on probation and undergoing hormonal treatment to reduce his libido, Turing chose the latter. He was chemically castrated by oestrogen hormone injections, his security clearance was removed and he was barred from continuing his cryptography consultancy with GCHQ.
With his AP moving through the mutable zone of the 7th house, from LP to the 8th cusp, Turing continued his work on morphogenesis. When his AP was exactly opposite Pluto, in the 28th degree of Sagittarius and within seconds of the 8th cusp, he committed suicide by cyanide poisoning on 7th June 1954. A partly-eaten apple was found beside him, and although it was never tested for cyanide, it is thought that this was the means by which he delivered himself of this fatal dose.
Rudhyar’s  keynote words for the 28th degree of Sagittarius offer an interestingly appropriate epitaph which nods very strongly towards Turing’s Uranus on the MC: “The enduring elements in a society which reveal its ability to significantly link the genius of its individuals to the everyday needs of the collectivity”. (my italics)
In 2009, following a successful petition campaign urging the British government to posthumously apologise to Turing for prosecuting him as a homosexual, Prime Minister Gordon Brown released an apology, “…on behalf of all those who live freely thanks to Alan’s work I am very proud to say: we’re sorry, you deserved so much better”. Yes, he did.
The full, signed apology is on display at Bletchley Park, in the section devoted to honouring the genius of Alan Turing.
 Moon Node Astrology by Bruno and Louise Huber, pub. HopeWell 2005
 Aspect Pattern Astrology by Bruno, Louise and Michael A. Huber, pub. HopeWell 2005
 The Planets and their Psychological Meaning by Bruno and Louise Huber, pub. HopeWell 2006
 An Astrological Mandala by Dane Rudhyar, pub.Vintage Books 1974
Aspect Patterns in Colour by Joyce Hopewell, pub. HopeWell 2010
LifeClock by Bruno and Louise Huber, pub. HopeWell 2006