A new book about the origins of our digital universe is getting wide news coverage around the globe. Historian George Dyson’s book is called Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe. Check out a recent interview with Dyson on MSNBC.
Here’s how the book is described on Amazon.com: “’It is possible to invent a single machine which can be used to compute any computable sequence,’ twenty-four-year-old Alan Turing announced in 1936. In Turing’s Cathedral, George Dyson focuses on a small group of men and women, led by John von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, who built one of the first computers to realize Alan Turing’s vision of a Universal Machine. Their work would break the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things—and our universe would never be the same.’”
The Wall Street Journal’s review of the book says, “Though Turing lends his name to the title of George Dyson’s detailed and engaging Turing’s Cathedral, it is von Neumann who is the book’s central figure. Mr. Dyson focuses on the story of the men and women that von Neumann brought to the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, to create the ‘Turing machine’ that Mr. Dyson argues is the nucleus of today’s digital universe.”