Elliptic trapdoors

Elliptic curves are amongst a family of curves that make up the alluring surfaces of much contemporary organically-inspired architecture. They are also the basis of encryption methods that secure digital communications. A trapdoor is a one-way portal. You can go through it easily in one direction, but it’s difficult to come out again in the…More

RSA public key encryption

I’m continuing this dive into public-private key encryption. As outlined in a helpful blog post by Nick Sullivan, the kind of encryption I described in the last two posts relies on a simple property of numbers. It’s easy to multiply two numbers, even if very large, but more difficult to factor a number, i.e. find…More

Asymmetric key encryption

An encryption key is a string of characters that you feed into an encryption algorithm to either encrypt or decrypt a message. An asymmetric key system has two keys. There’s a public key to encrypt a message. It’s public because anyone can see it and use that key. But once the message is encrypted using…More


Some secure encryption methods make use of prime numbers. I’ll examine the method in the next post, but here’s some properties of primes relevant to encryption, presented via simple grid geometry. Hopefully that connects this esoteric field with spatial shapes such as rectangular rooms on a gridded plan. Composites A composite number is a positive…More


A Shibboleth is a kind of pronunciation test. You can tell where someone is from, or not from, by asking them to say a particular word. It can also indicate where someone has been. I can tell with a degree of certainty if someone has been to Australia by the way they say “Melbourne.” If…More

Cryptography for space aliens

“Anticryptography” is a loose term to designate a type of cryptographic message that is legible to someone who has no knowledge of the plain text language from which the message derives. Nor do they have access to the method of encryption, or anything like an encryption or decryption key. Nor is the message meant to…More

Quantum Internet

Quantum computers can potentially remove the need to iterate through the huge numbers of combinations required to crack a code, reconstruct an original source document from a hash string or derive the key used to encrypt a file.More

How architecture keeps its secrets

Here’s a basic application of the containment principle. If you put something into a cardboard box and close the lid then it’s concealed from view. Buildings also conceal things. I discussed the house-museum of the architect John Soane in a previous post. Soane was a practitioner within a secret society (Freemasonry), which in turn traded in…More

Seven secrets

Architecture has even more in common with the theory and practice of secret-keeping than do secret societies. I would add the offer of crypts, basements, darkened rooms and cupboards to the reasons secret societies gravitate towards architecture: its histories and theories, functions, types and symbols. I’ve started reading (listening to) Dan Brown’s novel The Lost…More

Secret society

There exists a secret society, custodian of the theory and practice of secrets. Its adherents embrace the systematic invention, application and promotion of codes and ciphers. As it includes architects and mathematicians amongst its adherents, this society preserves and embeds arts of semiotics, geometry, combinatorics, indices, logics, riddles, paradoxes, and mechanisms to examine the arts…More