Town Hall

Invisible Artichokes (November/December 2011)

As you read in "Secret Writing: Class with the CIA," invisible ink isn't just made with lemon juice any more. Superspies have used everything from artichoke juice to, um, pee in order to get their message across. Have you ever sent a secret message to somebody? Did you use invisible ink, or some other stealthy method? ("Was it a love letter?!" --Mimi)

My friend and I learned a little bit of sign language. After a test or something not so very fun, we'll be in the hallway and make the "again" sign. People always wonder what we're doing. :)

submitted by Snowlover, age I'm a snowperson!, Snowless, Georgia
(November 5, 2011 - 11:12 am)

I write notes to myself all the time (like 'Remember to go to the gym at lunch' or 'bring supplies for class') using either binary (a=001, b=010, etc.) or my own language I invented, a sort of shorthand.

submitted by Avalon T., age 150, Ponyland, XY
(November 7, 2011 - 9:07 pm)

I'll have to try that.

submitted by Katie G., age 11,00000000000000000000000000000000000
(November 12, 2011 - 2:50 pm)

Once I was passing a note to my friend in French class. I had tried to roll it up on my pencil, but the teacher saw it and said:

"Gossiping, eh?" She unrolled it and saw  the word malfunction with two robots, one with it's eyes x-ed out, and the other in love. So much for stealth! 

submitted by Charlotte S., age 11, Falmouth, Maine
(November 8, 2011 - 4:19 pm)

I write myself notes EVERYWHERE- in my planner, on my hands/arms, but mostly in my extremely beat-up, Post-it note infused, eraser-smudged, marker-stained memo book that constantly exists in my back pocket.

I want a new one for Christamas. :)

These notes cannot possibly be read by another person, due to it being written in:

a) A language made up by me, mostly consisting of mathematical symbols.

b) A strange mixture of English, Spanish, German, and something vaguely Russian. Even with the help of Google Translate, a person would have to dredge through my, shall I say, interesting memorization skills, coupled with spectacularly horrendous grammatical errors, and thus my notes are unable to be read.

c) Or, it I am feeling lazy, my entirely illegible handwriting.

Notes don't have to be invisible or even in another language or code to be rendered un-crack-able. That's what the authors of spy novels just don't seem to get.

Spammy says CAKE!!! XD

submitted by Ash, age 13, A galaxy far away (aka Michigan, land of the snowpeople)
(December 1, 2011 - 7:21 pm)

i love the idea of invisible notes and am working on a pen that uses lemon juice for ink !p

submitted by stella T, age 11, Marsville IL (aka a tiny chicago suburb)
(December 4, 2011 - 9:25 am)

I agree with you that notes don't need to be in a code.  My code is really messy handwriting.  I can only read it because I've read it since I was about seven.  Nobody else can read it.  They've tried.  Sometimes even I can't read it! 

P.S. That's not to say that ALL my handwriting is messy, because it's not.

P.P.S. Ash, are you a Star Wars fan?

submitted by a.g.
(July 7, 2012 - 3:29 pm)

Yeah, I've heard about the using pee as a reagent thing.

Can you say "ew"? But I guess it would do if there was nothing else...

I usually scribble myself little notes in the corner of my writing notebooks. The only problem is, I have to either go back to that specific page or sometimes, a whole different notebook to find a particular note.

If anybody's ever read Artemis Fowl, I write to my penpal in Minnesota in Gnommish. :)

submitted by Rochelle, age 16, Toronto, Ontario
(December 7, 2011 - 3:16 pm)

I like to speak in a language called Jerigonsa with one of my friends, which consists (the language, not my friend!) in separating each word into syllables and then adding a p at the end of each syllable, along with the vowel in the word. If there's a consonant after the vowel, you just add it on after the p and thee vowel. It sounds complicated but it's really easy, especialy when you speak it in spanish--in english it's a bit more difficult. For example: hola would be hopolapa, while hello would be hepelopo.

submitted by Emma V., age 12, Nowhere in particular (and everywhere in general)
(December 9, 2011 - 12:45 pm)

That's very clever!  Unfortunately, my language besides english is german.  Does Jerigonsa work in German?

submitted by a.g.
(July 7, 2012 - 3:31 pm)

Yeah! I've read all the books! I can read Gnommish pretty well! I also can write in the ancient Greek alphabet. 

submitted by Alliecat
(April 9, 2012 - 4:23 pm)

i keep a commonplace book, but i don't write in code, thogh i do write in a werid mixtir of uppercase and lowercase that i use.

submitted by liam h, age 11, cary nc
(December 13, 2011 - 10:41 am)

Here's what happened:

So first I checked out ALL of the Muse magazines at the library becasue I LOVE them... but then I forgot to renew them and accidently returned them with my other books!!!!! (noooooooo!!!!) So would someone please tell me what the website was in

"Invisible Artichokes" (November/December 2011) for the spy documents? I would very very appreciate that. Thank you!...


The spy documents in the article are online at You'll have to scroll down a bit to get to "CIA declassifies oldest documents in government collection." But you might get distracted by other declassified material on the way! --Ed.

submitted by Annie K., age 13, Chicago, IL
(May 21, 2012 - 2:25 pm)

my friend and I made up a sign language, a written code, and a variation of that code to confuse the guy who sits with us in math.

submitted by greenalbatross
(July 9, 2012 - 7:38 pm)

I have invented a code that is un crackable! I am the only person alive who is fluent though so i cant write to anybody. Even my friend Shrusti doesent know it even though i gave her a paper with a=... b=... c=... ... on it. Please send me a letter to me at 3.14... Her Majesty's Court Pieland, Pieland if you want a copy of the code. 

Her Majesty the Queen  

submitted by Her Majesty the Queen of Pieland, age pi, Pieland, Pieland
(November 9, 2012 - 4:12 pm)