Nothing is as it seems - at least not at first glance. HFT professors Prof. Dr. Annegret Weng and Prof. Dr. Harald Bauer went on two virtual mystery hunts at this year's edition of the traditional children's Easter lecture.
Some things had to be different this time due to Corona, but the most important thing remained unchanged this year: the fascination of what you can do with science - in this case mathematics. The two HFT professors Annegret Weng and Harald Bauer invited the children to decode secret messages together on Friday and Saturday - and a good 40 children each went on an exciting journey of discovery with the two scientists via video conference.
After a brief technical introduction, they got started. "Cipher writing is as old as writing itself," the children learned from Annegret Weng. Early on, not everyone was supposed to be able to read everything, and so messengers set off with coded messages in their luggage. The participants of the children's lectures also received mail from the HFT Stuttgart in advance. In addition to work materials for decoding messages, each envelope contained a mysterious letter.
Over the next hour and a half, the young researchers worked together to decipher the encrypted message - and learned many exciting details about the world of cryptography. For example, the Americans used the Navajo language to encrypt military messages because it bore no resemblance to familiar European languages. But that was not all: those who listened attentively even knew after the lecture how heavy our earth is.
When the mysterious letter was decoded at the end of the lecture ("You will find the treasure of mathematics in building one on the second floor in the locker with the number thirty-two"), two HFT employees took the participants with the live camera to dig up the treasure. Due to the virtuality of the lecture, the silver coins found could not be shared afterwards. As a consolation, each of the young researchers had been sent a secret pencil in advance, which they could then use to delve deeper into the topic of the lecture.
That's why - and because it's best to do it together on site - the next children's lecture as part of the Stuttgart Science Festival will take place again on July 1 in Presence.