Last night was another sleep between-the-beds-night, this time “baby” joined the party.
We packed the car, which seems to be getting trickier with all the sweet merch we have picked up along our quest. We hit the M40 with the reminder the UK are not yet out of the fuel crisis. Perhaps we have been lucky with traffic with potentially fewer cars on the roads? Our general feeling is that panic buying has slowed down and the issue, with a little help, is slowly resolving itself.
Today we headed to Bletchley Park, which had been on the bucket list before we set off from Australia. You could see how proud the town was with their WWII efforts. Even Google had gone to the effort of creating an Easter egg specifically for Bletchley Park.
When we arrived the phone was ringing. Eloise was quick to answer “Becca, Becca, Becca”, there was no reply. Must have been a bad line in the “Chum Bucket”. We eventually moved Eloise past the entrance phone. At the start, there was a series of displays including Enigma machines that set the scene and described the challenge faced by the Allies.
The Enigma machine is a cipher device developed and used in the early- to mid-20th century to protect commercial, diplomatic, and military communication. It was employed extensively by Nazi Germany during World War II, in all branches of the German military. The Germans believed, erroneously, that use of the Enigma machine enabled them to communicate securely and thus enjoy a huge advantage in World War II. The Enigma machine was considered so secure that it was used to encipher even the most top-secret messages.
We then entered Bletchley Park and visited the National Radio Centre. Exposed old oscillators and synthesisers, we thought we had walked into Grandpa Fensom’s hobby room. Always mind-boggling to see how far technology has developed in a short amount of time. Eloise loved pressing the buttons on the displays and made sure none were left untouched.
There was a large amateur radio setup where they demonstrated how the hardware worked and showed where they were receiving signals from, ironically there was a lot from Germany.
We walked past the famous Bletchley Park Mansion when a playground caught Eloise’s eye, luckily she had half an hour before the tour began.
Bletchley Park is an English country house and estate in Bletchley, Milton Keynes (Buckinghamshire) that became the principal centre of Allied code-breaking during the Second World War. The mansion was constructed during the years following 1883 for the financier and politician Sir Herbert Leon in the Victorian Gothic, Tudor, and Dutch Baroque styles, on the site of older buildings of the same name. During World War II the estate housed the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS), which regularly penetrated the secret communications of the Axis Powers – most importantly the German Enigma and Lorenz ciphers. The GC&CS team of codebreakers included Alan Turing, Gordon Welchman, Hugh Alexander, Bill Tutte, and Stuart Milner-Barry. The nature of the work at Bletchley remained secret until many years after the war.
The bombe is an electro-mechanical device used by the British cryptologists to help decipher German Enigma-machine-encrypted secret messages during World War II. The first bombe was named “Victory”. It was installed in “Hut 1” at Bletchley Park on 18 March 1940. It was based on Turing’s original design and so lacked a diagonal board. They had to install the double doors at the end of the hut to fit the computer in, which is not located on-site. A working reconstruction of one of the most famous wartime machines is now on display at The National Museum of Computing, add it to the list.
The tour went into detail about the operation of Bletchley Park and how it tied in with events from WWII. Afterwards, we ducked back through some of the historic buildings and huts, which we had seen in The Imitation Game. There was so much information to absorb, you could spend days here. It is truly impressive what some of the greatest minds were able to achieve in complete secrecy.
For as long as Liam remembers he has been picking out IEEE magazines from his parents’ letterbox for Grandpa Fensom, suspicious…
Eloise then insisted it was Super Mum’s turn to carry her. Lachlan was happy for the switch too. Boys vs girls.
Alan Mathison Turing OBE FRS (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Born in Maida Vale, London, Turing was raised in southern England. He graduated at King’s College, Cambridge, with a degree in mathematics. Whilst he was a fellow at Cambridge, he published a proof demonstrating that some purely mathematical yes–no questions can never be answered by computation and defined a Turing machine, and went on to prove the halting problem for Turing machines is undecidable. In 1938, he obtained his PhD from the Department of Mathematics at Princeton University. During the Second World War, Turing worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre that produced Ultra intelligence. For a time he led Hut 8, the section that was responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. Here, he devised a number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers, including improvements to the pre-war Polish bombe method, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine. Turing played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the Axis powers in many crucial engagements, including the Battle of the Atlantic.
Grandpa Fensom always makes fast work of the Saturday Advertiser sudoku and crosswords before answering the majority of the weekend quiz on behalf of the family. Since he is a retired man, CONGRATULATIONS! Eloise selected a book of the world’s most challenging codes to break. That should slow him down.
We left Bletchley Park and noticed wee robots driving around town, even crossing roads. We thought a hostile robot takeover had occurred and had to find out more.
While the Starship Technology robots are autonomous, they are not disconnected from their operators. If a robot comes up against a significant challenge, such as a particularly massive curb (they can climb up and over regular sidewalk curbs), a human operator can take control and find a solution.
After getting a glimpse of what a robot apocalypse would be like, we arrived at Travelodge Cambridge Orchard Park, this one conveniently had a restaurant. We unpacked the bags and down went all the mini milks. This was Eloise’s favourite Travelodge so far, due to the additional mini milk and close proximity to a playground.