What is Morse Code?

What is Morse Code?

Written by Supernova

Feb 4, 2022

Dots and Dashes

Morse code is a way of sending messages across long distances. It’s done with short and long electrical pulses. Short pulses are called ‘’dots’’ and long pulses are called ‘’dashes’’.

In international Morse code, each letter from the basic Latin alphabet, numerals, punctuation and special characters are represented by a group of dots and dashes.

Morse code is an electrical coding system. The device used for electric telegraphy (the transmitter) sends electrical signals over a copper wire by generating pulses when the operator key is pushed down to complete the electric circuit of the battery. 

The electrical signals, in other words the pulses, are received on the other side as beeping sounds. Anyone who knows the Morse code can then translate these beeping sounds into a natural language.

Who invented it?

In the 1830s the American artist Samuel F. B. Morse, the American physicist Joseph Henry, and Alfred Vail developed an electrical telegraph system. This development was the beginning of sending information with digital signals.

E= dot in morse code

The shortest code for a letter in Morse code is “E’’. It’s just a single ‘’dot’’ because it is the most common letter in English. 

The length of a dash is three times the length of a dot. Each dot or dash is followed by a short silence.

People used various methods to communicate with each other over long distances such as drumbeats and smoke signals. Smoke signals are however depended on weather and drumbeats need to be very loud to reach far off recipients. 

The most known signal SOS doesn’t stand for any particular words. The letters were chosen because S is three dots, and O is three dashes, so they are easy to transmit. S O S code was the last code used by the Titanic when in sank in 1912. 

Fun morse code activity

Supernova Volume 8.1 Issue 43

This article first appeared in Supernova Volume 8.1
Words and illustrations by Pinar Lombaard

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