Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) will be marking the centenary year of Alan Turing’s birth with code-breaking challenges, a modern day recreation of Turing’s famous Bombe decryption machine and a live code-breaking link-up with Bletchley Park at this year’s Manchester Science Festival in the Great Western Warehouse of the Museum of Science and Industry from 27-29 October 2012.
Members of the public will be invited to encrypt a message on one of GCHQ’s original wartime Enigma machines at the Festival, before it is sent to Bletchley Park, home of the wartime codebreakers. Once at Bletchley Park, the message will be decrypted using the Turing Bombe Rebuild machine and the decrypt ‘tweeted’ back. The whole event will be live and interactive using two-way Skype videoconferencing, ensuring that members of the public in both Manchester and Bletchley Park can see every part of the encryption/decryption process.
Alongside an acknowledgment of its wartime heritage, the GCHQ of today will be demonstrated by a number of challenging and innovative games and puzzles to test the Manchester public’s problem-solving skills, developed by GCHQ’s young apprentice technologists and industrial placement students.
The games and features will include, a safe with many locks, which can only be opened through a knowledge of mental arithmetic and GCHQ’s history and a Cyber Breach Game, where the object is to stop an attack on UK computer systems by overcoming five code-breaking and logic puzzles. A Morse code transmitter will also be available for members of the public to send Morse messages and view them in plain English on a computer screen.
Another particular feature, created by one of GCHQ’s young apprentices, will be a cluster of Raspberry Pi’s which recreates the decryption functions of Turing’s original wartime Bombe machine. This enables the decryption process from the Enigmas to be completed in seconds.
A spokeswoman for GCHQ said: “We are delighted to be involved in the Manchester Science Festival this year as we celebrate the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth; by bringing together old and new technologies it is a great opportunity to demonstrate the importance of his legacy to GCHQ today.”
GCHQ is one of the three UK Intelligence Agencies and works to protect the UK’S national security interests. It has been engaging with the local community and supporting voluntary work for many years.
Bletchley Park is the historic site of the secret British codebreaking activities during the Second World War and the birthplace of the modern computer.
About The Manchester Science Festival
The Manchester Science Festival 2012 will run from 27 October – 4 November. The event brings together some of the best scientists, from Manchester and beyond, who discuss their work, the UK’s most cutting-edge research and what the future might hold. Manchester is at the very heart of science in the UK and the Festival is your opportunity to question the experts.
For more information on the Manchester Science Festival please visit:
Alan Mathison Turing was a cryptanalyst and computer scientist who is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. During the Second World War he worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park and designed techniques for breaking German ciphers including those encrypted using the Enigma machine. This year marks the centenary of Alan Turing’s birth which will be celebrated by numerous events across the country forming part of what is known as Turing 2012.