Cryptography

Uncategorized

I’m a big fan of cryptography. I’m not sure why, as I tend to glaze over quickly in the math and engineering parts of the discussion. BoingBoing has a nod today to the news that Colossus, the first electronic computer used at Bletchley Park during WWII, has been reconstructed and is going to be pitted against a virtualized Colossus (running on an off-the-shelf PC) to decode radio transmissions using a Lorenz SZ42 machine (the sort used by the German high command). Tony Sale’s Codes and Ciphers site has links and instructions if you’d like to play along at home with the transmissions going out this weekend. While it won’t be the same as hanging out in an attic somewhere, trying to find the right frequency on my tiny radio so that I can hear the transmission, it’s sort of close. Sort of.

Makes me want to go listen to The Conet Project recordings. Mmmm, scratchy numbers station transmissions. While reading selections from Cryptonomicon, of course.

Johannes Trithemius’ most famous work is Steganographia, written at the very end of the 15th century. I don’t recall exactly when it was revealed that the book, ostensibly about black magic, was actually written in code (after Dee’s time, I think?). The first two sections turned out to be an early treastise on cryptography and steganography. I wonder if we just haven’t figured out the key to the Codex Seraphinianus yet.