In preparation for class on Thursday, October 21st, please read the fourth chapter in the Singh book and respond to the following questions.
- Given what you’ve now read about Bletchley Park’s role in World War Two, would you say that “Bletchley Park’s achievements were the decisive factor in the Allied victory”?
- Why might the Germans increase the number of scramblers and plugboard cables in their Enigma machines to make them more secure, yet also insist that the Enigma cipher could not possibly be broken by the Allies?
- We’ve seen that the Vigenère cipher was once though unbreakable but later broken. Given that history, why might the Americans and French conclude that the Enigma cipher was unbreakable prior to the start of the Second World War?
- Singh writes on page 149 that “the creative codebreaker must ‘perforce commune daily with dark spirits to accomplish his feats of mental ju-jitsu.’” In light of your own experiences breaking ciphers, which is more important to successful codebreaking-logic or creativity? Or is an equal balance of both required?
- The Timeline: Take a look at the crpytography timeline you’ve built as a class. What insights about the history of cryptography occur to you as you examine the timeline? How could the timeline be improved to make it more useful to you, particularly as you think ahead to your “big questions” paper at the end of the course?