Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The History of Invisible Ink

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the lightbulbs-and-cabbage-juice dept.

Security 41

As a kid I had a minor obsession with invisible ink after learning about it in a science club. An impressive stack of vinegar and lemon scented papers filled my desk, but the history of invisible ink is much more interesting than a summer enrichment program. Starting with the Roman general Pliny the Elder using milk from the thithymallus plant, to modern inks which are only visible under UV light, the science of invisible ink has grown quite complex. Some of the oldest CIA documents contain recipes for special inks, and MI6 and their very own "adult" mixture during WW1.

cancel ×

41 comments

Cumming? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36999920)

That's really his name?

Re:Cumming? (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#36999944)

That could be the last name of the next Bond girl, and then anyone who giggles can be told "Hey don't laugh, that's a real name!"

Re:Cumming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37000080)

There's already been someone in a Bond movie named Cumming. Unfortunately, it was this guy [imdb.com] ...

Re:Cumming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37000658)

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1579753/

Re:Cumming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36999964)

Yes. And he could sign his name in invisible ink from three yards away, on a good day.

Re:Cumming? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000870)

There's also a city/town near where I live called Cumming. Yea. The road signs say "Cumming, next exit".

Re:Cumming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37025354)

What's so funny about Man Cumming? I have a vewy gweat fwiend in London called Man Cumming.

Mansfield Cumming (1)

Paul Rose (771894) | more than 2 years ago | (#36999952)

Couldn't have asked for a better name...

From the last link:

Mansfield Cumming, ... was "making enquiries for invisible inks at the London University".

In October he noted that he "heard from C that the best invisible ink is semen", which did not react to the main methods of detection. Furthermore it had the advantage of being readily available

Re:Mansfield Cumming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37000204)

Followed closely by Frank Stagg.

"A member of staff close to 'C', Frank Stagg, said that he would never forget his bosses' delight when the Deputy Chief Censor said one day that one of his staff had found out that 'semen would not react to iodine vapour'."

Wow, just wow.

Re:Mansfield Cumming (2)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000282)

Oh, it gets better... next two paragraphs:

However, the discovery also led to some further problems, with the agent who had identified the novel use having to be moved from his department after becoming the butt of jokes.

In addition, at least one agent had to be reminded to use only fresh supplies of the 'ink' when correspondents began noticing an unusual smell.

jizz not the best (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000026)

Dried semen shows under two well known "development" methods, both heat and UV. Better to use "ink" that only show under uncommon reagent, but that user would be reasonably expected to possess for another use.

Re:jizz not the best (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000294)

Better to use "ink" that only show under uncommon reagent, but that user would be reasonably expected to possess for another use.

But any other "ink" wouldn't be nearly us fun to obtain, especially for the female agents.

Re:jizz not the best (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000332)

The female agents also have a UV detected invisible ink source that responds to self-pleasure. Actually, the ink from that source may not be invisible for 3-7 days a month.

Re:jizz not the best (2)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000486)

If they had the DNA technology they have today, it could also have functioned as a chemical signature for authentication: "Yep, we tested it, the message is from Agent XYZ alright".

But then,I don't think I'd want my DNA in the hands of the enemy, should security be compromised.

Re:jizz not the best (1)

Trebawa (1461025) | more than 2 years ago | (#37001666)

You'd want to use something that functions as a hash of DNA. Some protein that's reasonably unique.

Re:jizz not the best (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#37003900)

Wouldn't that be just half of the DNA?

Re:jizz not the best (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37008066)

You mean as in public key encryption? I wasn't thinking of anything that sophisticated. As is, it would have serious vulnerabilities, definitely: example- Bond sleeps with an enemy agent (who is maybe KGB, a double agent posing as a CIA agent), afterwards she excuses herself to the bathroom and scoops out his jizz (sorry, not the classiest description) seals it in an airtight vial and later forges a letter with it.
Hmm.. if he had a threesome, it could bring a whole new meaning to "man in the middle attack" :)

Re:jizz not the best (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37000780)

Wrong. Whilst UV is a legit problem, the point of intercepting messages is not to take the message, read it and throw it away, it's to read it then send it on as though it was never intercepted (so that your enemy doesn't realise that they've been compromised and will keep sending other messages for you to read and prevent their plans).

Fortunately, heating the message to read it would be noticed when received and I'm not aware of UV lamps being particularly prevalent at the time.

Re:jizz not the best (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37003360)

The "black light" was invented in 1935, by Dr. William Byler, a prolific inventor most of his life's work was with luminescent chemicals including florescent ones.

The best invisible ink comes from your body (0)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000060)

An old Roman version of invisible ink can be made in your own home. You need to collect your urine for several days and keep it uncovered in the sun so that it becomes more concentrated. keep it inside, like on your kitchen counter so it doesn't become contaminated with windblow stuff. after several days, it will become a dark amber color... this is what you want... for each gallon of urine, add two teaspoons of vinegar, one teaspoon of green food coloring (we're using a oxidized copper ion here), and finally, a half-cup of corn starch... mix it all together with your hands and dip a straw into it and suck it up into the straw....then start writing with it.
when it dries you won't be able to see it.
my subsequent post will tell you how to "develop" it so your friends CAN see it.

Re:The best invisible ink comes from your body (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000078)

and finally.... to develop it... and remember, this only works on April 1st... is to use a concentrated Plutonium solution wiped over the surface with an organic cloth like cotton or rabbit skin

Re:The best invisible ink comes from your body (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000256)

Informative, but honestly who is going to need a gallon of invisible ink? And I quail at the thought of "mix it all together with your hands and dip a straw into it and suck it up into the straw"

Why can't we just make a very simple fountain style pen using a twig and pocket knife?

Re:The best invisible ink comes from your body (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000264)

You missed the part where it was all an elaborate scheme to get you to suck up several-day-old urine in a straw.

Re:The best invisible ink comes from your body (1)

thomasdz (178114) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000316)

You missed the part where it was all an elaborate scheme to get you to suck up several-day-old urine in a straw.

BINGO! You win.

I, however, fail, because I meant to submit it as Anonymous Coward... oh well....

Re:The best invisible ink comes from your body (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000304)

Zing, successfully trolled :(

Re:The best invisible ink comes from your body (1)

wiedzmin (1269816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000314)

we're using a oxidized copper ion here

I am dying to know where is here, where you find yourself in common need of peeing in a jar to make invisible ink.

Re:The best invisible ink comes from your body (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37005178)

we're using a oxidized copper ion here

I am dying to know where is here, where you find yourself in common need of peeing in a jar to make invisible ink.

I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.
If, however, you're one of our agents, please use a magnet below to see the secret message:
:

.

Been working on the digital version (1)

vm146j2 (233075) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000070)

{

}

Whitespace programming language (1)

dwheeler (321049) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000426)

Re:Whitespace programming language (1)

crepe-boy (950569) | more than 2 years ago | (#37001270)

But isn't that just a sementic language...?

Re:Been working on the digital version (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000542)

One of the tricks of invisible ink is being able to read it later by some means.

Secretion message (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000116)

Did every MI6 agent get a stack of porn to use when writing hidden messages?

Re:Secretion message (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000270)

Have you watched any James Bond movies? Why would you need magazines when you had all these women swarming you all the time.

Re:Secretion message (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37002802)

You'd think the villains would have caught on that "swarm of women == james bond nearby"...

Almost effective. or super effective (1)

h4x0t (1245872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37000410)

Doubly invisible if you keep it in a dirty magazine. That is, it would be, if the pages wouldn't keep getting stuck together.
Or would that just make it triply invisible.

Read (1)

jason777 (557591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37001028)

Bet you cant







read that!

Re:Read (1)

captain_sweatpants (1997280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37004116)

was it <br><br><br><br><br> by any chance?

Bullet Proof Ink (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37003748)

Noodlers Blue Ghost is a really sweet ink to use for just that. Very invisible and very UV. Gewgle it.

Bulletproof (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37004130)

Then theres a fountain pen ink called Noodlers Blue Ghost, which is very invisible, and highly flourescent under UV light. Awesome stuff I have a 3oz bottle. Of course this is eel based, I'm sure. Gewgle it eh?

Tying it all together ... (1)

BenBoy (615230) | more than 2 years ago | (#37005348)

Several substances were used, as documented in Led Zeppelins famous work "Led Zeppelin Traveling Riverside Blues":

Squeeze my lemon 'til the juice runs down my leg Squeeze it so hard, I'll fall right out of bed Squeeze my lemon, 'til the juice runs down my leg Spoken: I wonder if you know what I'm talkin' about Oh, but the way that you squeeze it girl I swear I'm gonna fall right out of bed She's a good rider She's my kindhearted lady I'm gonna take my rider by my side I said her front teeth are lined with gold She's gotta mortgage on my body, got a lien on my soul She's my brownskin sugar plum...

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...