FRIDAY SURPRISE: An old code is a good code.
Friday, November 23, 2012 Filed in: Friday Surprise!, Things I like, History
When I was in grade school, before the internet and the Kindle, there was the Scholastic Book Club. A couple of times a year the SBC would roll into the library, where students could peruse the offerings and order their choice of books. The orders would be delivered to the school a few weeks later.
One such fifth-grade order found me in possession of a book on codes and ciphers. This was fascinating to me, especially the part on code breaking. Finally a practical use for all that math I'd been studying! With that book I taught myself to break the most common historical codes, and even at one point challenged my classmates to produce a code that I couldn't crack. The efforts were almost comical - simple substitution ciphers, mostly - but every so often they'd throw me a curve. I managed to break every one, however.
Cryptography has remained an interest ever since. Though I haven't tried to invent - or crack - a code since I was a kid, I still follow stories of of code breaking with keen attention. If they're combined with historical lore, so much the better!
It should not come as a surprise, then, that I found this WIRED Magazine article so intriguing: a 250-year-old code from a secret society. It's as if that Scholastic Book on codes and ciphers morphed with another childhood reading favorite, the Mad Scientist's Club, and time-traveled to the screen of my iMac. I couldn't NOT read it!
-=[ Grant ]=-