Posts Tagged ‘Experiment’

The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: Jefferson Disk

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Writing The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, I had to do a lot of research, not just into the different species of shifters that would appear in the book, but also on other rather mysterious topics. One of those topics was ciphers.

The Jefferson disk, or wheel cipher as the inventor, Thomas Jefferson named it in 1795, is also known as the Bazeries Cylinder. It’s a cipher system, or code system, using a set of wheels or disk, each with the 26 letters of the alphabet arranged around the edge.

The order of letters is different for each disk, scrambled randomly. Each disk has an unique number and a hole in its center that allows it to be stacked on an axle. The disks can be moved on the axle in any order desired, and can also be removed. The order of the disks is known as the cipher key.

The Jefferson disk had 36 disks that could spell a message. The disks are placed on the axle, and then the sender rotates each disk up and down until a message is spelled out on a row. For example, one row could spell out: The murderer is Mr. X.

Then, the sender would have to look at one of the other rows, which will contain a message that is complete gibberish. He copies down this message, and gives it to the recipient, the person who he wants to break the code.

The recipient then rotate the disks until they spell out the encrypted message on one row, the gibberish message, and then looks through all the rows until he finds the plaintext message: The murderer is Mr. X.

Pretty cool, eh?

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The Adventures of Marisol Holmes: Invisible Ink

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Writing The Adventures of Marisol Holmes, I had to do a lot of research, not just into the different species of shifters that would appear in the book, but also on other rather mysterious topics. One of those topics was invisible ink.

One of the earliest writers who ever mentioned invisible ink is Aeneas Tacticus, in the fourth century BCE. Invisible ink has been used for centuries, and was particularly popular in the Roman Empire and 16th century Europe.

Invisible ink can be applied on a writing surface in many different ways, sometimes even just by dipping a finger in the liquid. Once dry, the written surface will look blank, and otherwise perfectly similar as how it would look prior to being written on. The ink can then later be made visibile using different methods, depending on the type of ink used.

One of the most common ways to display invisible ink is by viewing it under ultraviolet light, by applying the appropriate chemical, or even just by putting it under a heat source. Whoever thinks you need a complicated chemical balance to create invisible ink, would be very wrong. Some organic substances oxidize when heated which turns them brown. You can even try this at home.

Any acidic fluid will work for this drink, but some suggestions are coca cola, honey solution, sugar solution, lemon / apple / organge or onion juice, wine, or even milk.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to make invisible ink using lemon juice:

  • Use the juice as ink by applying it to a stick or paintbrush, and then writing on paper.
  • Wait for the paper to dry.
  • When you’re ready to read your invisible message, hold the paper up to a lightbulb or another heat source.
  • The heat will cause the writing to darken to a pale brown.
  • You can now read your message!

Give it a try, and feel free to email me a picture of your invisible ink experiment.

 

 

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