What’s in the Copiale Cipher?

Until recently, no one knew. It’s an 18th century document written by a German secret society, and it contains a mixture of ordinary letters and strange symbols. Now, computational linguists have used modern techniques to crack this mysterious code.

Linguist Daniel Midgley reveals how they did it in this episode of Talk the Talk.

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If you like secret codes and ciphers, this one’s for you. The Copiale Cipher was cracked recently, and it’s an initiation ritual for a bunch of 18th century wannabe ophthalmologists. Intriguing, ¿no?

Have a listen, and claim your free decoder ring.

Show notes

Decoder rings are fun.

This kind of simple substitution cipher is also known as the Caesar Cipher.

Enigma machines pushed computational cryptography to the limit

but Alan Turing and co. were equal to the task.

Turing was repaid shamefully for his work in cryptanalysis and computation.

The Copiale Cipher has been cracked

The team explains how they did it (PDF)

and here’s what it said. (PDF)

Show tunes

New tradition! Where possible, I’m going to embed videos of the two songs I play on each episode.

Track one: Somersault by Decoder Ring.

Track two: Sick As Your Secrets by Le Concorde.

This one was a personal victory for me because Adam Trainer, the guy at RTRfm who knows all the music, asked me, “What’s this?” That doesn’t happen very often.