Magazine article ASEE Prism

Engineering Intrigue at the Spy Museum

Magazine article ASEE Prism

Engineering Intrigue at the Spy Museum

Article excerpt

What connects Hammurabi, theTrojan Horse, and a throughthe-wall camera?They're all part and parcel of the history of intelligence gathering and counterintelligence on display at Washington, D.C.'s newest museum, the International Spy Museum. The earliest recorded evidence of espionage dates back some 38 centuries to the era of the Babylonian king.The legend of the Trojan Horse, allegedly used by Greek soldiers to gain entry to Troy, was an ancient example of battlefield subterfuge, And the Czech-invented camera was used by Stasi, the East German secret police, to photograph through walls. While the museum is a paean to sleuthing, it's also a historical record of clever science and amazing engineering. If theTrojan Horse really existed, it was a prime feat of mechanical engineering. Most of the real tools of tradecraft are a testament to engineering ingenuity. Gadgets such as the lipstick pistol, the ring gun, the microdot camera, and the electric lock-pick are scattered throughout the building. …

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