View Full Version : Why History Remains Fascinating

07-02-2009, 02:52 PM
Never stop finding stuff. Not too mention playing 'What If....':


Two Centuries On, a Cryptologist Cracks a Presidential Code
Unlocking This Cipher Wasn't Self-Evident; Algorithms and Educated Guesses

For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson's correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher -- a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved. Until now...

The cipher finally met its match in Lawren Smithline, a 36-year-old mathematician. Dr. Smithline has a Ph.D. in mathematics and now works professionally with cryptology, or code-breaking, at the Center for Communications Research in Princeton, N.J., a division of the Institute for Defense Analyses....

After about a week of working on the puzzle, the numerical key to Mr. Patterson's cipher emerged -- 13, 34, 57, 65, 22, 78, 49. Using that digital key, he was able to unfurl the cipher's text:

"In Congress, July Fourth, one thousand seven hundred and seventy six. A declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled. When in the course of human events..."

That, of course, is the beginning -- with a few liberties taken -- to the Declaration of Independence, written at least in part by Jefferson himself. "Patterson played this little joke on Thomas Jefferson," says Dr. Smithline. "And nobody knew until now." ;)