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The Binary Code In Canada's Gov-Gen Coat of Arms

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the always-drink-your-ovaltine dept.

Canada 486

Lev13than writes "Dr. David Johnston, formerly the president of the University of Waterloo, was installed as Canada's new Governor-General on Friday. As de facto head of state and the Queen's representative in Canada he is required to design a personal coat of arms. One modern detail has attracted particular attention - a 33-digit palindromic binary stream at the base. Efforts to decode the meaning of the number using ASCII, Morse, grouping by 3/11 and other theories has so far come up empty (right now it's a toss up between random, the phone number 683-077-0643 and Morse code for 'send help - trapped in a coat of arms factory.') Is 110010111001001010100100111010011 the combination to his luggage, or just a random stream of digits?"

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486 comments

EH (4, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782524)

all it says is EH

Not necessarily binary (5, Funny)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782608)

110010111001001010100100111010011 is 33 successive digits of pi (in decimal/binary/ternary/etc.). Cunningly, he did not choose the first 33 digits, of course.

Re:Not necessarily binary (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782642)

Neither the 33 last. I can tell because I just checked it.

Posted as AC for obvious reasons.

Re:EH (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782912)

Has anyone considered that the guy is Canadian and maybe, just maybe, inserted an extra '0' in there while sounding it out?

0010110100100 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782526)

Let me be the first to say: 0010101101000100.

Random? (5, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782540)

I think it's safe to assume that it's an aesthetically pleasing bit of random binary to symbolically carry the message that he's in with technology, in much the same way one might tattoo some bitching runes onto one's arm to convey how one is incredibly down with the druids.

Possibly you're right (1, Offtopic)

twisteddk (201366) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782578)

The downside is that what's gibberish to you and me, may be legible to someone else, and what's worse is it may convey a terrible message.

While I've only HEARD of people who's had "chop suey £3.99" tatooed in chinesse, I've actually seen phtotos of a guy who thought he had some bitching Viking runes tatooed, and they were horribly mispelled (I will not divulge the nature of the error, but suffice to say, he's not likely to hook up with any women who can read any scandinavian language)

So I only hope it's not random, but rather something we have not decifered yet.

Re:Possibly you're right (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782746)

Reminds me of this guy at the airport one day -- three Japanese characters on his neck. They were in katakana. They meant nothing. Nothing at all! And they were on his neck! What a place to put a mistake of a tattoo?!

Can get even worse (4, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782774)

It can get even worse. At least "chop suey $3.99" is clear where is came from.

Funnier stories are those like the guy who got "pig meat" in chinese letters because it was copied off a can of that. But I'd imagine that the latter realization comes after seeing that this guy has "pig meat" written on him. Yeah.

Then there was the guy who thought he got a tattoo saying "wise dog that guards the pack", but it actually meant "dog's ass".

In the same vein of "you're not going to get hooked up with any woman that can read that", one guy got a tattoo which he thought was totally bad ass, until a Japanese girl told him it means "abusive husband". Well, I guess at least it works as a warning.

Conversely one woman got the longer version of that, and it translated to "my abusive husband beats me." It's one of the things that aren't even funny but make one wonder if she got ripped off or it's a cry for help.

Though to be entirely fair, apparently cool kids in Beijing tattoo themselves with nonsensical combinations of English letters too, like "TWARP", "GWIPO", "FRUNK" and get told by unscrupulous tattoo parlor artists that they mean stuff like "old soul with young spirit" in English. (Actual example. If you were wondering what FRUNK means in English, now you know;)) Also apparently both CRYMPH and DLECH mean "beautiful flower dancing in the wind" in American according to one tattoo parlour in Beijing. In case you were wondering ;)

Luckily individual letters are not whole words in the Latin alphabet, so most are just nonsense. But you just have to wonder if there's some brave soul somewhere in China wearing a tattoo that says "I suck cock" and thinks it means "loyalty, courage, honour" ;)

That said, since runes were an alphabetic system, I would assume most of those are equally nonsense combinations. I wouldn't wonder if some guys out there were running around with tattoos that just say "FUTHARK" because someone just copied the first characters of the runic alphabet.

Re:Random? (4, Informative)

Grant_Watson (312705) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782768)

The blazon [archive.gg.ca] (the heraldic technical description) of the arms is what officially defines them, and it doesn't include the particular sequence of digits; it just says "in base a bar wavy Sable inscribed with zeros and ones Or."

So even if it means something, that particular sequence is just the artist's interpretation; somebody else who redrew the arms would be entitled to change it. Most likely, it's just what the artist liked visually.

Can't we just ask? (5, Insightful)

kikito (971480) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782554)

I mean, the guy that designed this is still alive, isn't he?

Re:Can't we just ask? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782688)

He already told us the answer:

The wavy band inscribed with zeros and ones represents a flow of information, digital communication and modern media.

Re:Can't we just ask? (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782890)

He already told us the answer:

The wavy band inscribed with zeros and ones represents a flow of information, digital communication and modern media.

...signifying nothing.

Re:Can't we just ask? (2, Insightful)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782954)

I mean, the guy that designed this is still alive, isn't he?

What? And spoil an available conspiracy theory? You must be new here!?

(Drum roll, awaiting "New Here's" joke.)

Seeing patterns in the random (3, Informative)

cjfs (1253208) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782560)

"Hey we need something to make the coat of arms look more modern" "How about that code in the matrix?" "Just put a bunch of 1s and 0s along the bottom"

And then an intern typed enough 1s and 0s to fill up the available space, trying to make it look random.

Re:Seeing patterns in the random (4, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782906)

The probability to get a palindrome this way is rather low (1/65536 for a string of 33 binary digits, to be exact).

Palindrome (2, Interesting)

dissy (172727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782576)

The first thing I notice is the binary string is a palindrome, the same forwards or backwards.

Being 33 digits, that is just strange. Dropping the first 1 to make 32 would be more fitting, but the first digit is still a 1, so unless he is into ANSI art, I doubt this is ascii encoding.

Just the fact it is the same both ways leads me to think an artist designed it, a lot more so than it converts to anything meaningful.

Which is a shame really, but not unexpected.

Re:Palindrome (0, Offtopic)

dissy (172727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782596)

And after reading the article, it seems they noticed the same thing!

Wonder why that option was left out of the summary, as it seems the most likely. Silly editors

Re:Palindrome (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782634)

And after reading the article, it seems they noticed the same thing!

Wonder why that option was left out of the summary, as it seems the most likely. Silly editors

You mean the link you clicked on to read the article that has the text "33-digit palindromic binary stream"? That link?

Re:Palindrome (4, Insightful)

binkzz (779594) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782600)

The first thing I notice is the binary string is a palindrome, the same forwards or backwards.

From the summary:

"One modern detail has attracted particular attention: a 33-digit palindromic binary stream at the base."

Re:Palindrome (0, Redundant)

dissy (172727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782624)

Wow it must be late. My eyes totally skipped that word.
Well don't I feel silly.

Even more reason to believe it is totally artistic and not a meaningful translation of anything though, as coat of arms and crests tend to do that sort of thing over the entire imagery, typically only exception for items added in later, which doesn't seem to be the case here.

Still, it's amusing to think how many people will spend their Monday trying to decode this heh

Re:Palindrome (4, Interesting)

binkzz (779594) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782732)

Even more reason to believe it is totally artistic and not a meaningful translation of anything though, as coat of arms and crests tend to do that sort of thing over the entire imagery, typically only exception for items added in later, which doesn't seem to be the case here.

Still, it's amusing to think how many people will spend their Monday trying to decode this heh

Yea, and while I agree with you that it's most likely a random number, I can't help but keep wondering. That it's a prime number doesn't help much either.

If you were the designer, what would you encode? It's hardly big enough to fit a four letter word in. I think I would probably go with the boring ol' date of birth.

Re:Palindrome (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782918)

The binary is certainly just visual - it's the same both ways (a 16-digit sequence mirrored away (or towards) the '1' in the middle), and a 33-digit binary sequence doesn't mean anything at all, and neither does the 16 digit sequence... the best I could find was, leading towards the centre (with or) without the trailing '1': " Ë’ ". So it's just 'style', eh.

How tragically, almost-imaginatively, Canadian - and I'm speaking as a Canadian. And a Canadian graphic artist to boot!

Re:Palindrome (2, Interesting)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782968)

Wait a sec - if the artist had used '01100101 01101000' (reading away from a middle '0', ), the binary would have translated into 'eh'. Now ~that~ would mean something Canadian!

Re:Palindrome (4, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782650)

The first thing I notice is the binary string is a palindrome, the same forwards or backwards.

This is to prevent Soviet Russia jokes from working in Soviet Canada.

Re:Palindrome (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782668)

The first thing I notice is the binary string is a palindrome, the same forwards or backwards.

This is to prevent Soviet Russia jokes from working in Soviet Canada.

He's the Governor General. It reads: "In Soviet Canada, the taxes pay YOU"

Re:Palindrome (3, Informative)

DrSkwid (118965) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782762)

Not all binary codes are powers of two.

For instance using 5311 instead of 8421

5311
0000 0
0001 1
0011 2
0100 3
0101 4
1000 5
1001 6
1011 7
1100 8
1101 9
1111 10

There are also grey codes from the days of rotaty dialling

Re:Palindrome (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782926)

Another thing I noticee: If you omit the middle bit, you get the same number of 0s and 1s. With the middle bit (which is 1, BTW) you of course can't get that, but it's as close to being balanced as possible.

Re:Palindrome (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782928)

Being 33 digits, that is just strange. Dropping the first 1 to make 32 would be more fitting, but the first digit is still a 1, so unless he is into ANSI art, I doubt this is ascii encoding.

He could be using one of those new fangled 33-bit processors from a startup company. You know, "Now with more digit power than your 32-bit processors ever dreamed of! Never lose the leading digit to that pesky sign bit again!"

palindrome (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782584)

It's symmetrical, so probably just random code for aesthetics.

Although I hope I'm wrong -- it'd be cool if it contains meaning as well. And just running random number for the effect of code is a disheartening waste of opportunity, and makes a sad statement about preferring form over function.

Re:palindrome (1)

martas (1439879) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782630)

makes a sad statement about preferring form over function

i think you've got that backwards - the function here is to be aesthetically pleasing. putting any special meaning in it would just be for the sake of, well, fun.

110010111001001010100100111010011? (2, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782592)

I think that translates into: CNUS, Canada's Not the United States.

The numbers are wrong (1)

WarJolt (990309) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782606)

It equals to 0x1972549D3. The article is wrong.

Re:The numbers are wrong (wild guess) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782690)

The part after 19725 is the repeating palindrome part. Maybe "May 1972" was an important month for Mr. Johnston? I could _imagine_ that it's printed as a palindrome to have the correct sequence even when displayed mirrored? (Like NATO aircrafts also have OTAN printed on them.)
As said, just wild guessing here. It reminds me of the fact, that you'll find sense in any number if you just search long enough :)

Re:The numbers are wrong (wild guess) (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782740)

That OTAN is NATO backwards is incidental, mirroring is not the reason for it. The reason is that France succeeded in demanding French as an official Nato language. OTAN = Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord.

There is no use for mirrored writing on airplanes, they fly too fast for your cars rear-view mirror, and planes that do have rear view mirror wouldn't wait 'till the bogey is a couple of yards behind them to find out who he is.

Re:The numbers are wrong (wild guess) (5, Informative)

Gobelet (892738) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782764)

NATO aircrafts have OTAN printed on it because the two official languages used in NATO are English and French. OTAN means Organisation du Traité de l'Atlantique Nord.

Re:The numbers are wrong (wild guess) (5, Funny)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782942)

Canadian planes should have 'NATOTAN' written on them to please the speakers of both languages ('NATO' 'stylishly' mirrored around the 'O'). Of course, for the Japanese, that acronym would read 'achieving a darker skin tone by slathering yourself in fermented beans'.

Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782618)

The number is a prime. No idea if that's a coincidence or if it is significant in any way. Approximately 1 in 20 numbers are prime in the vicinity of that number, which is the 316336192-th prime.

Tough one (5, Funny)

nfk (570056) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782626)

If he were from New Zealand I would say it's a binary solo, but being from Canada I'm not sure.

This is a "try" of random (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782636)

This looks exactly like somebody trying to make a random binary number. But failing...
In real random binary numbers there are far longer lines of 1 or 0.
This is a well known misjudgement.

Fashion it is!

Re:This is a "try" of random (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782874)

Rubbish. Any given binary number is as likely as any other binary number of the same bit length. Finding strings of 1s and 0s of a particular length isn't a test of randomness. 0101010101010 and 111111111111 are just as likely to have been generated randomly.

The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782640)

This number is a prime: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palindromic_prime in base 2.
In decimal it is: 6830770643

Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782694)

In base 2, every number is prime.

Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782806)

yes, I keep telling people 11 is not a prime, but they won't listen.

Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782872)

In base 10, 11 is a prime number.
In binary, 3 is also a prime number.
Hexadecimal it's 17, which is a prime number.

In octal, it's 19, which is not prime.
Aha!

Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (1)

tzot (834456) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782924)

What is 19 base 8?
No, 11 base 5 is not prime, and that suffices.

Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (2, Informative)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782964)

Please hand in your math license. The encoding has nothing to do with the property whether a number is prime or not. 4 base 10 is as prime as 100 base 2 (i.e. not at all)

Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (1)

bcmm (768152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782844)

Mystery solved, I guess. Also, that is very cool.

Re:The number is a Palindromic Prime in base 2. (4, Interesting)

horza (87255) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782894)

Well found. The page also explains for dissy above why it has 33 digits:

"Except for 11, all palindromic primes have an odd number of digits, because the divisibility test for 11 tells us that every palindromic number with an even number of digits is a multiple of 11."

Phillip.

This sounds like a job for... (5, Funny)

bhunachchicken (834243) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782646)

... Robert Langdon!!! I'm sure that buried somewhere in that seemingly random sequence of 1s and 0s is a code that will shake the very foundations of the human race and expose a truth that has long been hidden!

I can already hear Dan Brown feverishly scratching away at his notepad, as he begins researching and stringing together a load geographically accurate, but ultimately randomly contrived pile of nonsense for his next magnum opus, "The Canada Complex"

Contemplare meliora (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782662)

"Better think"? :P

Indexes into the text string above (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782670)

Cool of him to do this, I think.

If I was going to do something like this, I would not pick an arbitrary standard, which is all ASCI really is, but something that is more fundamental.

Maybe the binary is indexes into the string above it, "Contemplare meliora" ?
I could not quickly find a good word that way, so I leave it as an exercise for the reader...

43-Man Squamish? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782672)

Has anybody checked if this means anything in Swxwú7mesh (Squamish)? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%E1%B8%B5wx%CC%B1w%C3%BA7mesh [wikipedia.org]

Now if it had been 43 bits, instead of 33, that would have been a total giveaway that it is a reference to 43-Man Squamish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/43-Man_Squamish [wikipedia.org]

Re:43-Man Squamish? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782698)

I was thinking in terms of streams where a frame is extended by setting one bit. Handy if space is limited.

base64? (2, Funny)

hitmark (640295) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782676)

The base64 result, y5Kk6QE=, reminds me of something a url shortener would spit out. But i am unsure which it would be.

Re:base64? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782710)

You are saying "This random number looks like other random numbers I have seen". I don't think you have thought this through.

It means absolutely nothing (1)

denelson83 (841254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782692)

It's just meant to look good. And besides, since the blazon just says "ones and zeroes", you can feel free to put any binary number in that space.

It's a sync sequence. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782696)

It's a symmetrical binary sequence. These are used to sync communication signals because of their auto-correlation properties. It's doubtful there is any meaningful content to this binary, as being symmetrical is too much of a coincidence.

Quiet Eh? (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782714)

These are the launch codes for our nuclear arsenal eh,

We Canucks are just too polite to keep them secret. I'm sorry.

Simple (2, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782728)

It's meaning is "I bet I can get a bunch of geeks to waste a lot of time trying to decipher this meaningless message!"

To quote Kryten (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782730)

Clearly it's android for "if you don't GOSUB a subroutine you'll never get a program loop".

Ask an authority (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782736)

While everyone else is searching the Internet, I simply asked an expert on The Great White North--

Mr. McKenzie, what does this mean?

Ahhh! Take off, you hoser!

3 bytes including ECC (1)

Nedmud (157169) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782738)

ISTR (from an abortive combinatorics course) that there's a commonly used encoding that provides 3 bits of ECC for each 8-bit byte. Could this string be 3 simple bytes with ECC?

World Population (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782742)

It is pretty close to the estimated world population. Pop the number into a 64 bit binary calculator, convert to dec, violla! 6,830,770,643.

Symmetric number? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782790)

It looks like the numbers are symmetric. Except for the 0101 in the middle.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782798)

You have to read it properly: 1100 1011 1001 0010 1 0100 1001 1101 0011

So,
1100 ---> 0011
1011 ---> 1101
1001 ---> 1001
0010 ---> 0100 ...And 1 (the function probably)
Quite redundant message, so it looks like some artist signiture ;)

The Body Electric (1)

DarthBender (1071972) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782820)

Obviously he is a Rush fan and this is an ode to 'The Body Electric'

1001001 SOS
1001001 in distress
100100oooooh

4 8 15 16 23 42 (1)

Fractal Dice (696349) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782828)

110010111001001010100100111010011 may or may not mean anything now, but hopefully by the time he leaves office we'll have wormed cryptic references to them into every nook and cranny of the country :)

Heraldry fan here (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782842)

Because the binary code is palindromic I think it is a symbol more than a message. In heraldry, symmetry can be an style in your weapon and looking at the weapon itself, it is vertically symmetric. Including a message in binary code in your motto could be an idea but since the weapon already has a motto (namely "Comtemplare Meloria") it can be seen as sort of an achievement and could indicate knowlegde(or degrees) in the area of computer science.

I am not fully sure what to think about this weapon since it is certainly a non-standard one but my best guess is that people are looking for to much into the binary code as a message.

It is definitely his phone number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782902)

It is made up of 11 base-3 numbers, which convert to 62711244723. Which in turn is a base-8 number which converts to 6830770643. The telephone number mentioned in the article.

Obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782978)

It's quite obvious to me.

He stole the time code from Bender before harvesting him for his precious dolemite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EXpYhJk7BI

It's The Answer (1)

sco08y (615665) | more than 3 years ago | (#33782988)

If the number is converted to base 47, the sum of the digits, mod 47, is 42.

Coincidence? I think not.

Is it a date? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33782990)

Original - 110010111001001010100100111010011

Break apart - 1100101110010010 1 0100100111010011

1100101110010010 1=Parity
0100100111010011 (xor)

1100101111010011 = 52179

21st May 1979

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