2007-09-10

Mr thicko thicky thickpants

Well, I feel stupid. Worse than that, I generally feel very thick. Especially yesterday!

So, what happened yesterday? I went to Bletchley Park. What a brilliant place! Walking around what was for approximately 50 years one of the biggest secrets of WWII was really quite strange. The stuff these people did was simply amazing!

One guy managed to figure out the inner workings of a machine none of them had ever seen just by looking at two *almost* identical messages enciphered using the same machine configuration. The second message was 5 characters shorter than the first because the operator repeated the message but decided to abbreviate some of the words to save some time. This was all they needed. Not only was the functionality of the machine divined but what seems to be the world's first (semi) programmable computer was then designed + built to decipher messages received by wireless and then transcribed to punch holes. This thing has a optical reader that works at 5,000 chars per second.

The mathematics involved in working this sort of stuff out must have been quite brain numbing. I left feeling quite depressed with myself but it was still a great experience. Standing next to a Bombe machine (cracked enigma codes) was brilliant!

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