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Mathematics Goes to the Movies

by Burkard Polster and Marty Ross


A Man Called Intrepid (1979)

The Czech resistance have started a series of hit and run attacks on German convoys.
To what end?
Well to the end that with so many random attacks they won’t get suspicious about the one that really matters.
What will this particular convoy carry?
Oh, the enigma cipher machine.
Oh, you know about it.
Yes, we used these in the 20s in my company.
That’s the commercial model. There is a military version going into high production in Czechoslovakia. More complex, more sophisticated. Now the Germans will be basing their military codes and communications on the Enigma code. We want to get one of these.That’s it. The Enigma cipher machine. Cost a man’s life to obtain it.
I know. Let’s see whether I can remember how the first line works on this thing. You take down that letters that come out here and I press the buttons (typing away). Now, read that out. Well, it’s gibberish.
Right. Put the gibberish there. I will type out the gibberish, and you take down the latters that come out there. To break the German code without the use of one of these things. They said, at the rate of one computation a minute, at least three thousand years. Now,
Text reads: Wrong member of that family in control.