The alchemical magnum opus was sometimes expressed as a series of chemical operations. In cases where these numbered twelve, each could be assigned one of the Zodiac signs as a form of cryptography. The following example can be found in Pernety’s 1758 “Mytho-Hermetic Dictionary”:
Hello Gravity Falls fandom! If you have the journal, like me, and you’re eager to solve the cryptograms, like me, you may have noticed that much of the code in the journal is not in either of the twoknown gravity falls symbol ciphers. Instead, it appears to be in a completely new cipher. The key to this cipher can be found opposite the Trust No One page:
Each number next to the symbol corresponds with a letter of the alphabet.
So if you want to use this key to decode the secrets awaiting you in this book, just flip it open to that page or use the key I set up, and get codebreakin’!
It is possible to define a consistent addition of points on certain kinds of curves (elliptic curves). This arithmetic plays an important role in modern mathematics. For instance, Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s last theorem is a consequence of the modularity theorem (once known as the Taniyama-Shimura-Weil conjecture), which gives a strong connection between elliptic curves and modular forms. Elliptic curves over finite fields also have cryptographic applications, or can be used for integer factorization.
Cicada 3301 is perhaps the most mysterious seemingly Internet-based organization in the history of online mysteries. Since 2012, the group has posted numerous puzzles online under that name and has made no reference as to what it does or even where it is from. No one knows who runs it, assuming it really is an organization, or even the name of a single member. Cicada 3301 is able to keep its reputation with so little information strictly because of the interesting scavenger hunt of sorts it has released for three years running.
It all started on January 5, 2012 when a 4chan user posted a steganography clue on the “random” board. The image stated that Cicada 3301 was looking for “intelligent” people. In fact, the word used was “recruiting.” For what, no one has said and Cicada 3301 is certainly keeping it a secret. The image hid a clue that takes some level of specialized knowledge to find. It involved a Caesar cipher, which is pretty standard crypto, but the rest took at least some technical knowledge.
From there, and in future puzzles, clues varied greatly in skill-set necessary for solving and even location. Some of the clues were in physical locations, making it necessary for people who could not reach the clues to use posts on the Internet to get further in the hunt. Moreover, some of the references in the clues are pop culture, literature and other non-tech topics.
Some have touted the Cicada 3301 puzzles as unsolvable. This is not true. Several have solved the hunt and have allegedly received emails from the organization. Still, no one has come forward and stated what they were recruited to do, if anything. Judging by the puzzles, it is possible that Cicada 3301 is simply a cyber group like Anonymous. Of course, there is also the possibility that it is really MI6, the CIA or a similar organization. Information security, cryptography and a number of other skills necessary to crack the puzzles offered by Cicada would be helpful to virtually any large organization, which makes it hard to discover who is behind it. In fact, this would not be the first time an organization used such tactics to recruit new members. We have to assume that Cicada succeeded on that front, as it stated that it found the people it needed after the first puzzle. It began all over again on January 5, 2013 and again on January 5, 2014, so it must be an ongoing recruitment effort.
At this juncture, it is impossible to tell when these recruitment efforts from Cicada 3301 will stop, but that is not stopping people from looking forward to the next year’s puzzles. It may not be a very public honor, but it must be satisfying to know you have reached the end of one of the most famous puzzles in Internet history.
Few annotations, but lots of evidence of use in a copy of Samuel Archivolti’s Arugath Ha-bosem (Venice: Giovanni di Gara, 1602), an Hebrew grammar that includes a chapter on steganography and cryptography. It would be interesting to know what all the little marks and math problems scrawled in this book might mean, and who might have made them. The two images below the the open book picture are details of the front pastedown. One shows that a small sliver of paper has been carefully excised.
Can u help explain the "illegal number" to me? There's a lot of unrecognized vocab on the Wikipedia that would require me to do like an hour of research to understand just why it's illegal or what it does. If not, can u direct me to some1 who can?thx
This might be oversimplifying, but basically it’s a number that you use to decrypt something– in this case a movie on a HD-DVD or Blu-Ray. But it’s actually just a big number– in this case, it’s
13,256,278,887,989,457,651,018,865,901,401,704,640. (The format that’s in the bot is hexadecimal, meaning base-16, as opposed to what we normally use, which is base-10.)
That number is basically the key* that unlocks the movie itself; the device playing the movie has to have it in order to play it. The Motion Picture Association of America didn’t want people distributing this key, because they could use it to unlock their movies and rip them to their own hard drives, upload them to websites or torrents, etc. (This is a form of Digital Rights Management, or DRM.)
The Motion Picture Association of America started sending out cease and desist orders to people who posted this number online; it was a big deal in the anti-DRM/copyright activism/etc circles at the time. A lot of people thought the idea of having an “illegal number” was ridiculous, and that the idea that you could copyright a *number* was absurd. Since the hexadecimal (09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0) is really easy to fit into plain text posts, people just started posting it all over the internet, becoming a kind of… activist meme, I guess?
I hope that explains it, because that’s about all the detail I know– there’s some more cultural context around why it happened that way, but I’m far from a crypto expert. (There’s got to be a crypto side of tumblr though, right?)
*It’s actually a bit more complicated than this– there are multiple “keys” that you need to unlock the movie’s content, and this number is just one of them.
I did some more Gravity Falls fan art. With a hidden black light message :D
It also has a cipher in it because I love the show’s obsession with cryptography. (Longtime followers might recall the short comic I did in college containing an encrypted message). If you can solve this one I will grant you two wishes!! Hint: it is digraphic
- What’s that you’re reading? - It’s about cryptography. - Like… Secret messages? - Not secret: that’s the brilliant part. Messages that anyone can see, but no one knows what they mean, unless you have the key. - How’s that different from talking? - Talking? - When people talk to each other, they never say what they mean. They say something else, and you’re expected to just know what they mean. Only I never do. So, how’s that different? - Alan, I have a funny feeling you’re going to be very good at this.
Alan Turing & Christopher Morcom, from the movie “The Imitation Game”