This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Nuts and Bolts: A Puzzle Inside An Enigma. Code words.

The wonderful BBC Radio Programme The Infinite Monkey Cage came from Britain's GCHQ recently. (GCHQ is the place where the people involved with codes and intercepting hostile transmissions and all that sort of thing hang out.)

Someone on the programme was talking about breaking codes, and he mentioned that a code is only as secure as its password. He gave as an example the Enigma machine, a device used by Germany during World War II. The Enigma code was eventually cracked by the Allies, but this achievement was, obviously, kept secret for as long as possible.

In any case, even once you knew how the thing worked, you still had to know what password was being used before you could read messages.

Progress in this area was swift after the code-crackers realised that the people sending the messages were all unhappily conscripted men aged about nineteen.

The code words proved to fall into three groups:

a) the same as yesterday's code word (this was down to simple laziness)
b) the name of a girl
c) swear words

It leaves me thinking that Artificial Intelligence will never be quite the same as Human Intelligence.

Though I'm not saying that in some ways it won't be rather better.

Word To Use Today: a code word. I'm pretty sure yours will be the same as yesterday's, too! 

The word code comes from the Latin word cōdex, which means book.

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