The National Lottery has awarded Bletchley Park -- the site of the invention of modern cryptography and a key piece of computer history -- a £460,500 grant as a start on the £10m worth of desperately needed preservation spending. There's some indication that they'll come up with more money in the future, too.
Don't get me wrong, I'm overjoyed to see Bletchley saved from ruin, but isn't it kind of ironic that the funding to preserve the institute that demonstrated, once and for all, the power of randomness and the dangers of statistical innumeracy is coming from a state-sponsored scam that preys on innumeracy and bad intuition about randomness? I suspect that Turing and co would have sensibly looked at the lotto and said, "Pssht, I have a higher chance of dying before the balls are drawn than I have of winning the jackpot. No thanks."
The grant, announced today, is worth £460,500 - a fraction of the £10m it will take to convert Bletchley Park into a world-class heritage site but it will allow the trust to draw up a detailed plan and go back for more. Combined with other money coming in, including grants from English Heritage and Milton Keynes Council, it should be enough to save Bletchley's famous out-buildings.
Hut 6 at Bletchley Park, where a team of brilliant mathematicians and linguists decoded messages sent by Hitler to his generals, is scandalously dilapidated. Its wooden walls and roof are literally rotting away. It was in this hut that messages brought in by bike messengers from listening stations all over Britain were decoded into German. They were then passed to Hut 3, for translation and analysis.
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