Thursday, December 15, 2011

Knowledge is Power: How to Make Anything Signify Anything

Detail from a photograph of World War I cryptographers.
By facing either forward or sideways, the soldiers formed the coded phrase
“Knowledge is power” utilizing Francis Bacon’s biliteral cipher.

via The Cataloguer’s Desk and the Cabinet magazine
“The belief that Shakespeare did not write the works attributed to him originated in the mid 19th century, coinciding with an upsurge in his popularity and with the Victorian interest in puzzles and mysteries. Though more than 70 candidates have been proposed as the true author, for many years the most popular option was the natural philosopher and politician Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626). As a young man Bacon lived for several years in France, where he studied statecraft and learned about cryptography, a field in which that nation was leading the rest of Europe. He developed his own ‘bilateral’ cipher, which used the letters a and b to generate the entire alphabet…”
Read the rest here, and a fascinating piece in The Cabinet Magazine on ”How to Make Anything Signify Anything” here.  Though I am hardly any good at solving them, I find codes and cyphers fascinating. My wife creatively utilized many for clues to letterboxes we created.