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Queen Elizabeth Sets a Code-Breaking Challenge 132

Posted by samzenpus
from the we-like-a-challenge dept.
mikejuk writes "Queen Elizabeth II has made her first ever visit to Bletchley Park, the home of the UK's World War II code-breaking efforts and now a museum. To mark the occasion, the Queen has issued a code cracking challenge of her own — 'the Agent X Code Book Challenge' — aimed at getting children interested in cryptography. Perhaps a royal programming or general technology challenge is next."

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Queen Elizabeth Sets a Code-Breaking Challenge

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  • Recruiting? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Monday July 18, 2011 @02:31AM (#36797424)
    Everyone knows that the Royal Family has close links to Torchwood. Perhaps this is a recruitment drive. (count me out, I'll be buggered if I work with Captain Jack)
  • All I got was:

    "Hellooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo"

    when I translated the answer.
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Monday July 18, 2011 @02:53AM (#36797496)

    Bletchley Park appears to be safe for now. Here are some previous Slashdot headlines:

    2011
    Queen Elizabeth Sets a Code-Breaking Challenge
    Tunny Code-Breaker Rebuilt At Bletchley Park
    Campaign Saves Unique Turing Archive
    EDSAC Computer To Be Rebuilt

    2010
    Fight Begins To Secure Turing Papers For Bletchley Park Museum
    'Retro Programming' Teaches Using 1980s Machines
    UK Gov't Spending Details Now Online

    2009
    Bletchley Park WWII Staff Finally Recognized
    No Museum Status For UK Home of Enigma Machine
    Old Computers Resurrected As Instruments At Bletchley Park

    2008
    Cash Lifeline For Bletchley Park
    PGP Leads Corporate Efforts To Save Bletchley Park
    Bletchley Park Faces Financial Rescue
    Bletchley Park Facing Financial Ruin

    While I realize one cannot have every building associated with victory in WWII saved, it is nice to see recognition of the intellectual side of it. Are there more dedicated sites of this kind around the world?

    • by Nursie (632944) on Monday July 18, 2011 @03:34AM (#36797614)

      It is good to hear isn't it?

      Finally the old place is getting some attention. I've been there a couple of times now. it's a great old place, it was important for the war, and it's something of a spiritual home for the computer.

      Colossus may not have been the very first (there was a german machine?) and it was certainly kept secret for far too long after the war, but some lasting good leaked out of it through Turing's papers. It was one of a series of false starts that slowly, eventually led us here.

      Of course the pioneer, the early bright light of our field was hounded to death for being gay, a man who had saved many lives and sped the end of the war. If there is one thing that should tell us homophobia is *bad* this is it.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        (there was a german machine?)

        The Zuse Z1. Not that it was put to anything like the use Colossus was...

      • Of course the pioneer, the early bright light of our field was hounded to death for being gay, a man who had saved many lives and sped the end of the war. If there is one thing that should tell us homophobia is *bad* this is it.

        Indeed, he commited suicide with Cyanide, besides his body was a half eaten apple which it is speculated was how turing took the Cyanide although the apple itself was never tested.

        It is rumoured that the original Apple Computers logo, a rainbow colored Apple with a bite taken out o

        • Unlikely. The original Apple logo was an elaborate drawing of Newton sitting under an apple tree. That evolved into just the apple symbol (white, then rainbow-colored, then white again).

          • by rbrausse (1319883)

            The original Apple logo was an elaborate drawing of Newton sitting under an apple tree

            for us lazy slashdotters: click here for the logo [wikimedia.org]

          • by Dogtanian (588974)

            Unlikely. The original Apple logo was an elaborate drawing of Newton sitting under an apple tree. That evolved into just the apple symbol (white, then rainbow-colored, then white again).

            Besides which, rainbow-coloured stripes were a very common design motif in the 1970s. Even Activision (who were founded at the end of the decade) had rainbow stripes in the original version of their logo! The gay rights movement may have felt it somewhat appropriate, but they weren't the only people using it at the time, and I doubt that was the primary connotation when Apple first chose the rainbow logo.

            It's like how people associate chucka-wucka guitar basslines with porn- because porn first rose to pro

        • by deains (1726012)
          I think Jobs refuted that rumour a while back. Would be pretty clever/awesome if it was actually true though.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        .... it was certainly kept secret for far too long after the war ...

        One of the things that I lerned from the Bletchley Park museum that I didn't already know, was the fact that they continued selling enigma derived machines to various governments around the world until the 70s - they have some examples in the collection. The fact that GCHQ could break them was probably considered worth keeping secret.

    • Are there more dedicated sites of this kind around the world?

      Yes there are, but in those countries, if they show them to you, they have to kill you.

  • The UK has long lost it White Russian and ~ww2/cold war mass draft like testing generation to find needed languages.
    So the GCHQ will reach out to schools with "ambassadors" to make maths, crypto ect. seem fun and help with languages of long term national interest like Russian and Arabic.
    GCHQ staff teach 'future spies' in schools (March 2011) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-12675368 [bbc.co.uk]
    A challenge just builds on a basic need for finding the next generation of gifted young people. Getting them young also
  • Apparently the operations at Bletchley were so secret that during the war Princess Elizabeth (as she then was) didn't even know they existed.

    She was probably considered a security risk due to all those German relatives.

    • Much like the President of the US. At most he'll be around only for 8 years as the head of the Armed Forces... Can't afford to tell him everything, so he's just kept safe unless that's not on the agenda...

      Additionally, other than Zaphod-Beeblebroxism I can't understand why the US places so much importance on their president... They can't even make laws -- Wouldn't it be better if the pres actually served in an armed force prior to election as chief commander?

      At least royalty has "royal blood", and co

      • Additionally, other than Zaphod-Beeblebroxism I can't understand why the US places so much importance on their president... They can't even make laws -- Wouldn't it be better if the pres actually served in an armed force prior to election as chief commander?

        No, that's not likely to lead to any sort of elitism or discrimination.....

        • by BitZtream (692029)

          No, that's not likely to lead to any sort of elitism or discrimination.....

          Yea, god for bid we run that slight risk rather than have someone in office that actually know how the miltary works.

          WTF kind of illogical thought pattern gets you to the point that you think the guy in charge of an organization should be the guy who knows absolutely nothing at all about it?

          Its should be a legal requirement to have served in the armed forces in order to be president.

          • Maybe we should have the Commander in Chief be a civilian position, as the founders intended? Maybe we should read more than one Heinlein novel? Maybe we should learn to spell before posting /. comments?
          • by TheLink (130905)
            No, I don't really see much benefit from that.

            I propose that a referendum is mandatory before a country starts any "offensive military action" (genuine defence is different).

            If the referendum does not pass (say 66% of _total_ eligible_ voters must vote for war), all the political leaders that proposed the military action are put on death-row, and at a convenient time another referendum is held.

            If that second "redemption" referendum does not pass, those political leaders are executed.

            If it later turns out th
      • I can't understand why the US places so much importance on their president... They can't even make laws --

        No, they can't make laws. But they can and do veto the laws that Congress makes, so they have considerable political influence. They also control the federal government's executive branch, so they and the cabinet ministers under them wield substantial real power, up to the limits imposed by the constitution and enacted law.

        Wouldn't it be better if the pres actually served in an armed force prior to election as chief commander?

        I don't think so. Despite the fact that it would help immensely for the C in C to have first-hand military experience, it would also exclude a whole pool of folks who for whatever reason

        • by anyGould (1295481)

          I don't think so. Despite the fact that it would help immensely for the C in C to have first-hand military experience, it would also exclude a whole pool of folks who for whatever reason haven't served in the military. The founding fathers got this right. The only two constitutional restrictions for presidential candidates a native-born citizen at least 35 years of age.

          Not to mention that the presumption is that a president has access to the best experts available. In the case of military matters, the Joint Chiefs.

          And if I had to pick a field of expertise for our leader, I'd rather have an economist than a soldier these days.

          • I disagree. Experienced soldiers tend to know that war is a bad idea. Economists think it is good for stimulating growth...
    • by _Shad0w_ (127912)

      British government has always operated under the concept of "need to know", she didn't need to know, so she wasn't told. Her father, on the other hand, may have known. The monarch has the right to be consulted, to encourage and to warn, the heir apparent doesn't.

      • OT but Princess Elizabeth was never heir apparent. As with all female heirs to the British throne, she was heir presumptive, as in theory she could have moved down the order of succession if a younger brother had come along. Notwithstanding that this would have been unlikely given her mother's age (52 at the time of QE2's succession).

        Isn't male-preference primogeniture wonderful?

      • by DagdaMor (518567)
        Princess Elizabeth was never the Heir Apparent as there was always possiblilty of a son taking her place, so she was only Heir Presumptive.
      • Fair point, I suppose a driver in the ATS didn't need to know things like that. But if one doodlebug had landed in a different place...

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Apparently the operations at Bletchley were so secret that during the war Princess Elizabeth (as she then was) didn't even know they existed.

      She was probably considered a security risk due to all those German relatives.

      But what possible reason could she have had for needing to know about Bletchley Park?

  • by FTL (112112)

    Basically it's a two-bit finite state machine and a pair of lookup tables.

    "Can you list all the 16 countries of which her majesty is the queen?"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wow, you solved a puzzle aimed at 12 year olds. Would you like some cake?

      • by Erbo (384)

        Wow, you solved a puzzle aimed at 12 year olds. Would you like some cake?

        I understand that this offer may not be entirely the truth.

      • by symes (835608)

        I would imagine posting anything like a puzzle on slashdot would attract attention and get solved fairly quickly, whether it is for 4 year olds or at the other extreme and devilishly difficult. Those of us who like to solve puzzles do so because we enjoy solving puzzles, not for the prospect of cake.

      • No, I'll have the "death", please.

    • by kyz (225372)
      Wow, you're good at this. Next task: can you decode this one [wikipedia.org]?
    • by GrahamCox (741991)
      I bet you're a bundle of fun at kids' parties.
  • That Alan Turing was not recognised for his achievements before he was, basically, condemned to death by that same government/monarchy.

    • by leenks (906881)

      Same monarchy (though basically puppets now), but definitely not the same Government.

    • Re:Such a pity (Score:5, Informative)

      by dave420 (699308) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:05AM (#36798086)
      It was the government. The monarchy had nothing to do with it.
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        It was the government. The monarchy had nothing to do with it.

        You obviously read neither the article, nor the source it linked to. [royal.gov.uk]

        To mark Her Majesty's visit to Bletchley Park, The Queen has issued a Code Book Challenge to schoolchildren.

        Notice the site: royal.gov.uk. The official site of the British monarchy.

        When asked to comment on your post, the Queen reportedly said "We are not amused."

  • by ItsIllak (95786) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:22AM (#36797786) Homepage

    Not to take away from it, as I think it's a nice way of raising the profile of Bletchley Park among young mathematicians, but it's decoding as you're given the code-book.

  • Good news!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aceticon (140883) on Monday July 18, 2011 @04:24AM (#36797796)

    In the middle of the recent fallout from the discovery of the abuses that happened during the credit bubble years (banker bonuses, press abuses, police corruption, cozy relations between politicians and the press), the Royal Household seems to be one of the few institutions that's coming out as squeaky clean.

    So with a bit of luck, actions by the Queen might have a little more impact in public opinion than they would during the "time-of-excesses".

    So even though I'm neither a royalist nor a british citizen, I welcome and applaud anything that might portray to kids the notion that technology is cool - they've been too long enthralled by dreams of being footballers or TV celebrities.

    • by OttoM (467655)
      ... and to promote that technology is cool, let's call in the help of the most uncool person in the world: QE II.
      • That statement is demonstrably false.
        • by anyGould (1295481)

          Agreed - you can make some cases for the royal family's reputation taking a few hits over the years, the Queen herself? I only wish other politicians used her a role model of how authority figures are supposed to act.

          • by Reziac (43301) *

            I've sometimes wished we could borrow Her Majesty to head things up here in the States... we could use someone with a spot of ethics and common sense, and perhaps a good deal more long-term perspective than the common elected-today booted-tomorrow politician.

    • These days nobody cares what the Queen does. They do, however, notice when Kate is wearing a new dress.

  • by nickovs (115935) on Monday July 18, 2011 @06:33AM (#36798192)

    I had the pleasure of meeting HRH the Duke of Edinburgh at an event once and, upon hearing that I worked in cryptography, he told me about his time working signals in the British navy during the second world war. He said he had always been fascinated by the operation of the British TypeX [wikipedia.org] equipment that he used back then. I don't suppose that he did any code breaking but he certainly was using codes well before the Cypherpunks [wikipedia.org] came along.

  • The Royal Cryptographer.

    I'd apply for it, just for the title.

    (Also would have been a good name for a book by William Gibson in the 90s)

  • I wonder if the Fox News/Wall Street Journal/News of the World empire will participate in the code-breaking contest?

    They appear qualified.

  • There are *children* who pay attention to what the *Queen* has to say?

    How depressing.

  • ...is what she carries in that purse!
  • Well anyone whow atched series 4 of Chuck know Agent X is Hartley Winterbottom/Alexei Volkoff. Code cracked :P
  • The next challenge from the Queen will be "Stop posting on slashdot and get back to work!"

  • I decoded the whole thing up to section 5 and realized that it was boring and I had real things to do today. Anyone decode the whole thing? Here's what I got so far:

    Urgent message for you and your groups

    Important event will take place

    It will happen at the Bletchley Park Codes Breaking Centre

    Bletchley Park was the birthplace of the modern computer

"Never give in. Never give in. Never. Never. Never." -- Winston Churchill

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