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Breaking the Fermilab Code

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the paging-frank-shoemaker-white-courtesy-telephone-please dept.

Encryption 252

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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Ahhh (1)

Konster (252488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472100)

Ahh, the mystery of Employee #508.

Which /.er is going to come forward?

Re:Ahhh (1)

JavaBasedOS (1217930) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472158)

Whatever happened to the other 507?

Re:Ahhh (1)

kvezach (1199717) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473150)

And here I thought it was Employee 2-4601 [wikipedia.org] all along...

Re:Ahhh (3, Funny)

246o1 (914193) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473560)

why would i have been involved?

Regarding TFB(A) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472128)

This story has been interesting so far - unfortunately some of us are unable to follow links to a majority of TFAs here on Slashdot. For such people, can someone comment as to whether there have been any new developments beyond the "would call this noise" and "employee number base 16" lines (and what said developments are)? Much appreciated!

Re:Regarding TFB(A) (5, Informative)

Nazlfrag (1035012) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472504)

First part is ternary code, I->1, II->2, III->0

1) FRANK@SHOEMAKER@WOULD@CALL@THIS@NOISE

Second part unknown

2) ?

Third part ternary code, II= seperator, same mapping as 1)

3) EMPLOYEE@NUMBER@BASSE@SIXTEEN

It is assumed the three hex symbols are the employee number 0xAFC,

So lets assume the single "word" in the bottom middle of the page is an employee number. If we decode it using the symbols, we get (something)FC. (something) is an undefined symbol, and the only undefined numbers are 1 and A. So the "employee number in base 16" that "frank shoemaker would call noise" is either 1FC or AFC. My guess? Itâ(TM)s AFC (employee number 2812), who works on the AFC (Absorber Focus Coil [ox.ac.uk] , a component of a "neutrino factory" current being studied at Fermilab) - a coincidence Frank Shoemaker would call noise. The employee number is reasonable and fits with the established pattern at Fermilab, see this Fermilab newsletter (page 5) [fnal.gov] which states "At 802, with only three digits, Matthews' employee number reflects the length of his 25-year tenure at the Lab".
Hope that helped.

Re:Regarding TFB(A) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472870)

i'v tried decoding the middle section. i subtracted the hex numbers in the bottom line from the top line, no result, even if i do it backwards. neither if i take their sum (though the subtraction was interesting, because the result ended with -3, which could be interpreted as =, thus possibly making the string base64 encoded, but no luck). i'm out of ideas here.

CHAR MAP (5, Interesting)

stupidflanders (1230894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472920)

When I saw the second paragraph, my first thought was to fire up Char Map.

Whereas other people kept thinking that the middle section was supposed to be substituting the hex numbers for the symbols above, I had to wonder if the symbols were trying to tell us something. After all, as was pretty clearly pointed out by the people who have solved paragraphs one and three, each section contains only five lines. (In fact, the middle paragraph was your clue to this one -- it was just obscured by the fact that it was in two different codes -- but still, only five lines).

Anyway, I realized that many of the symbols in the middle paragraph were in Charmap. AND each of these has a corresponding UTF code, which could be translated in to hex
For instance:

"Not Sign", U+00AC
"Inverted Exclamation Mark", U+00A1
"Greater Than Sign" (duh), U+003E
"Single Right-Pointing Angle Quotation Mark", U+203A (note in the code they are two different sizes)
"Greek Phi", U+03A6

(Unfortunately, slashdot does not support these extended characters, as I found out. So I could not display all of them.)

Not sure about the rest. The triangle COULD be a Greek Delta, but usually that is represented as a triangle with its base flat, not turned sideways. I have no idea what to make of the squiggly-"8"-like symbol. The three-pointed symbol could be a Greek Lambda, and possibly the top line is a Greek Tau. For the rest? You guess is as good as mine. I don't have the patience to go through CHARMAP symbol by symbol. Hopefully someone else just KNOWS this stuff. :-p

I'm not a genius, so I'll leave this to the board to ponder some more. But the way I figure it, once you have the whole middle paragraph in hex, you should be able to translate it easily enough.

Re:Regarding TFB(A) (5, Funny)

zwei2stein (782480) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473186)

Obligatory:

1) FRANK@SHOEMAKER@WOULD@CALL@THIS@NOISE

2) ?

3) profit

(Filter error: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING ... jeez)

Part 2 (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473352)

I played around with the 2nd part a bit here is what I saw:

F0BE58F2FD636C79D2E493E6 code
311311323232311222312233 occurrences of each letter

010111000000000000100010 dots per sign
311212323022223202212222 straight lines per sign
000010000300001030030000 circles per sign

121221111211111211242121 disjunct figures

Interesting:

1) 4 has the only symbol made out of 4 elements. The number of dots, lines and circles can be coded base 4.
2) There are dots all over the paper which can be seen as NOISE. This might be a hint that the solution lies in the dots of the symbols.

My guess is that we can decode the message in the symbols using the employee number base 16.

That was ridiculously quick (5, Insightful)

everyplace (527571) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472172)

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!

Many eyes make all bugs shallow (5, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Many eyes make all bugs shallow (5, Insightful)

struppi (576767) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472582)

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.

Re:Many eyes make all bugs shallow (5, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Many eyes make all bugs shallow (2, Interesting)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473432)

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 form of validation. Everyone wants to be accepted, even those of the world that have been shunned by "normal" groups (these people are usually called Nerds, Dorks, Geeks, etc.)......this is just another way for these people to acheive it.

Layne

Re:Many eyes make all bugs shallow (1)

Erie Ed (1254426) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473798)

I am a nerd, dork, geek, whatever they call us, and I'm damn proud of it.

Re:Many eyes make all bugs shallow (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472710)

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.

Re:Many eyes make all bugs shallow (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473998)

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.
So, which is it: evidence to support your theory, or proof of your theory?

Personally, I don't see any connection between this and open/closed source software. I see this as proof that illegally stealing music/movies via p2p benefits society as a whole, and will use it to justify my illegal activities, while I grossly misinterpret/claim ignorance of the law.

Oh, shit, is my IANAL showing?

Re:That was ridiculously quick (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472706)

Makes me wonder if the NSA gets stuff like this on a regular basis.

Re:That was ridiculously quick (4, Insightful)

QuantumTheologian (1155137) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

solved within 7hrs... (5, Insightful)

adam (1231) | more than 6 years ago | (#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).

Re:solved within 7hrs... (5, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (0)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472402)

Numbers in BASE-E, or Base 14?

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472470)

My bad, I misread it as BASEE, not BASSE

I've got nothing.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (4, Interesting)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472496)

I'm not a cryptographer, but maybe it relates to musical notes (on a bass line rather than the standard EADGBE?).. in fact "would call this noise" also could suggest something similar, that the guy wouldn't enjoy the song the notes make? :p

Re:solved within 7hrs... (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472530)

Musical notes are mostly contained within hex too, though hex only goes up to F and musical notes go up to G. It would be cool if that's somehow related to the answer (after reading below, basse seems to just relate to someone's name/a building, how boring >.> ) :) But I'm off to work now, I'm not about to spend all day decoding a mysterious letter!

Re:solved within 7hrs... (2, Interesting)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473402)

From your theory, Bass E would be keyboard note E3 which is key 32 on a standard piano. It is also 164.814Hz.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (2, Interesting)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473452)

Further to my previous post, E3 is the hex representation of the ASCII code for pi:

ASCII Table [asciitable.com]

It's 227 in decimal.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (2, Interesting)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473680)

You may be on to something. Maybe the middle section are notes of a tune he didn't like? Like when your mom says rock and roll is just noise? Or maybe it's just random notes?(unlikely, I think)

A--------
G
F--------
E X here is our E
D--------
C
B--------
A
G--------

Those are the corresponding notes to the bass clef.

BASSE could be referring to the E below middle C (seen above) which is the 32nd key (from left to right or low to high on a piano) and is sometimes notated as E3.

Heres a link for non-musicians http://www.vibrationdata.com/piano.htm [vibrationdata.com]

IMHO, if he were to encode a song, it would probably be by piano key numbers, or E3 is the starting point (value of 0 or 1) although, that shouldn't make any difference at all.

A few more thoughts, 16 * 2 = 32.

14 unique symbols, thats 2 octaves of a 7 note scale (99% of what the average person has heard).

There are 24 'notes', possibly a song in 3/4, a waltz. (Think german drinking music, oom pa pa, oom pa pa. Or the underwater melody from Mario Bros.). That gives us 8 measures, plenty for a melody.

Burnt out for now, but coming back to this tomorrow.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (5, Interesting)

adam (1231) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 :(

Re:solved within 7hrs... (4, Interesting)

MoriaOrc (822758) | more than 6 years ago | (#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

Re:solved within 7hrs... (4, Interesting)

adam (1231) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.."

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

claygate (531826) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472962)

*Begin Stimpson J Cat voice*

The only significance I see is the number 24.

"25 columns in the last row of Stanza 1, 21 columns in the last row of Stanza 3" will need to be parsed somehow.

25-1=24

21+3=24

24 symbols

With the digits reversed, 24 = 42. One less than a non-cola or a Jim Carrey movie.

Ok, that was a bit tongue in cheek. It's cool how this has been partly decoded already. I wanted to play as well. Nothing to see here.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

iNaya (1049686) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473386)

Except the movie was called The Number 23

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

Bladesonfire (1242646) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473004)

Just like you, I'm anxious to post this and get some minds working on it: If you look up Robert Wilson on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , there's a picture with his ID on it. The number is 014. I haven't found a clever way to connect this with the HEX, though. Hopefully, someone else can.

Geoff also has been posting on xkcd forums [xkcd.com] (linked in case anything interesting shows up there).

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473268)

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?

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

Placido (209939) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473322)

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.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (3, Insightful)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473514)

Maybe the double S is to show the hidden mapping for the S symbol.....as E.

Does EFC mean anything?

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473558)

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.

5 Lines (1)

stupidflanders (1230894) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473430)

The first and third stanzas/paragraphs only technically have five lines. There are two indents. Note how the second stanza has only 5 lines (of mixed code) -- that's your clue right there.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473530)

The first stanza has 47 columns per row
46.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

MoriaOrc (822758) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473978)

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).

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473860)

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.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

Psychotria (953670) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472584)

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 (4, Interesting)

FlatWhatson (802600) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:solved within 7hrs... (3, Interesting)

JoeKilner (930306) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472638)

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:solved within 7hrs... (5, Interesting)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472668)

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.
 

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

TropicalCoder (898500) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473212)

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.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

famebait (450028) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473832)

Nah, if you're already doing cryptography, steganography is sort of a cop-out.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

Skinkie (815924) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472894)

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?

Re:solved within 7hrs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473084)

Noise as in PR advertisement!

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474094)

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 contains "III" in it, which strikes me as significant since the message is apparently encoded using only the "I" character (middle stanza excluded of course), though I imagine this is all probably me just getting completely sidetracked from not having slept since Sunday night.

basse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472482)

- are you aware that Basse and Bosse are nicknames in Swedish? Not sure for which names ..

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

jonfr (888673) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472498)

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.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473026)

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 :)

Re:solved within 7hrs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472800)

Notice that the top two lines have the "@" as spacers and the same character spacing in between. Looks like the guy did the hard part already, and the rest involves the substitution. At least he has the key given to him now with the top two lines. Now just a matter of figuring out where A rotates back to Z, or what have you. (Might be numbers and extended set characters too.) I'd try a matrix A-Z across and down, then longer ASCII sets, and then maybe try some shifting if that doesn't quite work out.

Maybe the middle part is a formula for creating some waveform, then you evaluate the values at some interval and shift the matrix up or down by that amount. So the top two lines are a key, and the formula acts as a modifier or filter layer on the key. Just guessing though.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

kitzkar (980045) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473298)

What if the S in BASSE can be replaced by A (as shown by the second Stanza)? That would result in BAAAE, which would be the hexa representation of 764590. I know, quite a strech.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473606)

It could be that the creator is not a native English speaker or is multi-lingual. The only language in which I could find it is French. It means "low". Unfortunately that doesn't seem too helpful to me, but might be to others.

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

JeepFanatic (993244) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473950)

From what I can find online - Frank Shoemaker is a Princeton professor working on neutrino detection. Here [fnal.gov] and here [fnal.gov] .

Re:solved within 7hrs... (2, Interesting)

JeepFanatic (993244) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474062)

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 have started to colonise the galaxy would have to rely on neutrino communications. And the astronomers reckon that the next generation of neutrino detectors should be sensitive enough to pick up ET's chatter."
(Emphasis mine). Coincidence?

Re:solved within 7hrs... (1)

EricR86 (1144023) | more than 6 years ago | (#23474100)

Basse is "low" in french. "Low sixteen" corresponding to the hex-like 2nd second stanza?

Rather lll lll ll l l ll l l ll l lll ll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472238)

Good work that man :)

Take the Bree Olsen Challenge (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472252)

I dare anyone here to watch Bree Olsen videos on http://www.tube8.com/ [tube8.com] in full and NOT ejaculate.

Try it for yourself and report back!

An additional link. (5, Informative)

legutierr (1199887) | more than 6 years ago | (#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]

Re:An additional link. (1)

Fully Functional (1174407) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472564)

And to think I thought the first part was a Stereogram, but the image wasn't good enought to make out wnything other than some boxes.

FRANK@SHOEMAKER@WOULD@CALL@THIS@NOISE (2, Funny)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472324)

This is by far the most convoluted way of getting someone's email adress spammed.

Re:FRANK@SHOEMAKER@WOULD@CALL@THIS@NOISE (2, Funny)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473302)

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 (5, Interesting)

byennie (1126011) | more than 6 years ago | (#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 (4, Interesting)

textstring (924171) | more than 6 years ago | (#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!

Almost isn't good enough! ;) (1)

njfuzzy (734116) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472442)

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.

Answer =! Question. (4, Funny)

kidsizedcoffin (1197209) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472580)

I got an answer of 42.

Re:Answer =! Question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472982)

Someone hurry up and solve this... I encoded my luggage combination and faxed it to Fermilab, but my flight got canceled and now I really need those boxers.
 

Re:Answer =! Question. (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473612)

That's strange, I got a message of "We apologize for the inconvenience".

'Basse' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472614)

The only 'basse' that I am aware of is a renaissance dance, which is usually in 3/2 time. The basse was the precursor of the pavanne. It may be a red herring, but John Downland composed a pavanne called 'The Shoemaker's Wife'

I think someone has already speculated that the hexidecimal section could be music of some sort. Is there also a Base/Basse/Bass/Noise pun at the heart of this?

Middle stanza not a key? (3, Interesting)

FalcDot (1224920) | more than 6 years ago | (#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:Middle stanza not a key? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23472940)

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' remains plain text.

Re:Middle stanza not a key? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473792)

I noticed that if you write out the symbols in order, 0-F, with 1 and C missing, if you fill in 1 with the unknown symbol below, "S", then you get IS> as the first three characters in the character map, with 2 being the > symbol.

Perhaps if you remove all the characters except 0 1 and 2 from the middle text those remaining mean something.

Another thing to consider is how many of those symbols are in the ascii table and what their ascii codes are.

The symbol for E, the right angle with a dot at the corner also seems familiar to me. As does the symbol for 2.

I seem to recall there being a code where you would draw a + and an X without dots in the corners, and one of each with the dots, and each portion would map to a letter, that I learned as a kid, but I don't know what the type of code is called and have no idea how to google something like that.

Re:Middle stanza not a key? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473886)

Well what do you know. I thought like a kid and searched for "secret codes" and found this boy scouts link. I was a memeber of the scouts when I was a kid, so that must be where I learned "pigpen":

http://www.scouting.org.za/codes/pigpen.html

In pigpen, the symbol for E would be B, and 2 would be U.

Unfortunately none of the other symbols seem to match up, so this is likely a dead end.

I don't understand the interest (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472694)

I don't understand the interest in this. It's just some code a person came up with. Why is decoding it so interesting?

Re:I don't understand the interest (1)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472720)

I don't understand the interest in this. It's just some code a person came up with. Why is decoding it so interesting?
Why did Hillary climb Everest?

Re:I don't understand the interest (5, Funny)

Zoolander (590897) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472864)

I don't understand the interest in this. It's just some code a person came up with. Why is decoding it so interesting?
Why did Hillary climb Everest?
She'll do anything to get a vote.

Re:I don't understand the interest (1)

bloodninja (1291306) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472750)

I don't understand the interest in this. It's just some code a person came up with. Why is decoding it so interesting?
For that matter, DNA is just code. All the 'noise' that SETI records may be just noise or may be code. We won't know unless someone tries to decode it.

Re:I don't understand the interest (2, Interesting)

LaskoVortex (1153471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472972)

For that matter, DNA is just code.

DNA is beyond just code. DNA can code for protein both forward and backwards in the same element, doubling the protien information its capable of specifying. The very same element can bind factors and contain "epigenetic" information in the form of modifications like methylation. It can also assume multiple three dimensional conformations, any of which can be decoded based on the cell's state or external stimuli. The information density of much of the genetic material in the planet is absolutely saturated. We look at DNA and apply Shannon's entropy to it and think we understand its information content. This is naivety. Shannon's entropy doesn't scratch the surface because the informational content of DNA depends on context, which is potentially infinite.

Message by time travel (1, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472758)

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 the originator wouldn't have sent them) and the harmless ones go through just fine. It's an interesting idea. How can you transmit important information this way ?

I won't spoil the book for you...

Re:Message by time travel (5, Informative)

DarkWicked (988343) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473916)

I won't spoil the book for you...
Because then we wouldn't purchase it through your affiliate link. Clever !

Basse Donnée system (BDS) (5, Interesting)

shungi (977531) | more than 6 years ago | (#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/ )

Second Stanza ANSI Block Characters (1)

wrook (134116) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472838)

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! (3, Funny)

g0dsp33d (849253) | more than 6 years ago | (#23472886)

The middle stanza says "I've wasted a million man hours".

Robert Wilson B-Day : day before letter received (1)

byennie (1126011) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473114)

See subject - he was first director of Fermilab, born March 4th, 1914. Letter was received on March 5th.

Also, if you:

1) Take each letter in the middle code, and replace it with its frequency (i.e. F = 3, D = 2, A = 0, etc)

2) Add up groups of 4 numbers in each line

You get:

3103 1132 3232 = 77A = 1914
3112 2231 2233 = 78A = 1930

The 1914 matches Wilson... but seems like a stretch...

Re:Robert Wilson B-Day : day before letter receive (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473492)

You get:

3103 1132 3232 = 77A = 1914
3112 2231 2233 = 78A = 1930

Wrong, you get:
3113 1132 3232 = 87A = 2170
3112 2231 2233 = 78A = 1930

Oh, but wait ... 2170 is the year BEFORE this code will be cracked, making this a encrypted recursive prophecy. GENIUS.

Maybe ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473278)


you need Frank employee number to decode the second part in base 16 ...

The Noise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473392)

A thought from a totally math-tarded person. The comments things "hidden in noise", and the "Basse" misspelling, perhaps it instead refers to "Bass E" as in a low E on a music scale?

I wasn't able to turn up any sort of connection between Frank Shoemaker and musical notes, but perhaps another person can? Or perhaps the numeric value of that note could lead one of you clever math types to decrypt the center section somehow? I dunno, just a thought.

Save It for the Geekend! (2, Funny)

FurtiveGlancer (1274746) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473448)

and get back to work. I pay you to code, not decode!" says the pointy haired boss. ]8O

he he (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473540)

æè±s

The ghosts at night shine so bright.
On the plains of a final frontier.
They mystify night by night.
Though they are better with beer.

B4SKmwmAxXsl836XDkvCla1KfbKM+wYIC5wYTxx6xxsZZ1Ks

40.383333Â, -3.716667Â

And the author was... (1)

davidc (91400) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473614)

... Charles M. Schulz.

What Is The Point? (1)

rhkaloge (208983) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473742)

Is someone trying to prove Fermilab employees are not so bright because they won't waste their time decoding a nerdy spam message? Considering they had it over a year before mentioning it to the public, it lost any publicity boost it might have for the authors. Leave our researchers alone and take this with your pie to the MENSA meeting.

It's not finished! (1)

curious_andy (1292546) | more than 6 years ago | (#23473874)

I don't think the entire reason for the symbols is just for show. Yes, this is a great example of what open community can do, but seriously what do the symbols mean? I've seen no one crack that yet. Frank Shoemaker did work at Fermi and at Princeton. I'm not certain what his area was, but Phi is the symbol for magnetic flux. Could it be that the symbols represent some error in data that Frank would dismiss as noise?

"Mostly" decoded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23473954)

I don't know if you can call the message "mostly" decoded. It seems that only the part that was meant to get decoded easily, right away, has been decoded. That just gives us enough information to peak our interest with tantalizing clues.
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