Saturday, November 1, 2003

Arenít you mad yet?
Aditya Rishi

no one can solve it and not go mad
ab cde fgh ijklm no pqr stu vw xyz

"THE cipher message from the chief was: "aaaesen nnn odttano ntee otooed," about which the Bushmenís spy had said: "No one can solve it and not go mad." Those aspiring to solve it have filled a madhouse this week.

The Bushmen grew so frustrated solving it that their skulls cracked and their brains dropped out. Without their brains, they couldnít win any more wars... everyone succumbed to the pressure. The words of the Bushmenís spy were the key to solving this puzzle. Place the alphabet beneath this phrase, letter beneath letter (as shown in the box).

We find that a stands for g, p, y; c stands for f; d stands for r, z; e stands for e, m; g stands for v; i stands for n; l stands for k; m stands for x; n stands for a, d, h, q, s; o stands for b, c, j, t, w; s stands for i; t stands for o, u; and v stands for l.

In this manner, n and o stand for five letters each and a stands for three, while d, e and t represent two each. Thirteen characters are made to perform the operations of the whole alphabet.

Poet Edgar Allan Poe writes: "The result of such a key-phrase upon the cipher is to give it the appearance of a mere medley of letters (n, o, a, d, e and t in this case) with the character representing greater number of letters predominating." It is advisable to write the cipher using letters that are inordinately prevalent in most languages ó e and i.

A letter thus written being intercepted, and the key-phrase unknown, the individual who should attempt to decipher it may be imagined guessing, or otherwise attempting to convince himself, that a certain character(a, for example,) represented the letter g. Looking throughout the cryptograph for confirmation of this idea, he would meet with nothing but a negation of it.

He would see the character in situations where it could not possibly represent g. He might, for instance, be puzzled by three Ďaís coming together in a single word, without the intervention of any other character; in which case, of course, these could not be all gís. This may be clear now after we are in possession of the key-phrase; but the question will, no doubt, occur, how, without the key-phrase, and without cognizance of any single letter in the cipher, it would be possible for the interceptor of such a cryptograph to make anything of such a word as "nnn"?

Imagine the word "nnn" presenting itself in a cryptograph to the person for whom the cipher is designed, and who has the key-phrase. What is he to do with such a word?

The message from the chief was: "Pygmies had brought some butter." All major wars in a certain continent are fought over food, but thatís another story. (Write at The Tribune or