In the spirit of recent puzzles/challenges, I thought I might throw in one of my own. In high school, my class was given an exercise to come up with a coded message that the rest of the class would have to work out the cipher to.
I didn’t take it that seriously at the time and put in some sort of lame effort at home that afforded me the most time in front of the Commodore-64 instead. Most other kids did the same. Clearly the teacher had been hoping that someone in the class was a secret genius and would put together something brilliant. His disappointment when this did not occur was palpable.
I got thinking afterward that it was a wasted opportunity. I quite like puzzles, I like being creative, but I’d never put the two together. I spent a little bit of time coming up with something that might have been worthy of the assignment. I never did anything with it, or showed it to anyone, but I was reasonably sure that no one in that class at least would be able to figure it out. I should have put my money where my mouth was then. I might have been able to turn a profit betting people they couldn’t solve it in a given time limit. Ah well, hindsight is 20/20 as they say.
Instead, I present my code and the message it contains and invite you to work out the key. If you do figure it out, please don’t post the solution, but I’d be really interested to hear about how you went about attacking the problem, so by all means leave a comment.
The message: the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
IMPORTANT EDIT: In a moment of paranoia I double-checked my key and noted that there is a small change to the decoded message. In the coded text, ‘jumps’ is actually ‘jumped’. To those of you who have started, I apologise profusely. This means that there is an extra letter to the message than you thought you were dealing with, and rather than an ‘s’, you have a ‘d’ and an ‘e’.
The revised decoded message is:
The message: the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog
The coded message:
n g o c w u o y j r
f l l l q m v e k
o i y k b v r x a
k s e a t d i b o
v h a v e u i p l
edit: James Bach has rightly pointed out that I could have worded my challenge a little more clearly.
There are an infinite number of keys that can associate your output with your input. For instance, the key might be simply to look at the first letter in the top left, and “n” means “quick brown fox…”
My intention is that people would attack this problem as though they did not know what the message was in an attempt to resolve the letters presented into the answer provided. I had a particular key in mind when I put it together, so the letters do resolve into the message given.
Okay, so a few people have asked for hints.
Here’s the deal – I’ll post a few hints, but I’m curious to know what you’ve tried and what you thought. I’ve posted one hint below. I will post more, but I’d like to know – How did you approach the problem? What strategies did you employ? What effect did the hint(s) have?
|There are red herrings|
|There is a hint in the layout|
|Some letters are overloaded (have more than 1 meaning)|
Congratulations to Rushmila Islam, who has at least worked out the message component, if not the complete cipher (which is trivial once the message is in-hand). Here’s another pangram (one with all the letters this time).
The coded message:
k e i f v a l p q u w
b m a g n z i e c e
m g d r w o o t a h
y j a w u x a g e s
I kinda wish I’d put this one up first now. It looks trickier 🙂
Rushmila (or anyone else) – care to post the decoded message?