Cracking the Code of Life
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Cracking the Code of Life. Professor Michael Sternberg Head of Bioinformatics Imperial College London. Why I am here?. Bring a working scientist into a school A Royal Society Partnership Award to Mathilda Marks-Kennedy School

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Cracking the Code of Life

Professor Michael Sternberg

Head of Bioinformatics

Imperial College London


Why I am here?

  • Bring a working scientist into a school

  • A Royal Society Partnership Award to Mathilda Marks-Kennedy School

  • The Royal Society was set up in 1660 to help science and has been very important ever since.


Imperial College London

Science

Museum


How we work

My team just use computers

to crack the code of biology

Many scientists

work in laboratories


What we will do

  • Today

    • Writing in code

    • How people at Bletchley Park broke the German codes during World War II

    • How computers were invented to help crack codes

  • Next week

    • Bletchley Park Visit

  • Two weeks time

    • How Biology uses codes


Hiding what you write

  • Here is a way to send a secret message

  • Write with a special pen on paper

  • Give your message to your friend

  • Your friend has a special torch and can read the message.


But….

  • If someone else gets the paper, they could also a the special torch and read your message!!!

  • Not the best idea!!!


Sending a message in code

1) First two people meet and agree on the code


Sending a message in code

2) - The first person can then write

the message in code and send it

to the second person


Sending a message in code

3) The second person gets the message and then

changes the code back to the message.

Changing the code back is called ‘deciphering’.



One code is to shift the letters

  • Message Alphabet: abcdefgh…xyz

  • Code Alphabet: ABCDEFGH…XYZ


One code is to shift the letters

  • Message Alphabet: abcdefgh…xyz

  • Code Alphabet: ZABCDEFGH…XY


One code is to shift the letters

  • Message Alphabet: abcdefgh…xyz

  • Code Alphabet: YZABCDEFGH…X


Code wheel

Letter

in message

Letter

in code


Sending a message in code

First two people meet and agree on the code

Let’s use the shift code

and when the real letter

is ‘a’ the code will be ‘Y’


Sending a message in code

2) - The first person can then write

the message in code and send it

to the second person

Message : hello

Code: : FCJJM


Sending a message in code

3) The second person gets the message and then

changes the code back to the message.

Changing the code back is called ‘deciphering’.

Code: :FCJJM

Message : hello



Can someone else crack this code?

Code:L ORYH LFH FUHDP

Message:


Can someone else crack this code?

Code:L ORYH LFH FUHDP

Message: a


Can someone else crack this code?

Code:L ORYH LFH FUHDP

Message: adgns auw ujwse


Can someone else crack this code?

Code:L ORYH LFH FUHDP

Message:


Can someone else crack this code?

Code:L ORYH LFH FUHDP

Message: i


Can someone else crack this code?

Code:L ORYH LFH FUHDP

Message: i love ice cream


Can someone else crack this code?

Code:LORYHLFHFUHDP

in the code there are 3H, 2F, 2L

most common letters in ENGLISH is E

often used are: A, H, I, N,O,R,T


Can someone else crack this code?

Code:LORYHLFHFUHDP

Message: i?o?ei?e?rea?


Can someone else crack this code?

Code:LORYHLFHFUHDP

Message: iloveicecream


Better Codes

Scramble up alphabet

Message Alphabet: abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

Code Alphabet: ZEGNALFDROHTUCBPJIMKSQWVYX

But still can be cracked by guessing that code letters

that are used often are for letters like E in English


The Enigma Machine

  • In World War II, the Germans used a machine called the Enigma Machine to make very clever codes

  • The Enigma Machine used several wheels to scramble up the message


The Enigma Machine

Wheels

Coded letters light up

Type in message


Bletchley Park

These codes were cracked here in World War II


Used wheels called Bombes

First they built a machine with wheels and lights

called a ‘Bombe’.


Computer called Colossus

Later they built the very first computer which was called ‘Colossus’.


Codes and Computers

  • We have learnt:

    • shifting or scrambling the alphabet makes codes

    • codes can be cracked by hard work

    • the first computer was built by the British to crack the Enigma code in World War II.


Thanks to....

  • Mrs Ben Ze’ev for suggesting this partnership

  • The Royal Society for providing funds

  • Dr Suhail Islam (Imperial College London ) for the wheels and the movie

  • My daughter for advice on what I should say and how I should make the slides.


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