Today I Learned …

A typo helped the Allied forces crack the famous Enigma code and ultimately defeat the Germans in World War Two. The UK Ministry of Defense recruited Geoffrey Tandy to work at its top-secret Bletchley Park headquarters in Buckinghamshire, England, in the belief that he was an expert cryptogramist — someone who deciphers codes — when in fact he was a cryptogamist, an expert on mosses, algae, and seaweed. Despite the mistake, he stayed, and when a German U-boat was sunk in 1941 and its cryptic documents captured, his knowledge of preserving water-damaged specimens proved invaluable in making the papers readable. (From Ripley’s Believe It Or Not: Beyond the Bizarre)

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