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Cryptology and Binary Systems

The world of codes, ciphers and cryptology has dominated my thoughts and teaching these past few months between my Escape the Classroom and Breakout games and teaching lessons on binary code. As I researched some ideas to update my binary code lesson, I started to think about other coding systems that use a similiar binary system.

Morse Code with it's dashes and dot and Sir Francis Bacon's biliteral cipher are two of these binary systems. Morse code was created by physicist Samuel Morse in the 1830's for his telegraph system. It is an alphabet or code in which letters are represented by combinations of long and short signals (dashes and dots) of light or sound.The first message "What hath God Wrought" was taken from the Bible: Numbers 23:23, and was recorded on a paper telegraph tape. It was transmitted 40 miles from Washington to Baltimore.

In 1623, Francis Bacon created a cipher system using the techniques of substitution and steganography. Bacon's cipher uses a biliteral substitution alphabet which replaces a character with a group of 5 characters formed with two letters, generally A and B.

Codes and ciphers have a long history in our military story. Code breaking always makes my students think about spies. But, cryptology isn’t just for spies, today, computer program designers, security personnel, high level executives, and business owners all need to understand cryptography to a certain degree. With more and more data hacks, identity theft, and viruses spreading in our technology-dependent culture, great cryptologists are going to be increasingly in demand. While cracking codes and writing secret messages is fun, learning about codes and cryptology is important in today's digital society In our increasingly digital world, we need an increasing about of encryption to keep our data safe.

Teaching students about ciphers and codes builds essential critical thinking and problem solving skills in our 21st century students. Deciphering codes and cryptology as a science, teaches students to look at the whole problem, not just the individual parts. Codes and ciphers are additionally an integrated discipline combining math, science and history. Teaching cryptology teaches patterning to algebraic thinking and other mathematical thinking.

Here are some fantastic ciphers and coding systems to get you started and check out my lesson on binary code.

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