April 12, 1954, Wilmslow, Cheshire, England. Alan Turing, reeling from the mental and physical torture from endocrine disruptor treatment (aka chemical castration), languishes about the house, talking to Christopher II, when there’s a gentle knock at the door. He opens the door to see his former fiancee, Joan Clarke, whom he last saw when the team disbanded, leaving the secretive work of Hut 8 behind. Joan cradles in both arms a sealed metal box, smaller than a shoebox. Alan invites her in and both exchange pleasantries and swap catch-up stories. With the metal box resting on her lap, Joan searches her mind for the right words to describe the manner in which she became the custodian of the box, so she just passes it to Alan for him to open and peruse what’s inside.
“Alan, I was given this box by an odd, strange man two weeks ago, who claimed to know you very well. He instructed me to deliver this box to you on this particular day, today,” Joan said, adamantly.
Turing’s anxious, yet curious, mood stirred him to flip, turn, and shake the mysterious box. “Did this man give you his name?”
“He declared himself an admirer of yours without giving his name, even after I pressed him for a proper introduction. He said it’s a puzzle box and you’d know how to open it. Frightening but rather gentleman like, the man persuaded me to trust science and keep the box safe until it was time to give it to you.”
Not wanting the lurking press to notice her visit, she took her leave of Alan and departed. Alan pushed, pulled and slid his fingers in several organized patterns until an opening was revealed. Inside were letters, waxed sealed, and addressed to him from The Honorable Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace. Another envelope, thicker than the others, had the words “READ ME FIRST” inscribed on both sides. Turing marveled at the seal on the front of the envelope, how its appearance changed, depending on the viewing angle. An intriguing, optical artifact, Turing thought.
Turing set aside the Lovelace letters for now, directing his attention to opening the strange envelope sealed with a holographic strip of unknown material. He pulled out from the envelope a one-page letter, which was typeset in an unfamiliar font and printed on bonded paper equal in mystery to the typeface, and read it aloud.
Dear Dr. Turing,
My name is Morris Connelly, and I’m well acquainted with your work. I write to you on this day, April 12, 2015, from my home in Augustus, Oregon. I appeal to your scientific appreciation of how quantum mechanics may resolve the traditional problem of mind and matter. You see, Mr. Turing, I’ve visited your time period to meet Joan Clarke to deliver to her, for safe keeping, a puzzle box containing this letter and those from Ada Lovelace, which implies I’ve visited the Countess in my travels through spacetime.
If I may request another attempt to persuade you, Dr. Doctor Turing, I’ve left a small subroutine in Christopher II which you can access by rerunning the command you entered, immediately before Miss Joan arrived his morning, but using this alphanumeric sequence, instead, as the last parameter: HUT8 ADA. The Countess would love to meet you, Dr. Turing. Are you game?
Curious about the Ada Lovelace letters? One has been penned by my friend Alexandra Wolfe here.