Friday Headlines

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Cracking the Code at Bletchley Park

Sixth Form

17 February 2023

Last Friday, Sixth Form Mathematicians and Year 10 Computer Science students were given the opportunity to visit Bletchley Park to explore how the German enigma machine was cracked during WW2 and the fascinating ways that maths was able to create the first ever computer. This was an eagerly anticipated trip especially for the many of us who had been captivated by the film, The Imitation Game (which everyone should watch!).

The park was incredible and the students took part in a fascinating workshop about what the enigma was and why it was so complex to crack. We managed to calculate just how many different possible solutions there were (over 5 trillion!) each day and therefore why the Bombe was such a brilliant invention. Of course, I also have to mention that we pressed the same buttons on the Enigma machine as Benedict Cumberbatch (the lead actor in The Imitation Game)!

After a self-guided tour around the site where we saw first-hand the diagrams and plans drawn by the incredible code-breakers, (including Alan Turing himself), we took a tour with a professional who was able to tell us all about Bletchley and the history surrounding it. One of the interesting things said was that one woman, who had applied to work at Bletchley Park at the time, attended an interview with the General who made it clear that the job was top secret when he lifted his hat off the table to reveal a pistol!

It certainly inspired many of us to pursue our education of maths and science further as well as showing us how subjects like these can be used practically and to solve life-changing puzzles in the future, maybe even by one of us.

On behalf of all of the students, we are very grateful to the entire maths department for such an enriching trip.

By Indira Jagpal

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