England-2011-bletchley

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Bletchley Park, Saturday 2 April 2011

Travel

We'll be taking the train from Euston station at 9:13, plan to be there by 8:45 at the latest. There is a WHSmith bookshop inside the station, we'll gather outside it before heading to the platform. Don't forget to check the TFL's weekend closures list ahead of time to make sure you know the route to take on Saturday morning.

For the return journey we'll probably catch the 15:26 from Bletchley which will return us to Euston at 16:18.

Preparation

Read the following specified chunks about Bletchley Park, Alan Touring, and the Enigma machine (if you haven't already):

  1. Wikipedia page for Bletchley Park: Introduction, Wartime history, Cryptanalysis
  2. Wikipedia page for Alan Turing: Introduction, Childhood and youth, Cryptanalysis
  3. Wikipedia page for Enigma Machine: Introduction

For each of these Introduction refers to the section that comes before the Contents section. You are welcome to read more than these chunks but you must read at least these chunks before Saturday morning.

Plan

Once we're there and have secured tickets, etc. we will be part of the first tour. This covers about 1 mile and 1.5 hours, please remember to wear comfortable shoes!

In addition to all the WWII history, cryptology, and computer science at Bletchley Park there is also a beautiful manor house and lovely grounds. For lunch we'll picnic together, after that you'll have a couple of hours to explore on your own before we head back to the train station together.

Science, Technology and Society

There is an almost overwhelming amount of science and technology at Bletchley Park. Alan Turing was largely responsible for much of the theoretical underpinnings of computer science, and played a large part in the design and implementation of some of the first modern digital computer systems. The work performed at Bletchley Park during WWII was one of the earliest significant applications of technology to solve a societal problem, one which in all likelihood could not have been solved otherwise.

While there is no specific assignment for the class at Bletchley Park I do want you to reflect on what you have read and learned beforehand while touring the exhibits, ask me questions, ask the tour guide questions, and generally immerse yourself in the history that's there. It's one thing to learn about something, it can be quite another to learn about it where it actually happened, standing in the very buildings and walking on the same paths as Pat Green, Alan Turing and many others.

Blogger and Photographer

We will need two volunteers from the studio audience to take pictures and write-up/post a blog entry about this excursion. Get in touch if you are interested. In order to spur interest in these positions I'm offering 5 bonus points if you take on one of these tasks.

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