Tag Archives: history

WWII code-breaking computer goes head to head with modern pc

A legend reborn… or rebuilt at leastThe ten ‘Colussus’ code-breaking machines, thought to be the first modern digital computers, broke the code of many German communications through the second world war. To commemorate the work done by the codebreakers at Bletchley Park, Tony Sale has rebuilt one of the machines, which were broken down after the war for security reasons.

Now, with the rebuilt machine functioning, a competition is being run to decipher a German transmission similar to those seen during the war. The rebuilt Colussus will compete with a virtual version of the codebreaking program on a modern computer. Due to the single-minded nature of the Colussus, it’s closer than you may think. Sometimes a multi-purpose personal computer isn’t as good as a van sized monstrosity made up of 2000 valves.

[via BBC, image via picotech]

160,000 year journey of man

ice in europeA lot can happen in 160,000 years. Back then a handful of human beings scraped out a life in Africa and at various hard times during the centuries catastrophes have pushed the total world population down to barely 10,000 people. This excellent animation by the Bradshaw Foundation shows how the human race expanded and contracted as climate changed, eventually spreading to all the continents after the last ice age. Watching the ice and glaciers advance and retreat and volcanoes erupt and change and the impact this had on human lives is a stark warning to anyone denying climate change. It’s amazing how much the Earth can effect our lives.

And here’s a reminder of just how small even mankind’s efforts are amidst the vastness of the universe. This wonderfully kitsch 1977 video zooms out at a power of ten from the earth out into space. Alternatively, why not go the other way, as in this zooming in animation.

[via Dark Roasted Blend][image courtesy of gipuzkoakultura.net]