Break the Code: Alphanumeric Codes!

Ministry of Magic

Let’s have another try at code breaking.  Last time we figured out the words above the Mirror of Erised (Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi).

Today we are going to discover what the number 6—2—4—4—2 means.  These are the numbers Mr. Weasley dials when they go to Harry’s trial in the Order of the Phoenix—and the number Harry later uses to get in to the Ministry of Magic with his friends to rescue Sirius.

To get into the Ministry of Magic for Harry’s trial, Mr. Weasley takes Harry to the visitor’s entrance, which is “an old red telephone box, which was missing several panes of glass.”  (OP 125)   Mr. Weasley reaches over Harry and dials in “six . . . two . . . four . . . and another four . . . and another two . . .” (125).  It works and Harry and Mr. Weasley gain entrance to the Ministry of Magic!  (126)

And later on, when Harry flies to the Ministry of Magic with his friends on the thestrals, they land at the visitor’s entrance to the Ministry of Magic (767). All six rescuers squeeze into the telephone box and enter the code Harry remembers the number (62442) and Ron, at Harry’s direction, has him dial in the number.  A friendly sounding female voice asks them to state their names and purpose, and badges arrive stating their names and the purpose of their visit, and after doing so they are allowed to enter (768).

So, what do the numbers mean?

Time for code breaking!

ANALYSIS: Why 62442? Time to use logic! Let’s first try assigning letters of the alphabet to the numbers: 1 being A, 2 being B, and so on. Do we get anything?


1 2 3 4 5

6        F

2        B

4        D

4        D

2        B


Applying 62442, we get F B D D B. Not much there.

Let’s think some more. Any ideas?

Let’s apply situational analysis. Where are they?

At the visitor’s entrance. Yes, yes. But what are they physically in?

A phone booth! Very good!

So what do you think?

Any thoughts on how to break the code?

Phone numbers, you say? But phone numbers usually have seven numbers, like 555–5555.

What’s that? Oh! You want to apply the letters that are on each number key on the phone itself! Sure, that makes sense!

Any readers out there who have texted someone by using the numeric keys?

Let’s add to our list the letters assigned to each number:

6        M N O

2        A B C

4        G H I

4        G H I

2        A B C

See anything?

6        M N O

2        A B C

4        G H I

4        G H I

2        A B C



Isn’t this great? J. K. Rowling never tells us how to break the code, but by using logic we can decode the password for the Ministry of Magic visitor’s entrance!

Code breaking, you see, is very much like magic!

The Pensieve as an Intelligence Analyst Tool


PensievePensieve 2The role of an intelligence analyst is to organize, review, and analyze important information and reach definitive conclusions as to what that information means.

Intelligence analysts receive information from many sources, some obtained covertly by operatives, and some through through a myriad of spy craft means, including communication intercepts, satellites, and open sources such as newspapers.

In the Potter world, Dumbledore acts as an intelligence analyst as he tries to figure out Voldemort’s family background, his history, items he acquired over the years, and his knowledge of the Dark Arts.

And one of the tools Dumbledore uses to discover Voldemort’s past is the Pensieve.  In a sense, the memories shown through the use of the Pensieve are equivalent to reports from the field.

Dumbledore explains the Pensieve to Harry when it is introduced in the Goblet of Fire:

“At these times,” said Dumbledore, indicating the stone basin, “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.” (GF 597)

Just like a good intelligence agent, Dumbledore is trying “to spot patterns and links” that he believes are the key to everything.

“Sir . . . is it important to know all this about Voldemort’s past?”

“Very important, I think,” said Dumbledore.

“And it . . . it’s got something to do with the prophecy?”

“It has everything to do with the prophecy.”

“Right,” said Harry, a little confused, but reassured all the same. (H-B P 215)

But Dumbledore goes a step further by acting as an intelligence operative and actually going out and acquiring the memories from various sources.

So let us take our own trip down memory lane and reflect on the discovery and use of the Pensieve in the Harry Potter series.

In the Goblet of Fire Harry sneaks a peak into the Pensieve and discovers the dark pasts of people like Igor Karkaroff and Barty Crouch Jr. (GF 585-96).

In the Order of the Phoenix Harry uses the Pensieve twice; once to see Snape’s worst memories, and then— finally with Dumbledore’s permission—to hear the “lost” prophecy that relates to Harry.  (OP 639-49, 841.)

It is in the Half-Blood Prince that the Pensive is used as an intelligence tool by Dumbledore, the analyst.  Harry is allowed to “see” eight separate memories, all relating in some way to Voldemort’s past:

  1. Bob Ogden’s memory of the House of Gaunt, where we are introduced to Marvolo, Morfin, and Merope (Tom Riddle’s grandfather, uncle, and mother)(199-211);
  2. Mr. Burke describing the acquisition of a certain necklace that later injures Katy Bell instead of its intended target, Dumbledore (261);
  3. Dumbledore’s memory of retrieving Tom Riddle from the orphanage (263-75);
  4. Morfin’s memory of Tom Riddle “returning” to the Gaunt house to acquire the Gaunt ring (363-65);
  5. Slughorn’s altered memory of a discussion he had with Tom Riddle (369-71);
  6. Hoky the house-elf’s memory of Tom Riddle getting Hepzibah Smith to show him a certain cup and locket that she owned (433-38);
  7. Dumbledore’s memory of Tom Riddle, now known as Lord Voldemort, coming to Hogwarts ostensibly to apply for the position of Professor of the Dark Arts (440-46)
  8. Slughorn’s real memory, where we discover that Tom Riddle had learned about Horcruxes (494-99).

All of these memories provide Dumbledore and Harry essential background on Voldemort which Dumbledore uses to:

  • discover and understand Voldemort’s entire background and history
  • perform an accurate psychological assessment of Voldemort
  • predict Voldemort’s future conduct
  • perform a risk-analysis as to Harry Potter and others
  • identify and locate Horcruxes

CIA operatives and analysts perform the very same role that Dumbledore demonstrates in the Harry Potter series.  They just happen to perform this function in the Muggle world instead of in the Wizarding community!