Just in case you didn't get enough of the American Civil War earlier today:
A message in a bottle delivered to a Confederate general during the American Civil War has been deciphered, 147 years after it was written. In the encrypted message, a commander tells Gen John Pemberton that no reinforcements are available to help him defend Vicksburg, Mississippi. "You can expect no help from this side of the river," says the message, which was deciphered by codebreakers. The text is dated 4 July 1863 - the day Vicksburg fell to Union forces.
So, a bit late.
The code was actually fairly easy to crack—a retired CIA codebreaker did it in a just a few weeks earlier this year. So why wasn't it deciphered sooner? Turns out, the message sat, for more than 110 years, in a jar, in the Museum of the Confederacy. Only in 2010 did museum officials decide to take the message out of the jar and see what it said.
(Via Marilyn Terrell)
Maggie Koerth-Baker is the science editor at BoingBoing.net. She writes a monthly column for The New York Times Magazine and is the author of Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure, and the future of energy. You can find Maggie on Twitter and Facebook.