Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Puzzle For You

Hello my droogies!

I needed a change of pace from all this talk of religion, so I decided to actually attempt to harness all the considerable brainpower and variety of viewpoints on this blog to do something constructive instead of just the usual mutual mental masturbation.

Let's instead try to find the solution to a really hard puzzle. And if we do solve it, perhaps do some good in the world. Maybe even solve an old murder case.

No, really. Excited yet?

First, you might want the background information:

FBI: Help Us Crack This Code and Solve a Murder Case

That's right, when I set a challenge, I shoot for the fucking moon.

Here's the deal. Nobody can solve this code. FBI cryptology experts have been stymied by it now for twelve years. And yet, when I look at it, I can't look away. So I thought that I'd introduce it here, as a post, so that all of you can discuss it and share the pain. Perhaps we might even solve it; who knows?

Here's the actual code:

(click to enlarge)

Have at it!

I'll start. I notice that it seems that the two letters 'se' have some special significance, perhaps indicating the end of a word.

And afterwards when we've exhausted ourselves in this sisyphean manner, we can go back to religion.

Or maybe not. I haven't decided yet. Consider this my 'intermezzo.'


  1. Bri,

    First, I wonder what Pliny could do with this?

    Second, my barely edumacated beginning impressions... are those parentheticals used in typical fashion regardless of code? They might not have "any significance" aside from a form of communication we know all too well. But maybe not, that could go either way. The hyphens however look codish.

    Also those bubbles... to me there's something *normal* about their placement. Like he really was encapsulating ideas.

    I know none of this helps the gist, but I didn't want to leave you thinking one of us hadn't taken your suggestion. That's my five minute glance.

  2. DoH - YOU SUCK! I cannot ignore a pattern recognition or signal to noise problem. So this will annoy me for some time no doubt. I'm going to share this with my daughter whose pattern recognition skills make me look like a chimp.

  3. I was thinking...

    The nature of the note is apparently a casual one, a 'note to self' of course. So that pretty much lets out book-based codes and really complex systems, no?

    He had to be proficeint in reading it, so it must be fairly simple. And yet, with no points of reference, hard to solve without his key.

    Are the letters and numbers symbols of actual letters and numbers? Seems doubtful, given the amount of analysis this has already gone through. Perhaps they're shorthand for whole words. Perhaps certain letter combinations symbolize various words. And perhaps, some symbolize line breaks and word breaks or whatever they're called. Spaces.

    It has to be easily legible without some little guidebook in the guy's hand to figure it out as he goes along. They're casual notes to self, after all.

    Also, another point. Given that this has ben 'cryptanalyzed' to death over such a long period of time, I'm not sure if any 'pattern recognition' thing is going to solve it.

    It may be disarmingly simple, or really complicated if the guy was like Kevin Spacey in "Seven."

    I am most inclined to attempt to understand the type of person that created this and speculate from there as regards his probable psychology and interests rather than start at the standard pattern recognition methods which have bean beaten to death already.

    Hey, it could be a more complex take on 'pig latin' if you get my meaning. Or perhaps a substitution code, but not one-to-one. Maybe two letters mean one, and one mean two, that kind of thing.

    So many possibilities.

    Was he able to speak another language? That would interest me... It might not even translate as english.

    Need data. Without it, pretty daunting.

  4. One thing I'm sure of, this guy swore a LOT.

    PRSE stands either for 'shit' or 'fuck'.

  5. Interesting. A possibility I had not considered.
    Does even a very profane person normally swear in private coded notes to themself, though? Seems counterintuitive.

    As to the 'bubbles' encapsulating a thought, seems likely to me.

  6. In writing? In code?

    Hey pliny, so stop holding out. What's the solution already?

  7. Ste B - I have a short story posted that should tickle your fancy. I've been holding it for april 1

  8. I'm very disappointed in all of you.

    I'd thought you'd have the answer by now.

    The correct answer is '42.'

    Now that that's over, NEW POST IS UP.

  9. I hadn't gotten the chance to read Pliny's April 1 post till just now.

    I highly recommend it.

    Here's what I said to him on his blog:

    "Pliny, Pliny, Pliny...

    You my friend, are a truly excellent author. Why are you not doing this for a living?

    I do not give such praise lightly. This reminded me of Harlan Ellison. Only with more technical expertise, and nothing lost for all that.

    Dude, seriously, you have talent. Pursue it. Not that you're 'wasting your life' now by any measure, I'm sure, but still, I'd like to read more by you in this style. I'd pay for the privilege. And so would others."