This video shows our interview with George Dyson about his new book, Turing’s Cathedral.
The book is a fascinating, meticulously researched account of the effort to build the first universal Turing machine, under the leadership of the mercurial John von Neumann, at the Institute for Advanced Study during the second world war. The resulting computer, called the MANIAC, was used to perform thermonuclear calculations that fueled the development of the atomic bomb, and, in spare moments, to perform mathematical calculations on principles of symbiogenesis and evolution.
The story has a personal side for George, who spent his early years at the Institute, where his father Freeman Dyson worked as a professor, and he remembers playing with some of the parts discarded by the engineers working on the computer project.
Technology Review contributing editor Simson Garfinkel reviewed Dyson’s book, and discussed the broader significance of Turing’s work, in the article Turing’s Enduring Importance, published in the last issue of the magazine (March/April 2012).
Delving further back into our archive, you can read a wonderful article by George’s father, A Failure of Intelligence, about his experiences developing analytical methods for the Royal Air force during the war.
Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything
Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.
These materials were meant to revolutionize the solar industry. Why hasn’t it happened?
Perovskites are promising, but real-world conditions have held them back.
Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid
Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.
A quick guide to the most important AI law you’ve never heard of
The European Union is planning new legislation aimed at curbing the worst harms associated with artificial intelligence.
Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review
Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.