Colonial Spymaster (#5) — Pigpen Cypher

The Pigpen Cipher is another example of a substitution cipher, but rather than replacing each letter with another letter, the letters are replaced by symbols. The cipher has an interesting history: although its true origins are unknown, it has been used by many groups. Most notoriously, it was the cipher of choice for use by …

Samuel Adams was born on September 27, 1722

On September 27, 1722, Samuel Adams was born to Samuel Adams, Sr. and Mary (Fifield) Adams. Samuel was one of twelve children only three of whom survived past their 3rd birthday. Adams went on to attend Harvard College where he graduated in 1740 and after several failed attempts to make a career as a lawyer, …

Colonial Spymaster (#4) — Polybius Cypher

The Polybius checkerboard, is a device invented by the ancient Greeks Cleoxenus and Democleitus, and made famous by the historian and scholar Polybius, a Greek historian noted for his work The Histories, which covered the period of 264–146 BCE.  Polybius was well known to the Founding Fathers of the United States and was influential on …

Early Meteorology — Predicting the Weather 18th Century Style: scientific beginnings in England

The shift from superstition to scientific study of meteorology began when proper measuring instruments became available in the mid-17th century. By the early 18th century, Daniel Fahrenheit produced accurate mercury thermometers calibrated to a standard scale that ranged from 32 to 96 degrees (i.e., from the melting point of ice to body temperature).  Early work …

Colonial Spymaster (#3) — Ottendorf or Book Cypher

The Ottendorf Cypher, or Book Cypher, is a cyphertext is made up of numbers in groups of 3, and these numbers correspond to positions in a book (or other type of text).  Most often the numbers refer to Line, Word, and Letter.  To encode a message, the encoder needs only to find the word at …