The Algae Expert Who Helped Win World War II

One would have thought that the Ministry Of Defense would have known the difference between a cryptogamist and a cryptogramist. Back in World War II, they showed us that they definitely did not, which is why they accidentally recruited scientist Geoffrey Tandy to work at Bletchley Park for the Code Breakers.

Tandy was a cryptogamist which is an expert in algae: all nonflowering plant life. He was an expert in things like seaweeds, mosses, and ferns. He worked at a museum during 1926 to 1939 and his specialty was about algae. The MoD, however, thought he was a cryptogramist which is someone who can break algorithms and decipher secret coded messages. You see at the time they were desperately trying to crack the Germans messages and speed up the victory.

So in 1939 he was enlisted as a volunteer and sent to the center of signals intelligence during the war. The goal? To break the German Naval Enigma machine. Tandy did his best to get up to speed with the skills needed to crack the code, but he was no computer scientist like Alan Turing. Yet despite the mistake, he played a crucial part in cracking the Enigma cipher and help defeat the German.

In 1941 a German U-boat was sunk and many items were recovered by the allied forces: among them were German handbooks, charts, and bigram tables. The bigram tables were used by German officers to read the scrambled messages. The paper was so wet and unreadable that it was feared they were beyond recoverable. Tandy came to the rescue with his many years of museum work. He knew exactly what was needed to dry the paper perfectly and safely because he had spent years drying algae onto herbarium sheets.

A quick call to his old museum to get the supplies needed and Tandy was able to save the day. Bringing to life the secrets held in the wet paper and giving the codebreakers all the clues they needed to crack the cryptic codes. As a result, an algae scientist helped win the war because cracking the enigma code is considered to be one of the events that played a crucial part in ending World War II.

Next Article
  • One Lake In Tanzania Turns Animals Into Statues

    When you turn up on the shoreline of Lake Natron in Tanzania, you may be forgiven for believing to be in a nightmare. All along the shoreline you can find eerie corpses of animals, stiffened corpses all standing like statues. They have been calcified by the water, a group of bats or birds, meeting a...

    Read More
  • The Time Ecuador Voted In A Foot Powder As Mayor

    Over the history of time, there have been some very strange candidates representing political positions all over the world. From mad emperors to strange kings, from animals to insects there have been all sorts representing societies at different times. Though nothing compares to the 1967 mayoral campaign in Ecuador, where a foot powder received enough...

    Read More
  • Before 1935 Toilet Paper Had Splinters

    Yes, your nightmare, toilet paper with splinters, was actually a sold commodity before the 1930s. Imagine going to the toilet, only to have to face a dangerous roll of toilet paper that was planning to stab you the moment you let your guard down. Those splinters would have been extremely painful, that is for sure....

    Read More
  • Melanism Nature’s Incredible Opposite Of Albinism

    Most people have heard of Albinism which is the congenital disorder that is known by the complete or partial absence of any skin pigments. The pigments are often lacking in the skin, hair, and eyes. Normally this results in white hair and pink eyes when it comes to mammals. When it comes to animals it...

    Read More
  • Wolverine Horror Frog Breaks It Own Bones For A Claw

    The hairy frog or the horror frog as eloquently known is not only a strange looking creature in the animal kingdom. It also possesses a trait which as far as everyone knows is completely unique. When under aggression or needing to defend itself from a predator, the hairy frog will break its own toe to...

    Read More
  • So Many People Were Buried Alive A Safety Coffin Was Patented

    During the 17th and 18th century one of the great fears that played in the back of everyone’s mind was the possibility of being buried alive. With sicknesses and diseases often ravaging whole communities, sometimes mistakes were made. It could only take someone falling into a deep fever, with their breathing extremely lowered for them...

    Read More