Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Today, 21 April, marks the 50th anniversary since a group of military officers seized power in Greece and enforced a dictatorship, which was to rule the country for the next 7 years.

The coup d’etat took place in the early hours of that very day. I was only two years old then, so naturally I have no memory of the event. However, my father used to tell me how he heard the rolling sound made by one of the armoured tanks that were deployed in the night and wondered why on earth were there road works being carried out at 2 in the morning…

The next day, of course, the truth gradually became apparent: The radio was continuously broadcasting patriotic military themes, a tank was stationed at a road junction near our house and then the announcements came: that the army had taken over the governing of the country due to the unstable situation that had developed.

Let’s hope it never ever happens again. Even though an objective historian might – just might – be able to discern a certain degree of good brought about by the dictatorship, particularly in light of the instability in Greece’s political life at the time, such a form of rule can never be a healthy substitute for Democracy.


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Thumbs up to the film “The Imitation Game” and to Benedict Cumberbatch for giving such a convincing portrayal of Alan Turing.

The film is interesting, well-done and easy to understand by people who have little or no knowledge of Mathematics.

One of Turing’s achievements was the concept of a test, which could test a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. This has come to be known as the Turing Test. I was pleased to notice how subtly the film handled and paid homage to this concept in one of the last scenes. There, Turing is shown concluding his conversation with the detective and saying: “So, am I a man, a machine, or a war hero?” It was as though Turing was turning the test onto himself…

The detective replies “I cannot judge you, sir”. It goes without saying that Alan Turing’s final years and treatment by the British judicial system were tragic and disproportionate to his contributions to victory in World War II, Mathematics and modern Computing. He died at the age of 41 on 8 June 1954. Had he lived for longer, he might have borne witness to the grand advances in Computing during the 60s and later: Unix, the Mac, maybe even Windows. Surely, he would have made his mark there…

PS As a Mathematician I could not help noticing a small slip by Keira Knightley: In the scene when Turing and Joan Clarke are on the lawn solving a mathematical problem, Keira Knightley alludes to a theorem of Euler, pronouncing the “Eu” as in “yew”. It is actually pronounced “oy” as in “boy”.

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Today, 17 November, marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Athens Polytechnic Uprising of 1973.

At that time, Greece had been under the rule of a military junta for six years. On 14 November of that year, a protest began in the Polytechnic in central Athens where students and people voiced their opposition to the oppressive dictatorship. Unfortunately, the regime ended the protest in the early hours of the 17th by sending a tank, which crashed through the central gate at the grounds of the Polytechnic and injured those who clung to its railings.

The military junta fell in July of the following year after being unable to handle the crisis that had been brought about by the Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Forty years later, Greece is in another difficult, but very different, period in its modern history. It is quite likely that none of those brave men and women, who took part in the uprising of 1973, ever imagined the situation that this country would find itself in today: Poverty, economic recession, disheartening unemployment, abominable and pitiful taxation imposed by a state marked for its indifference, prevailing uncertainty and a breakdown in integral aspects of social balance. The country may no longer be under the rule of a dictatorship, but finds itself bearing the unjust burden of having to meet the unrealistic economic demands that have been placed on it, all in the name of preserving the status quo defined by the Euro.

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RMS Titanic (April 2, 1912).

 For the memory of those who perished;

and of those who survived and had to bear a guilt as heavy as the ship itself;

and for the value of perpetual vigilance, which this catastrophe bequeaths.

And look! One hundred years have passed and you are still alive…




(Photo credit: Wikipedia) 

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War and Peace

War and Peace - Πόλεμος και Ειρήνη

For the honour of the warriors, supporters and benefactors, Hellenes and philhellenes, of the Great War of Independence of 1821.

Για την τιμή των πολεμιστών, υποστηρικτών και ευεργετών, Ελλήνων και φιλελλήνων, του Μεγάλου Πολέμου της Ανεξαρτησίας του 1821.

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