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Breaking the Fermilab Code 252

Posted by kdawson
from the paging-frank-shoemaker-white-courtesy-telephone-please dept.
Saiyine sends word that the mysterious code received at Fermilab, which we discussed last Friday, has been mostly decoded, inside of two days, by two separate people. The poster at the second link seems to have constructed a more complete rationale for the message.
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Breaking the Fermilab Code

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  • by Konster (252488)
    Ahh, the mystery of Employee #508.

    Which /.er is going to come forward?
    • by kvezach (1199717)
      And here I thought it was Employee 2-4601 [wikipedia.org] all along...
    • by mea37 (1201159)
      I'm not seeing anything new in the math... which isn't surprising, as I don't have time to spend on it.

      But I do wonder, if it's employee 252 (rather than 508)? Reasoning:

      First section looks to be the "easiest" of the 3 to decode without context. It contains a message the meaning of which is of course in question -- but maybe its purposes are (1) to establish the rules of the code for the third section, so that (with a little notational tweak) it's reasonable to solve the third, and (2) to take a jab at Sh
  • by everyplace (527571) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @03:36AM (#23472172) Homepage
    One always conceptually understands the power of numbers, but in this case it is amazing, considering that this problem went unsolved for an extended period within fermilab. The second it is asked to the correct audience though, the gears start going and the answer exists!
    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:34AM (#23472494)
      Yes, and if anyone needed proof that open source is better than closed source for finding bugs or fixing security vulnerabilities, this is yet more evidence.
      • by struppi (576767) <struppi&guglhupf,net> on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:53AM (#23472582) Homepage

        No, not really. This only shows that a lot of people will try to solve interesting problems, and some of them eventually will. It does not say anything about open source software and finding bugs or security vulnerabilities, which involves (among other things) reading tons of "boring" code.

        Note: I did not say that open source is bad for finding bugs and vulnerabilities, I just want to mention that breaking this code does not say anything about open source software.

        • by CarpetShark (865376) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:58AM (#23472602)
          Well, the fact that you don't see the connection does not preclude the link. Many people would say that coding is boring, and yet others find it interesting just to browse code. The fact that people on slashdot (mostly coders and other IT people) are interested in these codes suggests an overlap. In fact, I doubt many people would argue with that (although I'm sure it'll be the few who would argue that will reply ;). I stand by what I said.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by SQLGuru (980662)
            I would suspect that most here that are interested in this puzzle don't have any thoughts of open source vs closed source while they ponder a solution. Many (like myself) are some of the smartest people in their family and likely their circle of friends...and possibly even broader communities (not the Goatse guy, obviously). They seek a solution because it would provide further evidence of their mental superiority. It's a form of validation; much like responses and mods to your slashdot posts provide a f
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Builder (103701)
            It might not preclude a link, but the parent is correct - the results of the public resolution of this problem have nothing to do with Open Source software.

            Furthermore, many bugs do NOT make all bugs shallow - look at recent news, the 25 year old BSD bug, the Debian OpenSSL debacle. Why did the many eyes not make those bugs shallow? Partly because that isn't an interesting problem for nearly as many people as the fermilab stuff, and partly because code changes.

            You see, I could fully audit some code tomorrow
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Warbothong (905464)
            I think this is actually negative publicity for the open source development model, since this merely shows that collaboration results in broken code.
        • Note: I did not say that open source is bad for finding bugs and vulnerabilities, I just want to mention that breaking this code does not say anything about open source software.

          You're correct. Here, people are working to figure out a common consensus on a solution. The open source world, by contrast, is all about a million people each finding their own solution. Speaking of finding one's own solution, everybody don your tinfoil hat: the answer lies in the number 23 [wikipedia.org]. Wait, did I say 23? I meant Wikipedia.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        I imagine if they had a bunch of people PAID to decode the message, they'd find it just as quickly. Your post really has nothing to do with open source bug fixing, apart from the fact that they both include people. Great work :)
    • by QuantumTheologian (1155137) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @05:45AM (#23472806)
      From the original release by Fermilab, it seems to me like they had this sitting in a drawer somewhere. Sure, technically it went 'unsolved', but no one was really looking for a solution.
  • by adam (1231) * on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @03:39AM (#23472184)
    Just want to point out that 1st and 3rd stanzas were cracked WITHIN the slashdot thread. See wirelessbuzzers' post here [slashdot.org] and femtobyte's post here [slashdot.org]. Either of these two individuals may be the two people whose sites are linked in the summary for this current story, but since I can't be sure, I wanted to make sure credit was given to them as well. (The first stanza was cracked within 7hrs of the /. story going live)

    Also, based on the "employee number" speculation in the second link especially, I want to point out that although I am the furthest thing from a "codecracker," I do believe the BASSE misspelling of BASE is intentional and is a clue. Likewise, the FRANK SHOEMAKER WOULD CALL THIS NOISE stanza may be a reference to his work for fermilab (detecting signal that often hides amongst noise), but is probably a double entendre of some sort. If someone is methodical enough to encode this text and mail it to Fermilab, they wouldn't misspell such a simple word (BASE), unless for a good reason. Along these same lines of thought, I believe the "noise" comment is also a clue with multiple meanings. Also, from what I gather, the middle stanza can be assumed to be hex, so that makes the third stanza fairly insignificant, unless it has other meaning (hence looking at "BASSE" for a clue as to some other meaning).
    • by bobdotorg (598873) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @03:54AM (#23472244)
      they wouldn't misspell such a simple word (BASE), ... (hence looking at "BASSE" for a clue as to some other meaning).

      Clearly,
      All your Basse are belong to us.

      Sorry.
    • by adam (1231) * on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:25AM (#23472440)
      okay, now i'm beginning to become obsessed here, haha. My lack of mathematical background precludes me from decoding the stanzas (2 of 3 already done, and "peer reviewed").. but the psychological clues feel more within my grasp. If we examine the explanation at the first link on the story...

      With my initial interpretation of the top part of the coded message I got the following output: (021) FRANK@SHOEMAKER@WOULD@CAMV@FTVTCAPSBC
      The second link does a better job explaining, but basically one of the "words" in ternary was "wrapped" and due to the lack of hyphen, this was misintrepreted by both crackers. What I find interesting is not that once you actually solve the stanza, you get "FRANK SHOEMAKER WOULD CALL THIS NOISE," but rather that CALL THIS NOISE was the obscured part of the message. The signal that was hidden amongst the "noise" of a missing hyphen. The first cracker (John) speculates that he missed an indentation that indicates this (although he permits the possibility that it may be random), but I think there was no indentation, and the author wanted you to see the significance of this hidden word phrase (regarding "NOISE").

      Again, just as I believe "BASSE" is significant because it is misspelled (when nothing else is), I believe this wrapped word is significant (when no other words are wrapped). It's possible the encoder did this just to make things a bit harder, but if you look at the fact that it happens exactly at the part of the sentence referring to "noise," I believe you must be more inclined to lend it significance.

      Regarding BASSE, again, I am not a mathematician or a cracker, so I may be at a strong disadvantage here. If the significance of BASSE is taking the "extra" S and incorporating it into the middle stanza, I will be of little help to this collective effort. That said, if we attack the problem from a psychological/wordclue aspect... Googling "basse" doesn't help much, but google: fermilab basse ...and the second link [fermilabtoday.com] talks about Wilson Hall, and the Beauvais Catherdral, "occupied by the Romanesque church known as the Basse oeuvre," This page also talks about the fermilab logo, so I spent a while thinking that logo might have sixteen points, or sixteen intersections, etc.. nothing. But if we google image search "wilson hall fermilab" -- images of wilson [flickr.com] hall [fnal.gov] seem to show that it has sixteen stories when I count them. A quick googling reveals, "The 16-story Robert Wilson Hall is named after Fermilab's first director and was inspired by a French Gothic cathedral" --the cathedral occupied by the Basse Oeuvre-- Coincidence?

      In summary, BASSE SIXTEEN is (possibly) a sixteen story Fermilab building, named Wilson Hall. The significance of "NOISE" is still lost on me, and I believe the middle stanza should help with forward momentum. I am now going to review both explanations linked from the /. summary and attempt to parse something from the hexidecimal decoding(s) of the middle stanza.

      Perhaps more now than ever I wish /, posts could be edited, as I am *NOT* done with this, but I want to post it now so others can expand on my thoughts, or perhaps save me from heading down some pointless passageways of reasoning. Further posts to come. Oh, also, if you attempt to edit your previewed post more than three times, slashdot barfs on you and you have to re-write it. Could have saved 10 mins had I known that :(
      • by MoriaOrc (822758) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:47AM (#23472556)
        Just to help you stay on track, a note about the odd line breaks from the link to the "thought process" from below:

        The odd breaks occur because the way it's written is in a fixed-width row format. Each row contains an equal number of columns, and each column contains either a '|' or a ' ' (dash or space). The correct interpretation of the message removes the line breaks and translates the sentence as a single line.

        The first stanza has 47 columns per row. The 5-6 and 6-7 breaks occur because the last column in line 5/6 is a '|' but the first column in line 6/7 is also a '|'.

        The third stanza uses the same notation, but now each row consists of 85 columns. The 2-3 break has the same problem as in the first stanza, the row ran out of columns and the gap character had to be continued on the next row.

        If you're looking for significance with those gaps, instead consider the number of columns per row, and the fact that both stanzas have 7 complete rows and an 8th partial row.

        Misc numbers that may or may not be helpful:
        25 columns in the last row of Stanza 1
        21 columns in the last row of Stanza 3
        • by adam (1231) * on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @05:14AM (#23472660)
          Expanding upon your "significance of 7 rows for both third and first stanza" theory, I immediately notice that the Wilson Hall building has 7 columns (count them: here [flickr.com] and here [fnal.gov]. Your suggestion appears helpful.

          If the orientation of the columns is rotated 90deg to make them rows, the stanzas may map to the columns in the building. If we assume the messages are significant, and the correlation to building "rows" is significant, and the left over "8th rows" from stanzas are significant.. we could derive all sorts of possibilities for the mapping of the remaining rows to a position in the building. Again, seeing how others here are much better at finding mathematically significant aspects than I am, I will throw this theory out and see if you or someone else can parse it.. because I believe the "25 columns in the last row of Stanza 1, 21 columns in the last row of Stanza 3" will need to be parsed somehow.

          Also, speaking of my lack of math background-- can anyone post something useful for the second stanza? I know John and Geoff (linked crackers) have decoded the three character string below the second stanza, as being "508 (0Ã--1fc) or 2812 (0xafc)" but what about the second stanza itself? If it's base sixteen encoded can someone work on decoding it? We are really working with 2/3 of the available information here, and I think the remaining third will provide a lot of momentum.

          also, as I expect this will continue long after this story is no longer at the top of the page, anyone who wants to collaborate via e-mail, may feel free to contact me. my email address is encoded as follows ;) ... myslashdotusernamewhichisfourcharacters.slashdot at gmail. Now I really wish I'd looked closer at the original story, instead of glancing and thinking, "wow, lots of math and the letter is probably a prank.. what else is there to read on slashdot today.."
          • You could try comparing handwriting to that of colleagues of Frank Shoemaker.

            Also, does the paper have any indentations from previous letters, and can the paper itself be identified as a particular type?

          • by Placido (209939)
            Hi,

            I'm not sure what I'm missing but I could not see a 2nd Stanza. The second paragraph is actually a lookup for the three characters below it.... well actually it's a partial lookup as it does not have all of base 16 in it.

            Anyway, I think all the data has been decoded but as the FA says, not all meaning has been derived and the three characters still has ambiguity in it.

            Hope this helps.
          • by famebait (450028)

            the Wilson Hall building has 7 columns
            And 16 stories.

            Maybe we should be looking for a building with 46 floors? Actually, I don't believe much in the whole building thing.
        • by famebait (450028)

          The first stanza has 47 columns per row
          46.
          • by MoriaOrc (822758)
            On closer inspection, the first three rows are 47 columns, and the next 4 rows are 46. In row 4, there is a section near the end when the extra column is dropped, and ' |||' from R3 (4 bits) turn into a '| |' on R4 (3 bits).
            • by famebait (450028)
              Actually, including only necessary spaces (and
              marking the trailing ones of those, I get this:


              111 11 111 11 111 111 111 111 1 1 1 11 1 111 11
              111 111 111 11 111 1 111 11 11 1 11 111 111 1_
              11 1 1 1 111 111 1 1 111 11 111 1 11 11 111 111
              111 111 111 11 1 11 1 11 111 11 1 111 1 1 111
              111 1 1 111 111 111 111 1 111 111 111 1 1 1 1_
              11 1 1 111 111 111 111 11 111 11 111 11 11 1 1
              11 111 11 111 1 111 111 111 1 1 11 1 11 111 1_
              111 111 11 111 1 111 1 11

              A mess really.
              • by famebait (450028)
                Ooops, slashdot messed it up even more, doubling spaces at the start of a line. Here goes:

                111 11 111 11 111 111 111 111 1 1 1 11 1 111 11
                _111 111 111 11 111 1 111 11 11 1 11 111 111 1_
                11 1 1 1 111 111 1 1 111 11 111 1 11 11 111 111
                _111 111 111 11 1 11 1 11 111 11 1 111 1 1 111
                _111 1 1 111 111 111 111 1 111 111 111 1 1 1 1_
                11 1 1 111 111 111 111 11 111 11 111 11 11 1 1
                11 111 11 111 1 111 111 111 1 1 11 1 11 111 1_
                111 111 11 111 1 111 1 11
            • by famebait (450028)
              sorry for the noise:-) , you are right:

              1234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789
              xxx xx xxx|xx xxx xxx|xxx xxx x|x x xx|x xxx xx
              020=F 200=R 001=A 112=N 102=K
              |xxx xxx xxx|xx xxx x|xxx xx xx|x xx xxx|xxx x_
              000=_ 201=S 022=H 120=O 012=E
              xx|x x x|xxx xxx x|x xxx xx|xxx x xx|xx xxx xxx
              111=M 001=A 102=K 012=E 200=R
              |xxx xxx xxx|xx x xx|x xx xxx|xx x xxx|x x xxx
              000=_ 212=W 120=O 210=U 110=L
              |xxx x x|xxx xxx xxx|xxx x xxx|xxx xxx x|x x x
              011=D 000=_
        • by famebait (450028)

          Each row consists of 85 columns
          A letter-size sheet of 10squares/inch graph paper
          would have 85 columns across. Is such paper common?

          The 46 seems more arbitrary/significant though.
      • I actually think you're on the right track. I tried very hard not to think about this at work today and tried not to look at that confounded letter. The hexadecimal solution for the middle part is just too obvious (i.e. you didn't even need to decode the other parts to work out it was [supposedly] hex...). Too easy, and this bothers me.
      • Left Hander (Score:4, Interesting)

        by FlatWhatson (802600) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:55AM (#23472588)
        The message seems to have been written by a left-handed person. Analysis of the vertical lines in the two partially decrypted stanzas show a consistant skew a few degrees to the left which increases towards the right side of the page.

        Another clue on the psych path to decoding the SEKRIT MSGS !?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JoeKilner (930306)

        My gut feeling was that it was a dig at Frank Shoemaker - i.e. Frank would miss the message in this because he would call it noise.

        So, either a friend having a friendly jibe or a disgruntled ex-colleague lashing out (maybe at someone who told him that the "signal" he saw in some data was "just noise")?

        But I think I am probably reading _way_ too much in to things here...

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bonehead (6382)
          That's actually very interesting. Were there any incidents during his time at Fermilab where seemingly interesting data was found, and Frank Shoemaker dismissed it as noise?

          Has this colleague done further research, became convinced that it is significant, and pointing the direction to data that needs to be revisited?

          Could this be someone's way of letting the folks at Fermilab know that they're sitting on a major breakthrough in their archives? One that has been dismissed as meaningless?

          Who knows? Interes
        • Ditto, the jibe is self referencing: "FRANK SHOEMAKER WOULD CALL THIS NOISE" but it could also refer to the extra 'S'.
      • by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @05:16AM (#23472668) Journal
        I think the noise refers to the many black dots found on the page itself. Just below the vertical bottom of the first section, if you scroll all the way to the right you'll see a cluster of three dots and, going down-left from there, another two dots, another two dots, etc.

        Or look at the symbol section. You'll see the first symbol for 6 looks like a horizontal bar with a vertical hook and a dot under the bar. The second symbol for 6 has no dot. And to the right of the second symbol for 6 is a vertical cluster of three dots.

        Maybe they're nothing, but I get the sneaking suspicion that it's the dots (noise) that's the real puzzle here. Potentially with the symbols indicating the relative geometric arrangement of the dots that then map back to the letters/numbers.
         
        • I think the noise refers to the many black dots found on the page itself.

          I think the statement "Frank Shoemaker would call this noise" may actually be self-referential ie: It adds nothing to the main message, it is only a misdirection.

        • by famebait (450028)
          Nah, if you're already doing cryptography, steganography is sort of a cop-out.
        • But if Fermilab were the ones who punched those binding holes in the page, they might've made a message of that sort unreadable.
        • by fifedrum (611338)
          or a star field
      • by Skinkie (815924)
        I didn't read this before, but the second 'S' introduced, could it be a mapping to or from the non solved 'S' above the text?
      • Awesome work here.

        I assume you've also looked at the man the building is named after, Robert R. Wilson.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_R._Wilson [wikipedia.org]

        Possibly of some coincidence, Robert Wilson has a sculpture named "Topological III", which is on display at "Cabot Science Center building, Harvard University." which you can see at the above wikipedia page. From what I can tell from the photo, it looks like a representation of a kind of Mobius strip.

        I only looked at the sculpture because the name co
    • by jonfr (888673) *
      I didn't see the original slashdot thread when this was first posted.

      However, it is not hard to break binary hex code. But I believe that this is hex binary, however as it is being transported over a paper it was fitted into this form for easy transport.

      I believe that the first code is something like 0x0c and the second is something like 0x0e, the third 0x02, the forth is 0x012. However, I have to give me more time to look at this so my on the spot decoding is most likely flawed and far from correct.
      • by aliquis (678370)
        I don't get your last part, but what whould happen if someone took the hexadecimal numbers, converted them to binary/trinary and then used just the same principle as in part 1 and 3? I'm to lazy to do it.

        Probably nothing useful and probably already done by someone else but anyway :)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @06:13AM (#23472950)
      The date on the fax actually seems significant... TFA suggests that this was received by Fermilab just over a year ago, which was not long after the (very well publicized) Fermilab-manufactured quadropole triplet failure [fnal.gov] at the CERN Large Hadron Collider.

      According to a 2006 Princeton Physics News article [princeton.edu] (page three of the PDF), Frank Shoemaker was a pioneer in using quadopole doublets to focus particle beams ... coincidence?

      The timing seems suspect to me.
    • From what I can find online - Frank Shoemaker is a Princeton professor working on neutrino detection. Here [fnal.gov] and here [fnal.gov].
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by JeepFanatic (993244)
        So I post this then refresh the front page of /. to read this:

        ET Will Phone Home Using Neutrinos, Not Photons [slashdot.org]
        "Neutrinos are better than photons for communicating across the galaxy. That's the conclusion of a group of US astronomers who say that the galaxy is filled with photons that make communications channels noisy whereas neutrino comms would be relatively noise free. Photons are also easily scattered and the centre of the galaxy blocks them entirely. That means any civilisation advanced enough to hav

    • by EricR86 (1144023)
      Basse is "low" in french. "Low sixteen" corresponding to the hex-like 2nd second stanza?
    • by Xentor (600436)
      Someone mentioned that "BASSE" can refer to a building... "Robert Wilson Hall"...

      So...

      "FRANK SHOEMAKER WOULD CALL THIS NOISE"
      "EMPLOYEE NUMBER BASSE SIXTEEN"

      So I wonder if the "BASSE" building's sixteenth floor has a room whose number is equal to Frank Shoemaker's employee number or phone extension...

      Maybe there's something in that room that would be needed to decode the rest of the message.

      Or maybe "BASSE SIXTEEN" refers to the building (It has sixteen floors), and it's asking for the employee number of Rob
      • As someone who works at FNAL as a grad. student I believe that the 16th floor of Wilson Hall is the "attic" I believe the observation deck is on floor 15. IMO, I doubt that the message is referring to anything up there.

        Frank Shoemaker is a Princeton physicist who also does his research at FNAL. Neither his mail station number of phone number match any of the numbers given in the message. (I don't want to give his info out because people will contact him.)

        Finally, I believe Robert Wilson's User ID nu

    • I have serious doubts that what is coming out is the real message. For starters, fermilab placed this out and said that it was simply found. Yet, it is obvousily a test of some sorts. In another post, I indicated that this was most likely either about our dealing with alien mesgs, or this was an experiment funded by NSA.

      I see 2 issues here, The first is that it really was too easily "solved". My guess is that the real message really is being missed (i..e keep looking).

      But the second and more important i
  • An additional link. (Score:5, Informative)

    by legutierr (1199887) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:07AM (#23472318)
    Some of the thought process that went into the second solution. http://www.gmilburn.ca/2008/05/16/fermilabs-strange-code-letter/ [gmilburn.ca]
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:09AM (#23472324)
    This is by far the most convoluted way of getting someone's email adress spammed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Linker3000 (626634)
      Woah, this is the last time I use the scribble paper from the pen section of the local stationery shop as a fax test sheet.

      Damn, looks like I got the destination number wrong too.
  • BASSE (Score:5, Interesting)

    by byennie (1126011) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:24AM (#23472434)

    After some Google work:

    Wilson Hall has a connection to ""Basse oeuvre". See this [fermilabtoday.com].

    Wilson Hall has 16 floors, and you must have an employee badge to access the 16th floor.
    • Re:BASSE (Score:4, Interesting)

      by textstring (924171) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @05:00AM (#23472612)
      The top floor of Wilson Hall has a lounge area and a lots of windows and it's where they take visitors for the view. You can however get to the floor above that but it's all concrete and DANGER signs, it is very noisy though: A clue!
    • by mhall119 (1035984)
      While the building has 16 floors, the "first" floor is actually on the second level, the "ground" floor being on what we would consider the first. If there is no "16th" floor, maybe it's an allusion to the roof?
  • It seems most likely that the "noise" referred to in the first stanza is the extra S is "basse" in the third. This leads me to believe that there is more information in the middle stanza than the employee number.
  • by kidsizedcoffin (1197209) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @04:53AM (#23472580)
    I got an answer of 42.
  • by FalcDot (1224920) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @05:00AM (#23472616)
    Why would that middle stanza only be a mapping, used to decode those three items? There seems to be too much information for it to be just that, especially since you only need to decode 3 'letters'.

    So why the rest of the key? Why are some hex numbers repeated?

    Why does every hex number (that shows up) appear once, twice or three times? Again with the three, again with the ternary? *Three* stanzas, all in some form of base *three*?

    Just wondering out loud, I couldn't really get far with this train of thought but maybe someone else will be able to hop on.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Middle stanza contains 2 lines with each 12 characters. Each of the characters appear not more than 3 times:
      B-1, C-1, D-2, E-3, F-3, 5-1, 8-1, 2-2, 6-3, 3-2, 7-1, 9-2, 4-1, 0-1.
      'A' and '1' are not present at all, I am not sure if we are really looking at hex.

      Instead, transcribing each character with there appearance number gives us:
      311311323232
      311222312233

      looks somehow similar to the other two stanzas:
      311 311 323 232
      311 222 312 233

      but i can't decode it.

      final 3 digit could be something like S31, if 'S' remai
  • by dargaud (518470)
    This reminds me of a few science fiction stories based on the hypothesis that you can transmit messages backwards in time, but that noise and causality acts against them being understood fully. One book, Timescape [amazon.com] by Benford has the protagonist living in a world gone to ecological hell and he's trying to warn a young physicist in the early 50s.

    The target receives messages on his lab equipment, but the funny thing is that messages that can potentially change the course of time are gibberish (because then t

  • by shungi (977531) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @05:46AM (#23472814)
    Basse Donnée system is a system that generates all the allowable solutions for given bass tasks within triads There are a few abstracts to the effect of the above that come on on google if one searches Basse and Science. I have no idea what it means, but i note: 1. It mentions triads - 3 is important in problem 2. It has something to do with music - sound, noise! 3. There is some sought of algorithm around it. ... Might be a trap though... (http://ci.nii.ac.jp/naid/110003111379/en/ )
  • The second stanza looks like ANSI block characters to me. Take a look at these tables.

    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ms947792.aspx
  • Done! (Score:4, Funny)

    by g0dsp33d (849253) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @06:01AM (#23472886)
    The middle stanza says "I've wasted a million man hours".
  • by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <AdHocTechGuy.aol@com> on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @07:49AM (#23473448) Journal
    and get back to work. I pay you to code, not decode!" says the pointy haired boss. ]8O
  • ... Charles M. Schulz.
  • The, "FRANK@SHOE..." line is possibly an alternate translation just stuck in there to confuse wannabe cryptoanalysts. The self referential description could be an homage to mr. Shoemaker, not a dig.
  • This is great! I've got a take home quiz due next week - I'll just fax it to Fermilab and wait for the answers to appear on Slashdot!
  • Neighboring Argonne National Laboratory, which has ties to the DOE and Fermi might be behind this.
    The phone number (630) 508-2812 appears to be for a cell phone in the greater Chicago area, however, in the classified ad of an ANL newsletter, a (630) 508-xxxx number can be found [64.233.167.104], as can another reference in a nearby Clarendon Hills, IL newsletter [64.233.167.104]. It might be reasonable to think that these numbers were allocated from a nearby store.
  • Hex in the Middle (Score:3, Interesting)

    by UCRowerG (523510) <UCRowerG.yahoo@com> on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @10:37AM (#23475386) Homepage Journal
    Repeating symbols in the middle, plus the complexity of the outer sections suggests (to me at least) that there is more than just a key here. Ignoring the symbols (which look a little like bastardized geometry notations) and breaking the hex into words:

    F0 BE 58 F2 FD 63
    6C 79 D2 E4 93 E6
    ... to decimal is...
    240 190 88 242 253 99
    108 121 210 228 147 230
    ...or binary...
    111100001011111001011000111100101111110101100011
    11011000111100111010010111001001001001111100110

    Taking each symbol/value individually:
    111100001011111001011000111100101111110101100011
    011011000111100111010010111001001001001111100110
    ...the length of which is divisible by three, curiously...
    111 100 001 011 111 001 011 000 111 100 101 111 110 101 100 011
    011 011 000 111 100 111 010 010 111 001 001 001 001 111 100 110
    ...or in decimal...
    7 4 1 3 7 1 3 0 7 4 5 7 6 5 4 3
    3 3 0 7 4 7 2 2 7 1 1 1 1 7 4 6

    The first section seemed to decode via base three. So converting the values produces:
    f 0 b e 5 8 f 2 f d 6 3
    6 c 7 9 d 2 e 4 9 3 e 6
    122 000 102 121 012 022 122 002 122 111 020 010
    020 110 021 100 111 020 121 011 100 010 121 020

    Using the mapping in the first paragraph doesn't seem to make any sense:
    RALQFI... or Q KPEH...

    Who's to say I'm on the right track here, but if I am, I think a new mapping is required.
  • ...breaking the Feminine code?

  • Last Piece (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dslmodem (733085) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @01:07PM (#23478176) Journal

    Look at the dots among the symbols.

    01 01 10 (112) 00 00 10 (002)

    00 00 00 (000) 10 00 10 (202)

    The 2nd part is "NB T".

    Note that Nb(t) is a notation representing noise.

    :-)

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