Our last day in the UK we went to Bletchley Park, which was seriously amazing.
Bletchley Park was where the code breakers worked during the second world war. Figuring out how to break the German's codes. Seriously neat. This is a reproduction of a computer - well, officially it isn't a computer it's some kind of electro-magnetic device, but it works like an extremely basic computer to eliminate impossible options for the codes.
Have you seen the movie, The Enigma, was made back in 2001, never heard of it myself until I went there, but the Germans had an encoder called the Enigma, all quite complicated, and it would be a long and slightly dull post if I tried to explain it, as I don't understand it well enough to explain it elegantly. ANYWAY, around 9000 people worked at Bletchley Park during the war, one of the major centers for military intelligence spying!!!!
After HP and the fight against evil, we had the fight against Hitler the next day. Rather fitting in it's own way.
Here's is a model of one of the machines they used, as mentioned above.
The German't enigma machine below.
Alan Turing was involved in the project and a key designer of the system that broke the code. An amazing man, he was a brilliant mathematician, the father of Artificial Intelligence, created what is now called the Turing test, a wildly successful crypotologist, rowed for Cambridge where he worked, an accomplished long distance runner - indeed, on occasion he would run the 68K into London if he had a meeting of some kind.
Handsome too, as Youngest put it, he got the front of the line on every ability. He was also gay was tried and charged for 'gross indecency' by the British Gov't at that time. His punishment was either prison or 'chemical castrastion' with female hormones. He committed suicide two years later.
Below is the official letter of apology from the gov't of the UK. From 2009. Seems to me a wee bit late, but good to have still. You should be able to read these things if you click on them.
We took a tour of Bletchley house proper, it had been a home farm with a good mansion'y kind of pile on it, lots of wood and decorations, like this ceiling.
The view from the loo.
Someone had a sense of humour in the boat model section. Here we have a double scull.
and a rowing eight.
There was also an exhibition about the use of passenger pigeons in the war to send messages. The trick of course was to send the pigeons out to the men and women in enemy territory. So some of them were parachuted out in contraptions like this one.
Honestly, it was astonishing, and if you ever go, do take the tours, they are free and they tell you a MOUNTAIN of wonderful information.
Very very very cool.