Skepchick Book Club: The Man Who Knew Too Much
Welcome back, fellow readers! This month we read The Man Who Knew Too Much: Alan Turing and the Invention of the Computer by David Leavitt. Join me in the thread to discuss this book and talk about Alan Turing. Also, below the jump is this month’s book-themed recipe (savory scones) and a cocktail recipe provided by Anne Sauer at Mad Art Lab. At the bottom of this post is details for next month’s book and meeting date.
If you’ve never been to a book club before, the rules are simple: Read the book, discuss the book, and keep the discussion related to the book. Or if you haven’t read the book but you’re fairly knowledgeable about the subject, feel free to participate.
I did not really know too much about Alan Turing other than a few facts here and there about the Turing Test and his punishment for being homosexual. This book talked about his background as a teenager and his life at various universities before he signed on to be a codebreaker for the British Government. It was there that he and his team cracked the Enigma code used by the Germans. The parts of the book that were about Alan Turing’s personal life were interesting to read about. However, the book was dominated by large sections explaining the basics of Turing Machines, programming, and math theory, which I found very dry and hard to read. However, I’m just a biologist, maybe if you’re into computer science or mathematics you enjoyed those sections more than I did? Also, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the possible diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome for Turing, which is not really discussed in the book.
This month’s themed recipe is: Sun-dried Tomato and Feta Cheese Scones. I chose it because scones are British and the ingredients are non-traditional, in the same way that Alan Turing was British and many of his behaviors were unexpected for the time. (I know it’s a reach, but there’s only so much I can do with food! Also, I definitely didn’t want to do an apple recipe.)
I adapted the recipe from this website, and I only changed a few things: I used diced sun-dried tomatoes in oil instead of roasted tomatoes (I was in a rush), chives instead of green onions, and I had to bake mine for an additional 10-15 minutes (until the outside turned slightly past golden brown). Also, the recipe recommends that you put the ball of dough on a floured surface, but I just went ahead and put it on the parchment paper on my baking sheet. Everyone loved it and at the end of the meeting I only had 1 left!
Photo source: Anne Sauer
Also this month we have a cocktail recipe called the Turing Test, because as Anne says, “You’d have to be a robot not to like it!”
1.5 oz English gin
1 oz honey syrup*
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Strip of lemon peel
Combine gin, honey syrup, lemon juice, and bitters in a cocktail shaker.
Add a generous amount of ice and shake vigorously until chilled.
Double strain into a cocktail glass.
Squeeze the lemon peel over the drink to express the oils, run it along the inside of the rim and then set in the drink to garnish.
*To make honey syrup, combine equal parts honey and hot water (not boiling–hot from the tap is fine) and stir until well-integrated.
Details for next month: The Skepchick Book Club will read The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston versus Houdini & the Battles of the American Wizard by Jim Steinmeyer, and we’ll meet on July 29th at 11 am.
So, start your Turing Machines, fire up your oven, get out your cocktail shaker, and then join us in the comments!