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The University of Southampton

Cracking the cipher challenge - best selling author visits University

Published: 6 February 2002

Code breaking and encryption are hot topics at the moment, not least because of Simon Singh's best-seller The Code Book.

As part of the Golden Jubilee Lecture Series, Simon Singh will be giving an open lecture at the University next month, organized by the Faculty of Mathematical Studies, entitled 'Cracking the Cipher Challenge'. The lecture will also feature a genuine Enigma machine.

The Code Book, a history of cryptography, included a series of 10 encoded messages, each from a different period of history, with a prize of £10,000 being offered to the first person who cracked all the codes. Now that the prize has been won, Simon will reveal the story behind the book's Cipher Challenge. Along the way he will show how mathematics can be used to crack codes, how it helped win World War Two, and how it continues to help guarantee security in the Information Age.

The lecture 'Cracking the Cipher Challenge' takes place on Monday 25 March at 7.30 pm in Lecture Theatre A in the Physics Building, on the Highfield Campus. Admission to the lecture is free, and tickets are available on application to Katherine Glover 023 8059 5149, email, or from the University Waterstones Bookshop.

Notes for editors

  1. A digital image of Simon Singh is available. Contact Joyce Lewis (023 8059 2116; email
  2. Simon Singh has a distinguished background in science and in science journalism. He completed his PhD in particle physics at Cambridge and CERN, joining the BBC Science Department in 1991, where he worked as a producer and director with Tomorrow's World and Horizon. His best-selling book on cryptography has led to him presenting a Channel 4 series on the history of codes and codebreaking entitled The Science of Secrecy. Simon Singh's previous book, Fermat's Last Theorem, was also a best-seller, which focused on the proof of one of the great mathematical theorems by British mathematician, Andrew Wiles.
  3. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton.
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