The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Episode 36 – Musical Cryptography

by Audrey Scudder

Mixing Console and LaptopWe are constantly surrounded by music in our everyday lives, and as technology has progressed, it’s become even more prevalent. But what if this music could be used as more than just a form of entertainment? For centuries, authors, composers, and scientists have been experimenting with the possibility of musical cryptography and steganography. In this episode, we explore different methods of encrypting and hiding messages in music, the history of the practice, and how musical cryptography affects how we analyze music from the past and how we could produce music in the future.


“Acoustic Guitar Loop” from

“Radio Noise” from

“Electronic Beat” from

“Variations on an Original Theme ‘Enigma’, Op.36” By Edward Elgar from (Movements 1, 9, 10 used)


Thicknesse, P. (1772). A Treatise on the Art of Decyphering, and of Writing in Cypher with an Harmonic Alphabet. London: W. Brown.
Owano, N. (2016, August 20). Music Tempo Carries Hidden Information. Retrieved from
Estrin, D. (2018, March 15). Elgar’s ‘Enigma’ Still Keeps Music Detectives Busy. Retrieved from
arXiv, E. T. from the. (2016, August 17). Party Algorithm Hides Messages in Ibiza Trance Music. Retrieved from

Wikipedia contributors. (2019, September 19). Dorabella Cipher. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:31, October 30, 2019, from

Image: “Mixing Console and Laptop,” Dejan Krsmanovic, Flickr, CC BY

Episode 35 – The Lorenz Cipher

by Spencer Jones

The Lorenz MachineThis podcast is about the Lorenz cipher machine. The Lorenz cipher was Hitler’s preferred method of encryption used by himself and all his officials for communication. The Lorenz is simply described as an Enigma machine—- with millions of more possible keys and configurations. This podcast describes the conception of the Lorenz, how the encryption works, and how the code was ultimately broken by the Allies with the help of the world’s first computer.


(n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2019, from

(n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2019, from

How Lorenz was different from Enigma. (n.d.). Retrieved October 27, 2019, from

Lorenz SZ-40/42. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2019, from

The Imitation Game: Turing, Bletchley and the Colossus. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2019, from

The Lorenz Cipher. (n.d.). Retrieved October 26, 2019, from

[singingbanana]. (2014, September 7). Lorenz: Hitler’s “Unbreakable” Cipher Machine [Video File]. Retrieved from

[Sounds of Changes]. (2015, November 24). Teleprinter automatic printing [Video File]. Retrieved from

[Sounds of Changes]. (2015, November 24). Teleprinter typing [Video File]. Retrieved from

[ParadoxMirror]. (2011, June 26) Radio Static Sound Effect [Video File]. Retrieved from

(2019). Snowy Forest – Electronica Ambient Chill Out – Free Download [Recorded by Kabbalistic Village]. On Free Music to Use Youtube, Vimeo videos and Podcasts – Updated August 2019! [MP3 File]. Soundcloud.

Image: Lorenz cams, Ted Coles, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Episode 34 – The McCormick Cipher

by Chandu Kona

Ricky McCormick's NoteRanked among the greatest unsolved ciphers in history, Ricky McCormick’s notes have baffled intelligence agencies, wanna-be sleuths, and everyone in between for the past two decades. In 1999, Ricky McCormick was found dead in a ditch with two notes hidden inside his pocket. First revealed to the public a decade later, the notes appear to be filled with nonsense and unreadable sentences; but this seemingly random sequence of characters may not be so random at all. The authorities believe that these notes may hold the key, quite literally, to solving Ricky McCormick’s murder, but to this day the notes have yet to be deciphered.


Ricky McCormick. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Tritto, C. (2019, July 29). Code Dead: Do the encrypted writings of Ricky McCormick hold the key to his mysterious death? Retrieved from

Help Solve an Open Murder Case, Part 2. (2011, March 29). Retrieved from

Nickpelling, & Nickpelling. (2013, March 12). Ricky McCormick’s mysterious notes… Retrieved from

More information may be found in any one of the hyperlinks pasted above.

Audio Sources

All music taken from Kevin Macleod on

Image: Ricky McCormick Note #2, Wikimedia Commons

Episode 33 – Jefferson’s Wheel Cipher

by Stella Wang

Jefferson's Wheel CipherThomas Jefferson is revered as a diplomat, politician, and thinker, but his role as an innovator is lesser-known. One of his many inventions includes the wheel cipher: America’s first cryptographic device. In this episode of One Time Pod, the story of the wheel cipher, and Étienne Bazeries’ invention of an extremely similar device 100 years later, is uncovered.

Narrator: Stella Wang

Thomas Jefferson: Zach Gruber

Étienne Bazeries: Cooper Scanlon

Works Cited

Kahn, D. (1973). The code breakers: The story of secret writing. New York: The Macmillan Company.

Wheel Cipher. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Candela, R. (1938). The military cipher of commandant bazeries. New York: Cardanus Press.

Cypher Wheels. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Audio Sources

Retrieved from

  • Lounge House Chillout Background Music
  • Magical Harp
  • Tension Music
  • Whistle Noise
  • Mysterious Piano Theme

Retrieved from

  • Yankee Doodle

More information

Image: Jefferson Disk, Wikimedia Commons’s_disk_cipher.jpg

Episode 32 – W. B. Tyler

by Wayne Wu

This episode talks about the story of two ciphers that appear in the magazines in the 1980s. A reader named W. B. Tyler wrote the ciphers in a letter and sent to the editor Edgar Allan Poe. The two images below are the two ciphers of W. B. Tyler. After these two ciphers were published in the magazines, these two ciphertexts had been forgotten for about a hundred fifty years and no one had solved these. With the proposition that Tyler and Poe were actually the same person, these two ciphertexts emerged again. Finally, these two ciphertexts were solved, but more mysteries came up. In this podcast, you will not only learn the methods of solving these two ciphertexts, but also the mystery behind the ciphertexts. Want to know more about the mystery of W. B. Tyler and Edgar Allan Poe? You definitely can’t miss this episode.









Works Cited

Hodgson, J. A. (1993, October 1). Decoding Poe? Poe, W. B. Tyler, and Cryptography, from

Christensen, C. (2006 Fall). Ciphers that Substitute Symbols, from 5 symbols.pdf.

Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Gold-Bug” (1843). (2019, July 18), from

Tomokiyo, S. (2015, January 7). Solution of Tyler’s Cryptograms in Poe’s Article, from

Bokler Software Corp. (2000, October 13). Cipher Solved But Mystery Remains, from

Audio Sources

Alexander Blu. Airy melancholic synth pad. Retrieved from:

Main Street Walk. Retrieved from:


Episode 31 – The Unabomber Ciphers

by Kellia Love

The Unabomber's ShackMy podcast “Kaczynski Ciphers: The Unabomber’s Unused Encryptions” is about the serial killer Dr. Theodore Kaczynski. It covers what he did before starting a life of crime, the reason for his crimes, the consequences of his actions, and ultimately, what led him to be caught and his criminal career coming to an abrupt halt. The podcast also covers how the FBI initially reacted to the ciphers that they found and how they went about the situation. For a good portion of the podcast, I explain how the two codes Kaczynski created worked, and also provided an example of how someone could encode something using his methods.


Kifner, John. (1992, April 6). On the Suspect’s Trail: Life in Montana. Retrieved from

Kintz, Theresa. (2014, December 16). Interview with Ted Kaczynski. Retrieved from

Klaus, Schmeh. (2014, March 8). Klaus Schmeh’s Unabomber Cipher Page. Retrieved from

Klaus, Schmeh. (2016, September 4). The Ciphers of the Unabomber. Retrieved from

Knowles, William. (1997 December 26). Cryptographer Examines Kaczynski’s Journal.

Unabomber. (2016, May 18). Retrieved from


Audio Sources


  • Magic
  • Voyage
  • Reminisce
  • Something New

Image: Unabomber shack, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

Episode 30 – Hieroglyphics

by Daniel Kim

HieroglyphicsOne of the oldest written languages ever, Egyptian hieroglyphics have remained an unsolvable mystery for hundreds of years. And while the intent was not to hide any sort of message, the process of figuring out the correlation between hieroglyphic characters and its meaning took centuries to figure out, which is why they can be considered one of the earliest forms of cryptography known to mankind.

Works Cited

Cryptographic hieroglyphic writing. (n.d.). Retrieved from​.

This article helps make the connections between hieroglyphics and cryptography: how the two relate, or rather how hieroglyphics are the earliest example of cryptography. The fact that this ancient language confused many experts for centuries shows the complexity of the language and the cracking of them would be difficult.

Dirda, M. (2012, August 22). Book World: ‘Cracking the Egyptian Code,’ by Andrew Robinson, explores hieroglyphs. Retrieved from de-by-andrew-robinson-explores-hieroglyphs/2012/08/22/db83be96-e0f5-11e1-a19c-fcfa365 396c8_story.html​.

The actual cracking of the hieroglyphics is what I want to focus on, because this is essentially what I believe makes this language a cipher language. This will go into who figured out the mystery of Egyptian hieroglyphics and how he/she was able to figure it out.

Scalf, F., & Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. (n.d.). The Rosetta Stone: Unlocking the Ancient Egyptian Language. Retrieved from​.

Related to the source above, this will go into the actual cracking of the cipher language. Specifically, the Rosetta Stone was an instrumental part of the process, so I want to touch upon the rock that holds the secrets of the Egyptians.

Scoville, P. (2019, October 10). Egyptian Hieroglyphs. Retrieved from​.
This article will help me get into a lot of basics of Egyptian hieroglyphics, such as its purpose, how it was constructed/made up, and how it was used back in the time of the ancient Egyptians.

Singh, S. (2011, February 17). History – Ancient History in depth: The Decipherment of Hieroglyphs. Retrieved from​.
This article, which is actually written by Singh, is an overview of everything from above. This covers mostly its constructs, how it was cracked, as well as several geniuses of the 17th and 18th centuries that were obsessed with the phenomenon.

Audio Sources

Retrieved from

Egyptian Ceremony

Retrieved from

Dark Tension Rising

Retrieved from

War Drums

Inspirational Background Music

Retrieved from


Retrieved from

Title: Jazzy by LiQWYD

Genre and Mood: Hip Hop & Rap + Calm

License: Royalty-free music for YouTube, Facebook and Instagram videos giving the appropriate credit.

Retrieved from


Retrieved from

Simple Peaceful Piano Melody

Mystical Background — Mysterious and Melodic Music

Image: Hieroglyphics,” Andrea, Flickr (CC BY-SA)

Episode 29 – Hash Functions

by Maxim Mukhin

Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)The hash function is a one way cryptographic tool used to convert words into numbers. Using this function, a website can compare passwords and other sensitive information without actually storing any information except for the numbers, which are meaningless to any unauthorized user. I give a brief introduction as to how in the 1960’s the idea of hashing was created. I then move on to describe potential ways in which hash functions are broken, and the weaknesses of certain examples. Moving into the 1980’s I introduce the two main types of hash functions used in the public sector, MD and SHA. I give an overview of their general idea and discuss some implications of the SHA, which was created by the NSA.


Preneel, B. (2008). The First 30 Years of Cryptographic Hash Functions and
Stevens, H. (2018). Hans Peter Luhn and the Birth of the Hashing Algorithm. IEEE Spectrum. Retrieved from:

Silva, J. (2003). An Overview of Cryptographic Hash Functions and Their Uses. SANS Information Security Reading Room. Retrieved from: whitepapers/vpns/overview-cryptographic-hash-functions-879

Dodis, Y. Ristenpart, T. Shrimpton, T. (2009). Salvaging Merkle-Damgard for Practical Applications. Advances in Cryptology – EUROCRYPT ‘09, Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Retrieved from:

Cimpanu, C. (2019). A quarter of major CMSs use outdated MD5 as the default password hashing scheme. ZDNet. Retrieved from:

Music from

“Amazing Plan” by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

“Beauty Flow” by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

“The Builder” by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

“Tyrant” by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

“Marty Gots a Plan” by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

“Willow and the Light” by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

Image: Whirlpool galaxy (M51), By NASA and European Space Agency,  Public Domain,

Episode 28 – Lucifer

by Shivam Mohite

The Data Encryption Standard served as the precursor for many of the encryption algorithms that would be employed during the digital age. The prevalent encryption method for 20 years following its inception, DES – and its first iteration, LUCIFER – were instrumental in concealing American communications from malicious foreign operatives. This podcast will not only explore the development of the Data Encryption Standard, but the historical context surrounding its inception. While the Data Encryption Standard has now been proven to be breakable by modern computers, the theory underpinning its mechanics proved to be a lasting strategy when developing new encryption algorithms. DES is, therefore, rightfully regarded as the mother of all modern encryption algorithms.

Works Cited

Audio Sources

Retrieved from https://

  • Dreamy Ambient Background Music Loop
  • Electronic Beat
  • Hi tech Electronic Background Music 120 bpm
  • Lounge Deep House Chillout Music Synth Theme
  • Relaxing Thinking Time Music

Retrieved from

  • Wind Blowing

Further Reading

Image: DES Untwisted Ladder, Wikimedia Commons

Episode 27 – Numbers Stations

by Hannah Batson

RadioNumber stations are one of our most well known forms of modern day cryptography. It was first used during the end of World War I, and was later used through World War 2, and the Cold War. Today you can find many active number stations on your average online shortwave frequency radio. This podcast explores the workings of number stations, as well as popular stations that have been recorded throughout the years. Considering the recency of the confirmation of number stations, and the little knowledge that we have on these stations, this podcast will merely dive into the theories of this mysterious topic.

Works Cited

Careless, J. (12 January 2018) ​Do Shortwave ‘Number Stations’ Really Instruct Spies? Radio World. Retrieved from -instruct-spies

Goldmanis, M. (24 May 2018) ​Explaining the ‘Mystery’ of Number Stations. ​War on The Rocks. Retrieved from

Goldmanis, M. ​Before Enigma: The Early Number Station Monitors. ​NumberStations Research and Information Center. Retrieved from

Sorrel-Dejerine, O. (16 April 2014) ​The Spooky World of the ‘Number Stations’.​ BBC News Magazine. Retrieved from ​​.

Audio Clips

Tissot B. (Composer). Deep Blue [Audio File]. Retrieved from

Tissot B. (Composer). Enigmatic [Audio File]. Retrieved from

Gong Station Chimes [Audio File]. Retrieved from

HM01 [Audio File]. Retrieved from 

The Lincolnshire Poacher mi5 [Audio File]. Retrieved from

The Sweedish Rhapsody [Audio File]. Retrieved from

V13 [Audio File]. Retrieved from

Image: Radio, pxhere, CC0

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