A Level students enjoy an epic tale of man against machine

On Tuesday 6th March, Callywith students had the exciting opportunity to experience an epic tale of man against machine and explore the secret world of codes and codebreaking with mathematician Dr James Grime.

Callywith Maths Lecturer Garry Hitchens, Callywith A Level students and Dr James Grime with the original WWII Enigma Machine

During the day of captivating lectures, workshops and demonstrations, Dr Grime revealed the history of codes, demonstrated methods of codebreaking, and spoke of stories of Greeks tattooing messages onto the shaved heads of their slaves and Julius Caesar’s ‘Caesar shift’ method of coding.

Callywith Maths, ICT, Computer Science, Games Design and Physics students had the opportunity to participate throughout the day including cracking a number of different codes and attempting to converse with Dr Grime without using the letter ‘e’.

Dr James Grime also gave a demonstration of the original WWII Enigma Machine - illuminating the brilliant mathematical insights and innovative thinking of Alan Turing and telling the story of how mathematicians cracked the war time code.

Known as one of the 20th Century’s greatest mathematicians, Turing was a pioneer of computer science who is best remembered for his role in breaking the Enigma, the purportedly unbreakable code used by the German military.

Callywith Principal Mark Wardle commented:

“This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to gain an insight into the applications of mathematics and to see the opportunities beyond their A Level study. It was of particular interest to many students who wanted to discover more about the great mathematician after seeing the film ‘The Imitation Game.’ It was also great to welcome members of the public into the college for our first public lecture. The event was arranged through the Truro and Penwith Mathematics Hub, one of only 32 Government designated nationally, which requires the colleges to share its expertise and to support the development of mathematics in schools and colleges across Devon and Cornwall.”

A Level Maths student Ehlana said: “I thought the lectures we participated in were very informative and it was really enjoyable to be able to have a go at breaking our own codes! I also thought it was very interesting to discover more abstract jobs in which maths is involved in.”

Dr James Grime reveals the history of codes and demonstrates codebreaking with Callywith A Level students

The College also held its first successful free public lecture with Dr James Grime and a demonstration with the Enigma Machine on the same evening, with spaces being fully booked within the first week of releasing tickets.

The fully booked 'Alan Turing and the Enigma Machine' free public lecture

Karen Pusey, who attended the public lecture said: “We had a lovely, entertaining and educational evening. We went as a family and spent the journey home talking about what we had heard and seen...and not a mobile phone in sight!”