Secret Codes

  • Secret Codes

    There were hackers long before the denial-of-service attack. Life is a script written in carbon and transmitted faithfully between generations—sometimes. Other times, it is hacked by viruses, stolen by bacteria, or mutated by cosmic rays. Join us as we pull back the curtain on nature’s information wars. 

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    The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpson’s Face

    Nine years ago, I was sitting in a college math physics course and my professor spelt out an idea that kind of blew my mind. I think it isn’t a stretch to say that this is one of the most widely applicable mathematical discoveries, with applications ranging from optics to quantum physics, radio astronomy, MP3 […]

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    The Secret Costs of Keeping Secrets

    Sarah Horrigan via Flickr Keeping a secret can be hard work. It may seem relatively easy to avoid mentioning your friend’s surprise birthday party or your co-worker’s recent breakup, but concealing even trivial information, let alone important things, can be exhausting. When keeping a secret, we have to constantly monitor what we say to make […]

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    Hearing Hadrons, and Doing Research by Ear

    Animation of data from collisions at the LHCCERN Several years ago, particle physicist Lily Asquith was hanging out with a few musician pals in London after a band rehearsal, doing impromptu impersonations of what she thought the various elementary particles might sound like, and encouraging the drummer to recreate them electronically. Another band member asked […]

  • 1. EKG. The artist draws at Pandemic gallery, 2013. Courtesy of the gallery.

    Taking the Pulse of the City With Graffiti Artist EKG

    Though New Yorkers are currently chasing down the next piece of Banksy street art, graffiti typically blends into the background. If you’re not a tagger, you most likely are not paying attention to the coded messages embedded in the endless stream of stylized names, faces, animals, and jokes that are constantly thrown up then torn […]

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    Science Gets Down With Miles Davis and Bernini

    Analyzing music and sculpture in the digital age.

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    Can’t Remember Your Password?

    Welcome to subconscious encryption, the ultimate private security.

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    The Menu Says “Snapper.” Really?

    DNA barcodes could keep restaurants honest.

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    Cracking the Social Code

    New approaches are helping autistic people understand “neurotypicals”—and vice versa.

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    The Youngest Code-Makers

    We learn as kids that knowledge is power—secret knowledge even more so.