Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Alan Turing (1912-1954) whose 1936 paper On Computable Numbers effectively founded computer science. Immediately recognised by his peers, his wider reputation has grown as our reliance on computers has grown. He was a leading figure at Bletchley Park in the Second World War, using his ideas for cracking enemy codes, work said to have shortened the war by two years and saved millions of lives. That vital work was still secret when Turing was convicted in 1952 for having a sexual relationship with another man for which he was given oestrogen for a year, or chemically castrated. Turing was to kill himself two years later. The immensity of his contribution to computing was recognised in the 1960s by the creation of the Turing Award, known as the Nobel of computer science, and he is to be the new face on the £50 note.
Tagged with “cryptography” (11)
Geeks versus government – the story of public key cryptography.
Take a very large prime number – one that is not divisible by anything other than itself. Then take another. Multiply them together. That is simple enough, and it gives you a very, very large “semi-prime” number. That is a number that is divisible only by two prime numbers. Now challenge someone else to take that semi-prime number, and figure out which two prime numbers were multiplied together to produce it. That, it turns out, is exceptionally hard. Some mathematics are a lot easier to perform in one direction than another. Public key cryptography works by exploiting this difference. And without it we would not have the internet as we know it. Tim Harford tells the story of public key cryptography – and the battle between the geeks who developed it, and the government which tried to control it.
The Zimmermann Telegram tells the story of how the US became embroiled in World War One. The threat from Germany came home to the United States 100 years ago this month, courtesy of an intercepted telegram sent by the German Foreign Secretary, Arthur Zimmermann. The tricky thing was, British intelligence didn’t want the US finding out they were reading what was coming over those cables. That made it rather difficult to warn the US, without giving the game away and thereby doing enormous diplomatic damage.
We hear from the grandsons of two key figures in this story; Nigel de Grey played his part in decrypting this all-important message in Room 40, and went on to be crucial to codebreaking during World War Two. The other, Thomas Hohler, was our man in Mexico at the time. Last summer their grandsons met up at Bletchley Park, reflecting on the significance of the telegram and their ancestors’ involvement in bringing it to light.
Also in this episode, you really never do know who you might meet at Bletchley Park. Eagle-eyed listeners may have spotted the TV historian, Dan Snow, waxing lyrical on social media recently, about the wonders of the Home of the Codebreakers. He came to visit and - like most people when they first see how brilliantly the story is now told - was moved and amazed. He stopped for a chat with Bletchley Park’s very own broadcast-friendly historian, Dr David Kenyon.
Throughout this year, we’ll bring you more never-heard-before interviews with veterans of Bletchley Park and its outstations, celebrating the ongoing Oral History project, as well as freshly researched stories about what the Codebreakers achieved and the difference it made to the outcome of the war, in the Bletchley Park Podcast’s exclusive It Happened Here series.
Pamela Rose, former Bletchley girl, is interviewed by Kirsty Young for Desert Island Discs.
Codes! Axis Cryptography in WWII — In this special episode co-hosted by TechStuff’s Jonathan Strickland, the focus is on the codes, cipher machines, and cryptologists of World War II. Tune in to learn more about the Enigma Machine, Alan Turing, Code Talkers and more.
Learning from Britain’s secret decryption centre, Bletchley Park - Ockham’s Razor - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Bletchley Park was Britain’s main decryption establishment during the Second World War, and the home of genius Alan Turing. Professor Mark Dodgson believes it has much to teach us about innovative organisations and the importance of diversity in skills.
The Voynich manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, who acquired it in 1912 from a Jesuit library. There are many theories as to what this book from the 1400s contains, but no one knows whether it’s a cypher text, a lost language or gibberish.
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the origins and history of codes. Guests include Simon Singh, Lisa Jardine and Fred Piper.
Cumberbatch stars in The Imitation Game, as the British mathematician who helped break German codes. "It’s a war thriller, it’s a love story and a tragic testament to a genius wronged," he says.
The NSA can already crack most cryptography; now it’s working on a quantum computer to bust the rest. Is it the end of for-your-eyes-only?
The world’s been up in arms because the US National Security Agency, the NSA, has been tapping and hacking and buying its way into private data all over the place. What if it didn’t have to tap and hack and buy? What if the NSA could build a quantum computer that could break any encryption out there and walk right in? The latest news out of the revelations from super-leaker Edward Snowden says it’s trying. Racing for a computer exponentially more powerful than anything now. This hour On Point: the NSA, quantum computing, and the future of cryptography.
– Tom Ashbrook
Steven Rich, database editor for the investigative at The Washington Post. (@dataeditor)
Seth Lloyd, professor of mechanical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Matthew Green, cryptographer and research professor at Johns Hopkins University. Author of the blog, “A Few Thoughts On Cryptographic Engineering.” (@MatthewDGreen)
From Tom’s Reading List
Washington Post: NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption — “The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields such as medicine as well as for the NSA’s code-breaking mission. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.”
Wired: The quest to make encryption accessible to the masses — “Kobeissi’s challenge, to make encrypted online messaging user-friendly, has long been a bugbear of the crypto community. A paper, written in 1999, demonstrated that the encryption program PGP completely baffled most users in a series of tests. The study, now fourteen years old, is still frequently cited today as a long-unanswered call to arms.”
A Few Thoughts On Cryptographic Engineering: How does the NSA break SSL?
— “You see, the NSA BULLRUN briefing sheet mentions that NSA has been breaking quite a few encryption technologies, some of which are more interesting than others. One of those technologies is particularly surprising to me, since I just can’t figure how NSA might be doing it. In this extremely long post I’m going to try to dig a bit deeper into the most important question facing the Internet today. Specifically: how the hell is NSA breaking SSL?”
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