Spelling out why the WWII “Enigma” machines were considered to be unbreakable… presented by an awkwarldy adorable mathematician

While working on technical things at the ‘puter or offline-within-speaker-range, I like to throw on some audio stories about random subjects that are interesting. It makes me feel like I have a chatty knowledgeable companion in the room who doesn’t mind that I don’t add to the conversation because I’m just so engrossed in work, and they’re totally OK with that.

In a Youtube-lecture-suggested-clickfest, I found a neat one on cryptography that I found particularly creatively explained. Mathematician (and, um, unfortunately employed by the NSA at vid-post time) David Perry explains some of the history and the mathematics behind the Enigma’s cryptology approach, all while awkwardly holding his tie clip to his mouth (and all the technical cringes in effect) but he still manages to keep the crowd at ease and engaged [nerd-alert-aside: this is why we soundcheck!].

Despite these technicalities, he spells out the basic concepts, and lets his audience throw their thoughts his way while he cruises though his points, even admitting that many popular puzzles presented to the public are just not funny and jokes that he uses them as punishment for not paying attention in class (sounds like a tall tale, but yeah, we get it– the puns become easier because of repetition and lazy cryptography, which he does circle back around towards).

It’s light stuff, but I like his conversational and approachable style. He also dug up some interesting rotor diagrams for the Enigma, which are worth a look, especially if you are in wayfinding, design, or engineering–lots of overlaps there.

If you loved this lecture, what are some other online lectures you’ve found that are particularly well done in terms of approachability? Or, are there some neat ones on cryptography worth sharing?