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Turing Archive Director Questions Alan Turing Suicide Report 121

That Alan Turing committed suicide is widely accepted as fact. Now, an anonymous reader writes, "According to Professor Jack Copeland, director of the The Turing Archive for the History of Computing, 'The coroner [in Turing's case] didn't really investigate the evidence at all, he just jumped to the conclusion that he committed suicide. He seems to have been very biased from the statements in newspapers at the time.' Copeland further said that medical evidence suggested Turing died from inhaling cyanide rather than drinking or ingesting it."
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Turing Archive Director Questions Alan Turing Suicide Report

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  • by ggpauly ( 263626 ) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @04:26PM (#40431603) Homepage

    I was not aware that at the moment I was poisoned. I was certainly aware later when the symptoms appeared, although I did not immediately connect them to cyanide poisoning. I had a searing headache, muscle contractions, and lethargy, not the full range of symptoms which include convulsions, cardiac arrest, and asphyxiation perceived even when breathing. Coma will occur - this is I suppose the end result of almost any fatal poisoning. It is not clear to me when unconsciousness occurs in this process. it may be dose-dependant. It would be instructive to hear from those who have been rescued from the full throes of symptoms. The only person I personally know who rescued himself from a high dose of cyanide by immediate ingestion of antidote suffered only minor symptoms.

    Curiously, that person (who orally ingested a splash of concentrated cyanide in a plating plant) took an oral antidote that does not seem to be mentioned in the Wikipedia entry on cyanide poisoning. It may have been thiosulphate, I don't remember clearly off the top of my head. Keep your mouth closed in a plating plant. I was once obliged to prepare a sulphate solution for myself in a laboratory after accidently ingesting concentrated barium. Worst case of beer farts I ever had, no other symptoms. If you work with poisonous substances you should be prepared.

  • by xaxa ( 988988 ) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @06:59PM (#40432963)

    I once "accidentally ingested" a liquid in a factory. A moderately pressurised line blew, and squirted the liquid in a line over my face, including my mouth.

    Fortunately, this was a food factory, and the liquid was food-grade alcohol (used as a preservative, roughly vodka strength) mixed with natural flavouring (cherry, I think). The line manager was standing opposite me, and asked me to swallow it -- had I spit it out they would have had to stop production and clean the area.

    Hopefully places with actually dangerous chemicals have better equipment, but accidents do happen.

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