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View Full Version : German amateur cracks WWII mega-code in 46 seconds



Pirschjaeger
11-17-2007, 04:40 AM
By Luke Baker
Fri Nov 16, 7:54 AM ET



British computer experts acknowledged defeat on Friday after a German amateur radio enthusiast won a challenge to crack secret messages encoded by a World War Two cipher.

Joachim Schueth, from the German city of Bonn, managed to intercept a special radio transmission and decipher a super-complex code in less than two hours using software he wrote for the challenge.

Britain's Colossus computer, built in the 1940s to break secret German transmissions during the war and painstakingly rebuilt over the past 14 years, was still racing through its computations to come up with a solution.

Schueth's computer program actually managed to crack the hardest part of the challenge -- deciphering the code of a Lorenz SZ42 encryptor, which has approximately 16 million million million permutations -- in just 46 seconds.

"It's a brilliant piece of work, really really impressive," said Andrew Clark, director of Britain's National Museum of Computing, which designed the challenge and is overseeing the running of Colossus, based at Bletchley Park outside London.

"He's used a program that is highly optimized for this task and he's designed it very well.

"We're really pleased and very impressed. It highlights the strength of the international community working together."

Schueth was not immediately reachable for comment, but on his Web site he explained in a very low-key way how he had gone about defeating a machine that in its day was the most powerful calculator in the world and the forerunner of modern computing.

"Putting Colossus in a competition with modern computers may be a bit unfair," he wrote.

"Colossus was an ingenious construction and a landmark in the history of computing. But technology has very much evolved since: When fed with a usable ciphertext, the quick-setting program ... found the setting of all 12 wheels within 46 seconds."

The Lorenz cipher is based on wheels that can have an almost infinite range of settings.

Colossus, a truck-sized computer built in 1943-4 with the help of mathematicians such as Enigma code breaker Alan Turing, has worked out five of the wheel settings so far and is expected to complete the task in about six hours.

Clark was full of praise for Schueth, who German scientists who helped design the challenge said they had never heard of. He hopes Schueth will visit Bletchley Park to receive a reward.

Colossus was a top-secret project during World War Two -- it only came to light in the 1970s -- that helped crack secret German commands on troop movements and supplies. Winston Churchill, Britain's war-time prime minister, credited it with helping to shorten the war by up to 18 months.

(Editing by Elizabeth Piper)

MEGILE
11-17-2007, 04:45 AM
Dam ze germans.

still trying to rule the world!

good show old chap.

mortoma
11-17-2007, 08:21 AM
Fascinating

stalkervision
11-17-2007, 09:42 AM
I have always been big into codes after I read "the Code Breakers" by David Kahn, It's a great read btw..

DuxCorvan
11-17-2007, 10:52 AM
What a nerd. Let's shut him in his locker.

AVG_WarHawk
11-17-2007, 11:25 AM
Originally posted by DuxCorvan:
What a nerd. Let's shut him in his locker.

Yes! LMAO, Gotta luv it http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

leitmotiv
11-17-2007, 02:57 PM
Hardly a feat. Optimized modern domestic computers are computational beasts compared to WWII-era computers.

stalkervision
11-17-2007, 03:00 PM
very true.. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

HuninMunin
11-17-2007, 03:17 PM
And that is exactly what the questioned gentleman pointed out.

Insuber
11-17-2007, 03:19 PM
Brilliant. OK for the computational power, but still you have to write an effective code. It's amatter of intelligence, not brute force.

Regards,
Insuber

cawimmer430
11-17-2007, 06:12 PM
Originally posted by Megile:
Dam ze germans.

still trying to rule the world!

good show old chap.

GERMAN ENGINEERING. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_razz.gif

stalkervision
11-17-2007, 06:40 PM
Then how about THIS! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_razz.gif http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

The German Poo-Shelf Toilet

http://www.banterist.com/archivefiles/images/germantoilet.jpg

Next to the infamous Squat-hole toilets of Asia and southern France, the German Poo-Shelf Toilet is undoubtedly one of the least pleasant methods of waste removal - assuming you're like most folks and don't feel the need to get to know your waste. It finds itself here in western Poland because this region was once part of Germany until the Germans got all riled up and tried to take over the world. They're better now, but the legacy of their doody-tech remains.

The Poo-Shelf comes from a period in German history when Germans were less interested in world domination and apparently more interested in spending quality time with their feces. That, or they were prone to accidentally eating their wedding rings and needed a toilet that allowed them to conveniently rummage through their dung before dispatching it to the abyss. Those must have been fascinating times and I'm quite glad I wasn't born in them.

I don't know how many such devices are in existence. Perhaps they're quite rare and I was simply lucky to stumble upon such a specimen. All I know is that upon encountering the German Poo-Shelf Toilet, one is forced to solemnly contemplate the reason such a horrible mechanism exists, and what demon designed such a thing.

Rather than whisking your waste away, the GPST simply lets it sit there, mere centimeters from your rump, so that you might think about the brief time you had together. When you're done reminiscing - or when the odor of a pile of poop begins to negatively affect the ambiance of your bathroom - you simply pull up on the flushing mechanism to send your creation on to the Great Beyond. However, if the flushing mechanism doesn't work - well, you're on your own with a shelf full of poo and a toilet designed so as to render the plunger useless. Good luck and God bless.

It should also be noted that any gentleman who chooses to stand up and use the German Poo-Shelf Toilet for the purpose of bladder-emptying can be expected to enjoy as much splash-back as one might get from say, peeing on a coffee table. The toilet, in all aspects aside from cigarette butt and chewing gum disposal, is utterly useless.

Those who believe in intelligent life in outer space often say that any culture advanced enough to achieve space travel would probably not make themselves known to us until we too have reached a certain level of civilization. I take that to mean the elimination of war, and every German Poo Shelf toilet currently in existence. Although stopping warfare is a tall order at the moment, I encourage every able-bodied soul to grab a sledgehammer, get to Germany, and start swinging

Ratsack
11-17-2007, 07:06 PM
You dumbkopf! You vere zee wrong vay ge-facingk!!

Ratsack

Pirschjaeger
11-17-2007, 07:19 PM
Regarding the display shelf, yes I fn hate that. It was design at a time when people needed to keep a close eye on their waste for hygienic reasons, but it hasn't been necessary for years.

When I buy a house in Germany, if it has display shelf toilet, changing it will be high on my priorities, probably before I even move in.

But it's only fair to point out that I haven't seen one of these "wonders of technologies" in new homes.

They are disgusting, to say the least.

Fritz

stalkervision
11-17-2007, 07:20 PM
I almost crapped my pants I laughed so hard reading that other post. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif Good thing I don't have a GPST to depend on! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

stalkervision
11-17-2007, 07:27 PM
Originally posted by Pirschjaeger:
Regarding the display shelf, yes I fn hate that. It was design at a time when people needed to keep a close eye on their waste for hygienic reasons, but it hasn't been necessary for years.

When I buy a house in Germany, if it has display shelf toilet, changing it will be high on my priorities, probably before I even move in.

But it's only fair to point out that I haven't seen one of these "wonders of technologies" in new homes.

They are disgusting, to say the least.

Fritz

This has got to be the funniest thing I have read in a long time though. Here in America we have the dreaded "low flush toilet" but that can't even come close to compare to this invention.. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif I think the "LFT" was a Canadian invention and we blame them for everything else so why not toilets too! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Give me our good old fashion public Boeing Jet Turbine Toilets anyday. The sound can literally drowned out a 747 at the airport and the flushing power could swallow a big fat house cat whole without even a meow! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/clap.gif This is what made america great! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/11.gif

buzzsaw1939
11-17-2007, 07:54 PM
I wonder if the inventer got splashed one too many times! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Schwarz.13
11-17-2007, 08:28 PM
I love this forum - in less than a page, a thread about code-breaking has become a discussion on 'display-shelf' crappers! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

stalkervision
11-17-2007, 10:29 PM
That's because the original thread "crapped out" after just a few posts.. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

KIMURA
11-18-2007, 07:36 AM
Originally posted by Megile:
Dam ze germans.

still trying to rule the world!

good show old chap.

Why U write they're "trying"? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/59.gif

Pirschjaeger
11-18-2007, 07:56 AM
I found this WW2 code cracking interesting considering how people tend to see us today as being much more technically developed.

Sure, today's home pc can run circles around the enigma machine of WW2, or even Colossus at Benchly, but that wasn't the point of posting this article.

Today we celebrate a man who had the mental capacity, knowledge, and incite needed to crack a 70 year old technology.

What does that say about our perception of the people 70 years ago?

70 years ago people were creating new technologies rather than improving on old ones as we tend to do today.

Fritz

buzzsaw1939
11-18-2007, 08:30 AM
I agree.. I't seems today, it's all about the race for the money!!

ZappaTime
11-18-2007, 08:40 AM
..........and that was design 'no. 2', apparently. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/winky.gif

KIMURA
11-18-2007, 08:44 AM
Originally posted by Pirschjaeger:
70 years ago people were creating new technologies rather than improving on old ones as we tend to do today.
Fritz

Not agree on that. Tell me which of those old technologies were in your mind? To every posted old technology by you some of us can easy post some brand new techs which grew up the last 40 years.

I would also differ from techologies that's in somebody's mind and a technology that's introduced into production line due to new production abilities.

Pirschjaeger
11-18-2007, 09:03 AM
See this is a bit of a problem I have, identifying new technologies from newly improved.

They say "necessity is the mother of invention" but I think whomever said that wasn't thinking to hard. I'd rephrase it as "desperation is the mother of invention".

Now, if you think "per capita" relative to information resources, general education, population (inventions per 10,000 people) keeping in consideration the situations of 70 years ago(WW2 and survival), I'd tend to agree with Buzzsaw that it's much more about money.

It seems logical that we are not developing and inventing as much today in our relatively peaceful times as we were 70 years ago when survival was the thought of the day. I think that during WW2, we had more original ideas per capita than what we have now.

I submit German toilets as exhibit A. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

Fritz

Viper2005_
11-18-2007, 09:40 AM
Considering the implications of Moore's law, 46 seconds is a very long time.

Colossus represents 1944 technology.

Working backwards:

((2007-1944)/2) = 31.5

2^31.5 ~ 3*10^9

46 seconds * 3*10^9 ~ 4400 years.

Colossus managed to do the job in 4 hours 20 minutes.

Alternatively, working forwards:

4.33 hours = 15600 seconds

15600/2^31.5 ~ 5*10^-6 seconds.

Colossus was remarkably quick for its time.