Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Fun With Cryptology: Jewelry, Art & Awesome Facts

by Megan S.

All of Ralphie's hard work was for a stinkin' ad!  Drink more Ovaltine, indeed.
Cryptology.  It's the study of codes and the art of writing them.  People have been using ciphers to pass clandestine messages for millennia.  One of the most famous and simple codes is named after Julius Caesar.  The emperor used the technique to encode military commands in order to keep his plans safe from leaks.

I was obsessed with writing ciphers when I was ten.  Well, for about two weeks anyway.  I'd spend ages creating one (at least a whopping 15 minutes,) write a sentence or two using the code, and then hand it off to a classmate named Stephen CONVINCED he wouldn't be able to crack it that time.  The next morning, he'd smugly hand me back my decoded challenge and I'd start thinking of my next one.  The last time we played, I stumped Stephen.  That particular code still makes me smile.

Cryptology isn't just for kids and spies.  You'll find a collection of art, jewelry, brain teasers, and neat facts after the jump!

Caesar Cipher Decoder Ring - It's modeled after Ralphie's Little Orphan Annie secret decoder ring from A Christmas Story!

Sharing the Burden: Women in Cryptology in World War II - A paper on the role of women cryptographers in World War II published by the National Security Agency's Center for Cryptologic History.  The link will download a pdf file from the NSA website.

Custom Secret Decoder Cards -  The paperwork is beautiful!

Secret Language - All you need to know to create your own cipher and helpful hints when decoding secret codes from San Francisco's Exploratorium.

Secret Decoder Ring - Keep your decoder hand-y.  (Ugh.  That was a horrible pun.)

Cryptography Brain Teasers - Hundreds of puzzles to waste away the hours.

Number stations - The radio stations mentioned in shows like Fringe and Covert Affairs that broadcast strings of encoded messages all over the world are REAL!
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