Father of the computer...

BBC News

The father of the modern computer is being honoured, 50 years after he died in tragic circumstances.

Alan Turing was one of the pioneers of computer science, and his work helped make the modern PC a reality. He was also one of the secret code breakers working at Bletchley Park during the Second World War.

He killed himself on 7 June 1954, by eating an apple he laced with cyanide; 50 years on, a blue plaque is to be erected outside his Cheshire home.

It was his idea of creating a machine to turn thought processes into binary numbers which was one of the key turning points in the history of the computer. His revolutionary idea was for a machine that would read a series of ones and zeros from a tape. These described the steps needed to solve a problem or task. Turing's experiments are credited with helping Britain win World War II by deciphering encrypted German communications, helping the Allies remain one step ahead.

The wartime German computer Enigma generated a constantly changing code which was impossible for people to decipher. But Turing's creation of Colossus - one of the first steps toward a digital computer - managed to crack Enigma's codes, giving the Allies the break they desperately needed in fighting Germany.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Freeze-dry burials

BBC News

The environmentally-conscientious could soon ensure they don't end up polluting the earth after they die, thanks to a company in Sweden.

Concerns about the environmental impact of embalming fluids or cremation have led Promessa Organic to come up with a chilling alternative.

Their method involves freeze-drying the corpse in liquid nitrogen.

Sound vibrations then shatter the brittle remains into a powder that can be "returned to the ecological cycle". Trees can be then planted on burial spots.

Biologist and head of Promessa Organic Susanne Wiigh-Maesak said she hoped to promote environmental and existential awareness.

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

Thelwell dies at 80

BBC News

One of Britain's most popular cartoonists, Norman Thelwell, has died at the age of 80 after a long illness.

He was best known for his strip featuring pig-tailed girl called Penelope and her pony Kipper.

The pair were frequently seen at gymkhanas - with Penelope hanging on for dear life as her fat, hairy horse charged about in manic fashion.

I have happy childhood memories of reading all his cartoon books. My sister rode ponies, which undoubtedly enabled me to appreciate the humour that much more...

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston