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Monday, July 15, 2013

Day 11: Bletchley Park

Today, I went with my class to Bletchley Park. It was where the allies broke Germany's codes and helped win us the war. We started with a lecture about how the Enigma and Colossus machines were built and how they decoded things. It was really interesting!

Enigma: The wheels at the top would be set to a specific setting (out of 158 million million) and you would type your message. As you typed, the letters about the keyboard would light up sporatically. That was what you would send. If you typed in "Hello, how are you?" it might come out "Jaodo, nab sue fuw?" You would sent the rubbish to the recipient. They would know the wheel setting and as they typed their rubbish into their Enigma, the letters would light up and form the original message.

After the lecture, it was lunch time. They had a small cafe that we could get food in. I chose to get some vegetable beef casserole. It was okay I guess.

We then had a bit of time until we were going to the codebreaking room, so our guide showed us the inside of Bletchley mansion and told us a bit about it. It was going to be torn down by the original owner's family. They thought it was ugly. The government, though, was looking for a deciphering headquarters and liked how close Bletchley was to Cambridge and Oxford. They bought it. It became knoiwn as the Government Codes and Ciphers School. Soon after, 10,000 people were working there. 75% of those were women. All were sworn to absolute secrecy and believe it or not, Bletchley was kept a secret until the 1970s.

The mansion was really pretty, but it was rather small for what I consider a mansion.
The grounds were beautiful!
SUCH A PRETTY HOUSE
After we saw part of the mansion, we had to get to the codebreaking room. After the war, every single thing was destroyed. All of the enigmas, all of the colossuses, everything. Someone in the 1990s wanted to rebuild it all, so he searched and was able to find some of the original engineers INCLUDING the man who built the Colossus computer, otherwise known as the first computer. Several of the had illegal journals and drawings of the machines so it was easier to rebuild. All of the rebuilds are working models.

The telegraph machine that would intercept codes.

Colossus, the first computer. It had over 1,000 valves.
From there, we saw the Churchill Collection that is soon being kicked out of the Park because it doesn't involve code-breaking.

It was really cool in there! 
After that, we were finished for the day and headed back to London. I had to rush to the dorm, find out where the O2 centre was and then rush to the box office to buy my Hillsong Conference tickets for the last week here. I made it in time, after getting an extension on my Oyster Card. I was buying my tickets and the box office man was creating an account for me to get them. He asked for my post code, which I thought meant address. He corrected me and I gave him my zip code. He asked for a UK code. I said I didn't know it, but that it was Queen Mary. He looked it up and asked for a phone number before saying "You don't know that either?" He laughed when I told him I had a photo of my number. It was a bit awkward, but I got my tickets!

Less than $70 to see Hillsong Live twice and Louie Giglio and Chris Tomlin and Judah Smith and Bryan Houston. WORTH IT.

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