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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tuberculosis specialist honored

(somewhat tricky, at first)


jdege said...

Bah. One odd word a difficult puzzle does not make.

Qdlnnlkbaalpzp, bc l ojzjnl hnpol
aldnpzpkj avleqpkol kbnnp zpqp;
l qjdjajzl bdpk omool elepkol
b np ejep dpcbzp imjdladpqp.

"Ilanlmjnj elj, hop' poobkoj pn Alqdjzpyyj,
cpanl pdolanl b cpn ejdhj npybdpkob;
imaal n'myybnnj Almaaljnj, b kbn hpyyj
ebool lkilkb ln idmeljhj Qpkclipkob".
-- Nbulh Ypddjnn, "Wpqqbdujyxs"

BreakingCodes said...

jdege, those look vaguely Italian. I'll take a shot at them when I get some time.

Cryptopop said...

Great puzzle! I did it sans plume and it made the sim sub quite challenging.

Phthisis is a rather old-fashioned term for Tuberculosis but makes for great cryp words.


BreakingCodes said...

jdege: Well, it was sort of Italian! It would have been impossible without the very recognizable name of the author (who, by the way, was also a cryptanalyst).

Cryptopop: Maybe I'll make up a bumper sticker for you. "Pens don't solve cryptograms. People do."

jdege said...

I've always been fascinated by the Vig story. Babbage/Kasiski/Carroll/Friedman.

Everyone "knows" that Babbage demonstrated that he knew how to crack Vigs in 1854, that Kasiski first published a method for cracking Vigs in 1862. And that Carroll published the Vig as being completely unbreakable in 1868. And then there's Friedman publishing a much better method in 1922, which no one knew about because it was kept classified for decades.

There are aspects of this story I've never quite believed in.

First, I've never seen anything to confirm that Babbage used Kasiski's method. He used some method, certainly, but if he ever said what it was, I've seen no mention of it.

Second, there has always been a third method of solving Vigs, using probable words. IIRC, it's described in Helen Gaine's 1939 book, and Friedman mentions it in one of his old articles. I've no idea who invented it, or how long it's been around. But there is a description of how to use something like it to crack a Gronsfeld in an 1807 encyclopedia.

As for Vigenere, he didn't invent the Vig, it was known long before he wrote about it. What he was discussing were improvements to it, that would make it more difficult to break.

Which makes me believe that the probable word method, or some equivalent, was known, even in 1586. And that may be why, despite it's public reputation as being unbreakable, nobody with any sense ever used it.