Richard Bean, who recently broke two well-known cryptograms, has received lots of media coverage in Australia. Especially, a few radio interviews he gave are worth listening.

As readers of this blog will know, Richard Bean from Australia recently deciphered two of the most famous unsolved cryptograms:

  • In early August, Richard broke the last of over a thousand encrypted messages left behind by IRA (Irish Repuclican Army) activist Moss Twomey (1897-1978).
  • Only a week later, Richard solved the second cryptogram of parapsychologist Robert Thouless from 1948. This put an end to Thouless’ plan to prove that there is a life after death by sending an encryption key from the beyond.

After these great successes, I sent a number of emails to newspapers and radio stations in the Brisbane area and informed them about Richard’s work. To my regret, there was no reaction.

Apparently, Richard’s employer, the University of Queensland, had a similar idea. After Richard’s first codebreaking stunt, they published a press release titled UQ data scientist cracks near century old crypto-code. To my dismay, this text doesn’t mention my blog, although it was the only place where details of the solution were available.

At least, the press photo the University of Queensland published together with the release …

University of Queensland press picture

… shows my blog on a monitor, including the “solved” visual …

Public domain

… I made for my article about the IRA cryptogram. This photograph is the same as the one shown on Richard’s University of Queensland page. I don’t know if this picture was taken in the last two weeks or if the press department photoshopped a screenshot from my blog onto it.

The press release mentions Jim Gillogly, who first published the unsolved IRA cryptogram in his book Decoding The IRA (co-written with tom Mahon), and Israeli master-codebreaker George Lasry. Both are readers of this blog.

Based on the university’s press release, the Bisbane Times published a nice article about Richard’s breaking of the IRA cryptogram.

Brisbane Times

Even better, the radio station 4BC aired an interview with Richard, which is availble on their website. It is absolutely worth listening.

After I had found these two press reports via Google News, Richard informed me about a few more:

  • The radio station 3AW featured the story in their program Breakfast with Ross and John.
  • Here are two more interviews Richard gave. The first one is about the IRA, the second (it starts after the end of the first) about Thouless.
  • There was another interview on 6PR radio (about the Thouless cryptogram), but there seems to be no online link.
  • Richard wrote an article for The Conversation about the Thouless cryptogram, targeted at high school students. The same report is available on the ABC website. Thankfully, Richard included a few links to my blog for more technical explanation.

As it seems, Richard has become a media star in his home country. It’s great to see that cryptography is receiving so much media coverage. Richard does a very good job in explaining how he solved the two cryptograms and how codebreaking works in general.

Although my blog was not mentioned in the university’s press release, it has received many page hits in the last three weeks. Thanks to Richard for mentioning it.

Further reading: A beautiful encrypted postcard from Australia


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Kommentare (3)

  1. #1 Richard Bean
    31. August 2019

    Thanks Klaus!
    I put the 6PR interview at … I mentioned the Somerton Man there too; although, of course, the real code was found in the Rubaiyat book.
    Yes, the photo was taken recently for the UQ News article.
    Each time I went on a different radio station, I checked the ratings – it seems they were all most popular with the 55+ demographic. So it was good I got an article in the Conversation, because the idea there is to reach high school students instead.

  2. #2 Klaus Schmeh
    31. August 2019

    Dave Howe via LinkedIn:
    Nice to see cryptanalysis getting its five minutes of fame 🙂

  3. #3 George Lasry
    1. September 2019

    Congratulations, Richard, for the awesome solutions and the press exposure.

    I was also happy to hear in one of the broadcasts that you are mentioning the Vatican ciphers as your next challenges. Good luck and let me know if I can be of any help.