You think when you end up at University, that it’s finally the end of those school trips to the local park or to see the amateur dramatics society for the umpteenth time. But luckily enough for all the budding Maths students out there, the highlight of first year is the annual jaunt to the ACTUAL Bletchley Park! As part of the “Mathematics and Society” module, we are encouraged to consider the significance surrounding the ideas of Maths and see what a fundamental, and often undervalued, role it plays in the real world. Just so you know, I’m not talking about whether Domino’s Two for Tuesday is a good deal or if Orange Wednesday is worth it (#ThrowbackThursday).
Under the guidance of the revered Dr Clive Rix, we spent the coach journey there discussing the origins of some of the most important theories and how these consequences are guiding us in the shaping of the world as we know it…AND to make you even more jealous, the final filming was taking place for the Alan Turing biopic, so we were all hoping for that perfect picture with Cumberbatch! (I know this is really irrelevant, but Milton Keynes has far too many roundabouts…there, I said it!)
As the day progressed, we all “tried” to understand the basic concept behind creating the code breaking machines, such as Colossus, and we learnt that after setting up each machine with its rotor and plugboard settings, there were a possible 158 million million million combinations! Talk about trial and error…
Fortunately due the brilliance of Alan Turing and his colleagues, they were able to find repeating patterns in the messages and began to crack the Enigma code. Their efforts were crucial in uncovering the enemies military strategies and plans of attack, which ultimately helped the allied forces prevail in the war. However, the greatness of the Bletchley Park triumphs only further remind us of the tragic and shameful events that would befall Alan Turing and his deserved acknowledgements would come to late.
On a brighter note, the trip is definitely a must in first year, not only to help with your understanding of the module but to realise the impact of studying such a great subject. If you have any questions about the day or just first year in general, feel free to leave a comment or click the link to the Bletchley Park website below:
(P.S. We didn’t get to see Benedict in the end but I thought I saw his car leaving, so I’ll take it)