Monday 2 November 2020

Code Breakers

I recently finished reading a book that talked about modern day ciphers that are used by governments to keep their secrets secret. They are very complicated and use computer algorithms or whatever the terminology is for really, really, mind blowing, crazy complicated.


Codes and ciphers have been around for as long as important, paranoid people have been around. Mostly military secrets of course about battle plans or the timing of the attack which is something that generals want to keep from the enemy otherwise the attack would fail and the attacking general might just end up with his head on a spike. Codes can be life or death. Of course lovers have used codes to profess their love without the parents finding out that the perfect match they had in mind for their baby isn’t the match that baby wants. Conan Doyle wrote the “Adventure of the Dancing Men” in which Sherlock Holmes solves a mystery that involves codes.


During the second world war the German army developed the Enigma machine which mechanically changed codes daily and the code was impossible to break. Well, until the allies captured a machine and managed to break the secret of the Enigma machine which aided in shortening the war. There have been numerous books written about the machine and the people that aided in breaking the code, More than a few movies as well.


I had codes on the mind this past week and decided that I would send Hurricane and Tornado letters written in code. I chose to use the “Pigpen Code” which is one of the simplest of codes, using a few grids to substitute the grid shapes for letters. The idea being that I would send them each a short letter in code including the code key so that they can decode the letter. Sounds like fun and it would give them a challenge that they hadn’t had yet. Whether they will find it fun or not, I will have to wait on the Post Office to deliver the letters.


I do know that it isn’t easy to write a letter in code and it took an hour at least per letter. By the end I could remember the shape for “A” “E” and “L” and several others, but I had to try not to screw it up. Decoding will be tough enough if I did it right, but if I screwed up a letter then that word wouldn’t make any sense. It is possible that the boys will take one look and toss the code in the recycling bin. Breaking a code can’t be as much fun as a video game.


I guess I think that they might just get into it and write funny notes about their teachers and possibly get detentions for passing notes in class. Better to get a detention for a note that the teacher can’t read than have the teacher read that you think they stink and have a funny face. Maybe something even less flattering.


Well, I guess I will find out next week, but it was fun for a while picturing my grandsons as the world’s preeminent code breakers and knowing that I set them on their course.


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