Note to readers: I have a little more detail (including an explanation for the spelling of “BASSE”) up at Fermilab’s Strange Letter – Interlude.

Well, now we’re getting somewhere with the strange letter Fermilab received. For context, Fermilab (a theoretical physics laboratory) recieved a strange letter in code a year ago that they’ve now released to the public. It can be seen here.

Ternary Paragraph

The first paragraph is made entirely of three different symbols, I, II, and III.

If we let I=1, II=2, and III=0 we have:

020 200 001 112 102
000 201 022 120 012
111 001 102 012 200
000 212 120 210 110
011 000 010 001 110
110 000 202 022 100
201 000 112 120 100
201 012

Note that this transcription assumes that the “I” at the end of line 6 and the “II” at the start of line 7 are in fact a single “III”. Now let’s assume that since there are 27 possible combinations in these ternany units, each corresponds to a letter of the alphabet (26 total) or a space (add 1 for 27). A naive mapping would be:

Combination Mapping 1
000 A
001 B
002 C
010 D
011 E
012 F
020 G
021 H
022 I
100 J
101 K
102 L
110 M
111 N
112 O
120 P
121 Q
122 R
200 S
201 T
202 U
210 V
211 W
212 X
220 Y
221 Z
222 (space)

This gives:


“GSBOLATIPFNBLFSAXPVMEADBMMAUIJTAOPJTF” doesn’t seem too helpful. Perhaps a different map would be more appropriate? Let’s vary the first naive mapping slightly.

Combination Mapping 1 Mapping 2
000 A (space)
001 B A
002 C B
010 D C
011 E D
012 F E
020 G F
021 H G
022 I H
100 J I
101 K J
102 L K
110 M L
111 N M
112 O N
120 P O
121 Q P
122 R Q
200 S R
201 T S
202 U T
210 V U
211 W V
212 X W
220 Y X
221 Z Y
222 (space) Z

This is a very simple mapping, we just set space to be 000 instead of 222. We get a very interesting result:


“FRANK SHOEMAKER WOULD CALL THIS NOISE”. Frank Shoemaker worked on the main ring of Fermilab. It seems very unlikely to me that this is coincidence.

Binary Paragraph

Now if we look at the last paragraph, it’s clearly different than the first in terms of notation. Only I and II are used.

However, if we assume that “II” is a separator and “I”=1 “I I”=2, and “I I I”=0, we get the following:

012 111 121 110 120
221 012 012 000 112
210 111 002 012 200
000 002 001 201 201
012 000 201 100 220
202 012 012 112

Note that this transcription assumes an error. At the end of line 2 and the beginning of line 3 there is a section “I I I I I I I I” that is assumed to mean 000 when it should read “I I I II I I I II I I I”. If we use Mapping 2 to substitute in a manner like before we get the following:


“EMPLOYEE NUMBER BASSE SIXTEEN” – which clicks with the hexadecimal numbers and corresponding symbols in the middle! Note that the mapping is simply the first “naive” mapping offset by one.

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? It’s AFC (employee number 2812), who works on the AFC (Absorber Focus Coil, 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) which states “At 802, with only three digits, Matthews’ employee number reflects the length of his 25-year tenure at the Lab”.

The only thing left is rigorously figuring out the meaning of the hexadecimal section in my opinion. What does everyone else think?

255 thoughts on “Fermilab’s Strange Letter – Progress

  1. I agree with Nimblesquirrel @ 150 (and before).

    The answer lies in identifying the unicode characters.

    If the middle paragraph is an equation, it would have been natural to first write it in unicode and then scramble the code in some way.

  2. Has anyone yet converted the hex to ternary then decoded as above, in groups of three trits? I.e. not ternary equivalent of hex chars, but ternary equivalent of the single 24-digit hex number?

  3. I decided to try my hand at this just for fun. Converted the second binary paragraph into proper numbers and ran it thru a binary to ASCII translator. Here’s the thing.. it refused the entire paragraph, but breaking it up into parts actually got some results: The supposed employee numbers wern’t in there but close numbers were, however to me it looked more like the codes used to indicate which keys are pressed on the keyboard: U*‰¤”R)

  4. Okay.. message system actually accepted that as keycodes for some reason, forced me to make another post to continue. As seen above it almost automatically translated it into text from a random code. Of course, the result seems to be jibberish – Except that one of those symbols matches up with one of the middle gylph section standing for “5”. I’m not sure how far I could continue with this. The numbers generated by a direct ASCII binary translation are: #8240 #164 #8221

  5. Nice decoding job. My guess for the rest:

    I think the middle part is a 96-bit hash code followed by s FC meaning “signed FC”. You write a document, then you compute the hash code. You publish the hash code in order to prove the existence of the document at a particular time. In this case, the reason is to prove that the author had made a discovery in 2007. Presumably the author is continuing to work on this and doesn’t want to publish early. The hash code gives him a proof of priority.

    The author made two errors while assembling the code. In the original version, the third portion was missing and the second portion was not transferred. Then he realized that there was no reason to hide the hash code so he translated it for us. And then he realized that the “sFC” also needed proof (in case some other employee would claim to have sent in the document) so he added “employee number base 16” to the letter. Since this was an after thought, he barely was able to fit it onto the document.

    I would guess that the letter was written by employee number xFC = 252.

  6. A couple of thoughts, but first some background.

    I’m a truck driver, so take this however you like. I used to be a net admin, but got burnt out on it. Now I dink with tech things as a hobby.

    Now, my thoughts.

    1. The person named has been in the business a long time, and is retired. He’s been around long enough to remember that, before ASCII, there was EBCDC.
    2. The hex code, if rendered to binary, could be taken like the first and fourth “stanzas” of the letter. Replace the 0s with spaces and use the 1s groupings as either trinary or quadrary numbers for translation.
    3. It is entirely possible that the “solution” to the first “stanza” is to be used to decode the second, and so on, and so on, much like that statue at CIA headquarters.

    That’s all I have. Enjoy.

  7. My boss used to work over at fermi lab next to Frank Shoemaker. After I told him about this he said the most likely meaning is that there are some younger less experienced physicists who have preliminary data that they want to publish but an older and wiser one is trying to point out that it could also just be outliers and noise. If you want to decrypt the remainder of the data, it might be good to look into the most “cutting edge” experiments that are going on over there at the moment.

  8. Maybe whoever sent this was trying to say that, random
    data which would be called noise by shoemaker, can contain
    information from outer space sent in the form of neutrinos.

  9. Two ideas:

    Try converting the hex code in part two into ternary, then solve it the same as in parts one and three.

    The sFC at the end of part two may refer to FC Shoemaker, but I think the ‘s’ has a double use. As mentioned, it is not represented in the pictograph to hex translation and could potentially be either 1 or A (ie, 10). Other than the double s, the employee number consists of all hex characters. The ss could be substituted from above. This could then establish the employee number in part three as either 111010101416 or 1110111516. Either of which is out of bounds for the 14000ish max. Possibly, take BA11E 16, and translate that in ternary.

    Hmm, I’ll have to try these out.

  10. #155: Your idea was the first thing I thought of too. It gives the string “OVYRIEHZNBUUKLLCOAILH”
    Also, there are 24 Hex characters, which gives 64 trits… 3 trits make a letter, leaving one unused trit anyways.

    #164 after trying the style from the first section, I thought to try the style from the last section too.
    Convert the hex to binary, then try to interpret it like the “one” and “two” marks from the last section.
    The first character demonstrates what’s wrong with this — the hex “F” immediately gives a run of 4 “ones.”
    There is also a run of 6 “ones” later in the binary, so it can’t be decoded like the other section.

    To save others that want to play with it some time,
    Hex to Binary: “111100001011111001011000111100101111110101100011011011000111100111010010111001001001001111100110”
    Hex to Trinary: “1202112212001000120222221120022102101021101100101200011001100222”

  11. William Basse (c.1583-1653/4) was an English poet(notice that he lived in the 16th century) so perhaps the name of the author is William.

    William Basse was also known as a follower of f Edmund Spenser(c. 1552 – 13 January 1599) ho was an important English poet that contribute mainly to the english poetry by his “Spenserian stanza”
    “Spenser used a distinctive verse form, called the Spenserian stanza, in several works, including The Faerie Queene. The stanza’s main meter is iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme is a b a b b c b c c [c]. The final line is an hexameter line which has 6 feet or stresses. Such a line is known as an Alexandrine.

    The Spenserian Sonnet is based on a fusion of elements of both the Petrarchan sonnet and the Shakespearean sonnet. In one sense, it is similar to the Shakespearan sonnet in the sense that it is set up based more on the 3 quatrain and a couplet system set up by Shakespeare; however it is more like the Petrarchan tradition in the fact that the conclusion follows from the argument or issue set up in the earlier quatrains. There is also a great use of the parody of the blazon and the idealization or praise of the mistress, a literary device used by many poets. It is a way to look at a woman through the appraisal of her features in comparison to other things. In this description, the mistress’s body is described part by part, i.e., much more of a scientific way of seeing one. As William Johnson states in his article “Gender Fashioning and Dynamics of Mutuality in Spenser’s Amoretti,” the poet-love in the scenes of the Spenser’s sonnets in Amoretti, is able to see his lover in an objectified manner by moving her to another, or more clearly, an item. The purpose of Spenser doing this is to bring the woman from the “transcendental ideal” to a woman in everyday life. “Through his use of metonymy and metaphor, by describing the lady not as a whole being but as bodily parts, by alluding to centuries of topoi which remove her in time as well as space, the poet transforms the woman into a text, the living ‘other’ into an inanimate object” (503). The opposite of this also occurs in The Faerie Queen. The counter-blazon, or the opposition of appraisal, is used to describe Duessa. She is not objectified, but instead all of her flaws are highlighted.”

    I think the author use this construction of stanza to build his code : 8×10 + 12

  12. “Employee number basse sixteen”
    let’s decode “sixteen” using the midle stanza:
    we can “draw” 16 using the symbols I, I > and ^, (try to put’em one to one)and if we take the hex corresponding to each symbol we have :
    8863 or 8836 (6 = I>^ or 6 = I^>)
    we have to separe 1 and 6, so we put 0 as separator:
    80863 or 80836
    but we have got “BASSE” which means in french “low” so we have to start with the lower symbol(which is >, note that we also have 3 lower than 6)
    so our employee ID is : 80836N

    Please check this ID, to see if I’m wrong or not(I think I’m not) or let me know how to check by myself.thx

    Note: the employee ID at the fermilab is encoded on 5 integers and a caracter (C for Contractor, V for Visitor and N for Employee )

  13. 6smail:

    I believe it was stated that the range for numbers at fermi is much lower than 80,000.

    However, I think, perhaps, you may be onto something.

    It has been bugging me to no end why those particular symbols were chosen — if it was a simple cryptogram, any symbol or letter would have worked just as well. I wonder if we need to construct something out of those symbols, and the manner in which the symbols are arranged to make the shape will give us our answers.

  14. fox,
    I’m working on it, I try to draw every caracter with these symbols, actually we need a priority of arrangement to get the correct string, and this priority is given by the “basse” word; I’m not really sure but… why the these symbols are here?

  15. I’ve found via some tricks(that I will explain tomorrow it’s to late now, i’m so tired!) that the second stanza correspond to :
    “AIRIN” and by some googlin’ I found that” airin older” is the name of the bassist of an alternative rock group called “sugarcult”
    so there is an obvious correlation between” airin”, “bass” and “shoemaker would call this noise”.

    is it the solution? I don’t know, it doesn’t find the employee ID (perhaps it is E16 from bass(E 16))
    but I can’t imagine it is just a coincidence, tommorow I will explain all the steps I’ve take

  16. One thing I just noticed with the middle paragraph composed of symbols: Most of them are international keycode characters that can be found in the Windows Character Map program. Some of them aren’t drawn “exactly” right, like whoever did this was drawing from memory or wanted to be a bit confusing.. but plenty match up.

  17. I promised to reveal how I’ve found “Arin” so that’s it :

    A took the second stenza, and I’ve counted the number of occurence of every hex caractere(THE FREQUENCIES), so I got:
    F 3
    0 1
    B 1
    E 3
    5 1
    8 1
    2 2
    D 2
    6 3
    3 2
    C 2
    7 1
    9 2
    4 1
    wE include the third line with 1 instead of S, and we rearrage ordering the list:

    0 1
    1 1
    2 2
    3 2
    4 1
    5 1
    6 3
    7 1
    8 1
    9 2
    A 0 (left blank)
    B 1
    C 3
    D 2
    E 3
    F 4

    Now, we see it seems to be a trits system(except F) if we parse that using the second mapping and putting 1 = 0, 2 = 1,
    3 = 2 we have :
    001 100 200 100 112 which gives “AIRIN”
    note that I ommited the F, i think it’s just here to lead us in wrong way.

  18. Try to look in the phoenician and and other semitic alphapets(arab, hebrew…) even the greek onevto decrypt the midle stanza
    I made some interessting discoveries (the first symbol is the letter ‘D’ in phoenician alphabet…)

  19. I still think the “Basse 16” could be a reference to the 16th Floor of Wilson Hall at Fermilab. Has anybody gone up there to see if there is some clue?

    #167, their ID’s are no higher than the 14000’s. If this was really sent out last year, then the max number, I would think, would be will be even lower.

  20. No, the first letter is NOT the letter ‘D’ in ancient Phoenician UNLESS you figure that the authore turned a right-triangle into an isosceles triangle (and rotated it). There are also numerous characters that do not appear in the Ancient Phoenician alphabet (I know, as I have memorized the entire Phoenician alphabet since I was 10 years old… used to LOVE the stuff and wanted to be an Egyptologist/Archaeologist when I was a kid).

    Good try though.

    To #172: “Now we see it seems to be a trits system (except F)”

    So if the first “F” is there to throw us off track, then it *could* seem likely that the “sFC” means (as others have stated, but without annotation on _why_), means one of two things:

    “substitute F with C” or “subtract F and C”

    (any other meanings?)

    6smail, what happens when you do both of the above in the conversion from hex to trinary?

  21. Oops, I should get some sleep… I meant to say:

    Some folks suggested that arranging the symbols might lead to a drawing/map/logo of some sorts.
    I’ve looked everywhere for the symbols for “4″ (3 circles and a line) and “D” (looks like an 8 with something in the bottom circle). I scanned the UTF-8 symbol tables, but didn’t see anything closely resembling these two.

    Then I noticed that the “D″-symbol looks like the rings of the Main Injector and the Tevatron (with the the little circle resembling the “waste heat” pond, see top-right image in

    I took a closer look at the map supplied by #98, i.e.,-87.709351&sspn=1.873854,3.271179&ie=UTF8&ll=41.837507,-88.261784&spn=0.003609,0.006389&t=h&z=18

    and noticed the “4”-symbol (3 circles). I think it’s a heating vent on the Wilson Hall building. Probably a coincidence, but funny anyway…

    Then again, the “D″-symbol also looks a bit like:

  22. enno – Defining the symbols is essential I think. I like the main injector/tevatron interpretation for the D symbol, although we could be reading too much into it.

    I don’t see the four circles in the map you provided, am I just not zoomed in enough or similar?

  23. @ Nick Bolibrauch, Re: #126…
    I also agree with your hunch that some how Ted Kaczynski (aka- the Unibomber) is somehow in the shadows of this. Perhaps, he is laughing at us all. It is exactly the mockery that he (in his mind) illuminated in his Maafesto. In fact, thinking of that, reminds me, wasn’t the FBI looking to find a way to de-crypt volumes of his papers found encrypted in a code that no-one has been able to break. (yet). Now, Kaczynski, was at one time a rather briliant mathimatiction, and might still be, in spite of his less than normal social aptitudes. My Question then would be, did he have, at any time, any connections to the Fermilab? Or a Prof. Frank Schoemaker? Hummm. -d

  24. Another silly question…
    Could this be a “Bar Code” of some sort? Machine readable? (perhaps only deciferable with the use, somehow, of a machine.) Just a question. Has anyone tried that approach yet? -d

  25. To #175:
    Thank you Devin for your notes, I’ve retried the combinasion above and I substitued F by C : I mean I remove one F and add one C;
    so I got now some think like

    0 1
    1 something
    2 2
    3 2
    4 1
    5 1
    6 3
    7 1
    8 1
    9 2
    A something
    B 1
    C 2
    D 2
    E 3
    F 3

    If I use the same mapping with 1 = 0, 2 = 1, 3 = 2; we have:
    0*1 100 200 1*0 112 2 == * I R * N (still this odd 2, let’s just ignore it, just note that 2 represents 3 without the mapping!)

    so now we have 9 combinations, 9 possible word, only 2 are meanful AIRIN(I talked about it in #172) and if we consider the * as 2(another 3!) we get 021 100 200 120 112 which corresponds to GIRON.

    And mysteriously, in the fermilab there’s someone called Steve GIRON and who work on the neutrinos also.
    who’s GIRON? is it the author?

  26. @181, 6smail

    Wouldn’t it be more logical to assume 1=1, 2=2, and 3=0?

    Afterall, the first stanza and last stanza BOTH use 3 as 0 when mapping. What happens when you use the above meanings?

  27. @176, 177, 178

    I’m looking at the symbols and comparing them to the aerial view of Fermilab. I think we have somethin’ boys!

    ‘5’ appears to be the tevatron just by itself, where the two dots represent buildings (except that I suppose that the “larger” dot, on the bottom-right, is actually the northern building and the smaller, detached, dot at the top-right of the circle is the southern building neighboring the tevatron). Link:,-87.709351&sspn=1.873854,3.271179&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=41.831870,-88.251930&spn=0.000883,0.001824&z=14

    If the specs are NOT from the fax machine, then perhaps they correspond to specs on the lawn around Fermi:,-87.709351&sspn=1.873854,3.271179&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=41.842625,-88.246114&spn=0.000883,0.001824&z=19

    ‘E’ could be the right-angle formed by roads within the Tevatron and the dot could be the gazebo in the middle of the Lake:,-87.709351&sspn=1.873854,3.271179&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=41.831328,-88.256671&spn=0.000883,0.001824&z=16

    Anyone identify anything else? I’ll keep looking too

  28. I just got an idea.

    While I was google-mapping via sattelite, I notice that there appears to be a network of power lines that have angles close to some of the symbols (like 2, 3, 6, and 9). Then it occurred to me, what if the letter under the symbol is where you are supposed to draw the image on a grid. The “s’ in sFC could be “South” meaning that you are supposed to use the two symbols (FC) to find your position on the map. Then using a 4/4 grid, you draw the symbol in the box and match it to landmarks. However, I feel that this is going nowhere, fast.

  29. The symbol for 9 could be the East/West road just South of intersection of Main Entrance Rd and S Kirk Rd and the East/West road inside the Tevatron. This could make sense if the symbol 8 is the main injector and tevatron (which would need to be rotated 90(d) clockwise to match the symbol on the paper; doing the same with these two roads gives you the symbol for 9)

  30. I’ve been working along this line of reasoning for a little bit now, unfortunately don’t have the time to have gotten very far. I’ll try to post some thoughts later on, or tommorrow.

  31. please note that i am in no way inclined to do the hard work to solve this as i lack all sorts of knowledge and willpower. HOWEVER, i have some past experiences that might dictate some other lines of thought on the matter at hand.

    1. sometimes it’s not what’s there, but what’s NOT there. when i was young, my grandfather would create puzzles using positive images. the solution to the puzzle wouldn’t be found in the positive, but instead the spaces between. a simple example would be to create “|_||__|||_|” the “|” symbol is a diversion from the truth. it’s the “_” that is important. he created these puzzles to train me to “read between the lines” as it were. this would make sense with the whole “… would call this noise” thing. could easily obfuscate a message in a false message, similar to using the first character in a paragraph or sentence to create a “subliminal message.” a multi layer encryption might have one layer easily solved that leads to a more complex encryption underneath. think encrypted data working on a cellphone network. data is encrypted at the origin, encrypted again by the service provider before being put on a carrier wave, transfered from cell tower to cell tower, then decrypted at the final tower, finally to be decrypted at the destination. we might have the message in the “carrier wave” state. (“Frank Shoemaker would call this noise” might be the carrier or the carrier’s encrypted data. this would leave the origin encryption left.)

    3. since the original message was written on a piece of paper, simple physical properties could be at play. for example: use a mirror, fold the paper, turn the page 90degCCW… you get the idea

    4. english is not the author’s primary language. as such the translation might be in another language. this could mean several things. the words to look for are in a different language, the read order is different (japanese & hebrew read left to right)

    5. no conversion to unicode or ascii is needed. it could be that the pictograph portion of the message is just that a PICTOGRAPH that may or may not combine to create more complex symbols (see japanese kanji for fire ) the likelihood that the images correspond to a google image is somewhat dubious as the examples given by devin are not on a standard “north up” map and are not consistent to each other.

    6.given my argument above (5), the opposite could indeed be true. unicode 16 would allow for a tremendous ammount of information to be encoded to a VERY small string if the literal values were used to translate

    7. in the first section ( the || | ||| bits) some of the groupings of 3 seem to have the center “|” longer than the outside sets. some of the upper and lower bounds of the strokes are at differing heights. some of them have a small “hook” as seen in the first image in #129. some of the strokes start at the bottom of the line, some start at the top, not in any particular ordering to me, but i don’t have pattern recognition skills, just observation.

    8. devin in #54 has a very good point that the pictograph section could be mathematical in nature. seeing as the intended audience of the letter is a bunch of mathematically inclined people, a re visitation of this idea might bring better understanding of the solution.

    9. if the first translation of is correct, then it might be a riddle intended for a very specific person. frank shoemaker or a colleague? what does frank shoemaker consider noise? iron maiden? mozart? white/ pink/ brown noise? some sort of statistical noise? the answer might only be clear to frank shoemaker or the answer might be in one of his published papers? it would seem that the first part took the least amount of time to decrypt, and what was revealed might be a riddle meant for a specific person. if that is the case, only the correct person’s memory could reveal the answer.

    10. if the translation is correct, why use two different languages in the last “| || | ||” bit?

    that’s all i got. you guys seem to be better at the figuring out part. i got the questioning thing down to a science though. =)

  32. If “Frank Shoemaker would call this noise”, then perhaps that solution itself is the noise he would call noise. What if the mapping to the alphabet isn’t as simple as being in alphabetical and numerical order?

    It could say something else entirely, with a mapping intentionally chosen to reveal a different message if you use such a naive mapping.

    As an example, lets use a simple base-10 naive mapping of A=1, B=2 [….], Z=26. With that mapping, “3 18 25 16 20” = “CRYPT”; however, if the mapping is more complex and scrambled, for instance if in reality T=3, C=16, R=18, K=20, I=25, and all the other letters equal other numbers, then when I give cyphertext of 3 18 25 16 20 you might apply the most obvious mapping (A=1, B=2, etc) and decide that my code says “CRYPT” when in reality it says “TRICK”.

    If the code writer assumed people would use the most obvious mapping and stop looking for a more complex one then he could have written so that the first solution, while seeming correct, is actually just noise. And having it call itself noise would be a very amusing way to do that.


  33. @182l

    using 1=1, 2=2, and 3=0 leads nowhere I”ve tried it before choosing 1=0, 2=1, and 3=2

    What do you think about Steve GIRON ?does someone do more research about him?
    please give me the ID of Steve GIRON if you can find it.

  34. Did anyone notice both messages are defining a character interchange key cypher (or however is said in english, i’m spanish 😛 ).
    So, we have this:

    Let’s order it:



    You can use this character interchange key to go from one to another sentence in a pair.
    Ñ- no way you don’t have these 😛
    Q-V (from the “garbage” lines, not from the sentences)

    My guess: this is a key reminder, or a key exchange letter. The two “nongarbage” sentences may just be a first cypher validation.

    Any other thoughts?

  35. I read similar article also named , and it was completely different. Personally, I agree with you more, because this article makes a little bit more sense for me

  36. I think that the letter is inverse (“noise” maybe is the perspective). Using a traditional write method of letters, maybe we have a date on the top right corner, a definition expedient number or the method to resolve the problem.

    top-rigth= 1-1-2 // 1-2-1 // 2-1-1 *Using Geoff first mapping = O // Q // W
    top-rigth= 1-1-2 // 1-2-1 // 2-1-1 *Using Geoff second mapping = N // P // W

    My attention on T > S, interpreting that “T” is equal to “S”. Maybe we will need change this words after.

    Using google (O Q W + Fermilab) = not evident results

    Using google (N P W + Fermilab):


    NPW Non-projectile weapon –> 😉

    b) (curious name)

    “Fermilab= Maxim: On leave last week, was locked out of systems. Still catching up with e-mail on issues including chaining. Looking for feedback on webadmin (Jason and MM from Greece only two to comment so far). Will webadmin be in the CPAN packages? All: Don’t know yet. How do we want to do configuration for other services, CPAN based or webadmin? Nearly done with functional testing for MDM. Notify when svn is being moved”

    c) (This link is not cached by google, but we can read this on the keywords search)

    “the domain wall number is given by Npw = 3 ( IZ + 1). There are several ways to avoid the domain wall … 75 (1995) 3981, and FERMILAB”

    Npw = 3 ( IZ + 1) = algorithm key?

    NPW = Number of Plane Waves =

    Mathematically, a plane wave is a solution to the wave equation. We can change vector variable, to be a plane on the original equation. But we haven’t numbers, at the moment.

    Now, i am reading this link. (Why using plane waves?)

    Can this be a possible way?.

    My two cents 😉

  37. Here is my hypothesis concerning the middle section, although I did not get far in practice…

    The middle part provides 3 things:

    1. A big pattern of bits in hexadecimal
    2. a bunch of corresponding symbols to overlay the bit pattern to create the message
    3. An example phrase (crib) which perhaps illustrates that the patterns are to be interpreted 3 nibbles at a time

    The last part EMPLOYEE … could be the answer for the example phrase, e.g., perhaps
    FRANK SHOEMAKER’s employee number.

    creating a sample bit pattern of the nibbles is no problem (this might be the most obvious):

    101 101 101 100
    100 110 101 110
    101 100 111 011
    101 010 100 101

    010 110 101 010
    111 010 110 011
    101 001 100 111
    001 110 001 100

    Trying to interpret the symbols as geometric patterns to read a bit sequence
    is much harder for some symbols. This is complicated by the fact that some
    symbols are much wider than others, and some would require an odd
    number of pixel rows to look right. This is bad for the bit matrix idea.

    What I think is interesting is that similar symbols are rendered with almost
    the exact same proportions. The blocky symbols are almost all square
    and drawn quite consistently. When you look at 2 and 6 you notice how
    they are clearly and consistently offset to be top justified. The author
    appeared to exercise much more care to line these up as compared to
    the ticks.

    I think the idea of a bit matrix from which you pull the bit stream off based
    on the symbol pattern seems to fit as a “next level of complexity” I also
    agree with the guy that wrote somewhere that because the third part
    is crunched at the bottom it looks like it was an afterthought to add an
    additional hint to solve the second part.

    Since the symbols vary in complexity I figure you might just get a stream
    out of each block which could vary in the number of bits. I thought this
    might correspond to individual words. With my trials, though, I did not get
    bit streams divisible by 3 or 4 which made me worry.

    I figured to read the bit pattern, you could identify the bits hit in the matrix
    and then read them off row major. I figured trying to read them as strokes
    would be too hard. I also considered there may be a potential difference
    between dots, strokes and circles. I also though maybe round shapes
    might have a negative or XOR contribution.

    I think if the author worked backwards and started with the message
    to produce the bit stream, then the matrix and then just made up symbols
    to encode the stream, this would not be that difficult since the author
    could think up just about any shape at all. I also think the s=(1|A) ambiguity
    with the crib makes it just a bit less trivial to decode the crib where you
    would have to go through some potential combinations.

    Maybe someone else wants to tackle this approach with a bit more
    enthusiasm than I.

  38. I think the symbols are a route description, and it spirals inward around the complex and ends in the middle of the accelerator.
    The symbols are geographic land marks (can be seen on google maps) and gradely zoom in on the somplex.
    I think I found a match for all symbols except for the starting F.

    I’ll set up a google maps overlay to show. I didn’t figure out the hex meaning/code.


  39. The symbols are a route description on the labs ground. It’s like a treasure hunt map where each symbol has an ancorpoint to the next. I set up a google maps overlay to make it visible.

    Print the letter and look at the symbols of the middle stanza. You can toggle each symbol on the map by clicking on the corresponding hex code below the map. Most symbols match closely some are less obvious.

    What do you guys think, am I right, or are I am just seeing things? :p


    Ps. Thx to Devin to put me on the right track, or should I say route 😀

  40. Nico –

    I like this approach, the only thing to be careful of is to “overfit” symbols to the huge amount of map data there. That being said, this approach does seem a bit more down to earth than some of the others.

    Has anyone worked at Fermilab? I’m interested if there’s a large map of the facility near a dining hall or something similar. To me, if the symbols were meant to be interpreted by a general (as opposed to a specific with unique knowledge) person at Fermilab they could be decoded by a common resource such as that.

  41. Going down this path, does anybody think that mapping the symbols in this way is going to help decipher a message? All this (mapping symbols to aerial shots) seems a little “National Treasure”-ish. Is there a pair of special spectacles that we hope to find hidden behind a brick built into one of the Fermilab buildings? Perhaps a treasure buried under Wilson Hall?

    I think that some of the unanswered questions that remain should serve as clues regarding the direction that we should take this:

    1. When aligning the trits in the first stanza to a grid, why did the author (in select places) introduce TWO squares of space between some words and not others?
    2. Why are the symbols annotated with hexadecimal values in the second stanza?
    3. Why are the hexadecimal values annotated with symbols in the second stanza?
    4. Why are there no symbols in the first and/or last stanza?
    5. What significance, if any, is the [seemingly] ubiquitous use of base-3?
    6. What hints in the first/last stanza are there for converting symbols and hexadecimal into words?
    7. What is the meaning of “Frank Shoemaker would call this noise”?
    8. What is the meaning of “Employee Number Basse Sixteen”?
    9. Why is the last stanza “squeezed” onto the paper?

    I think that if we continue this form of questioning, then we can use deductive and inductive reasoning to determine the *most* likely outcome.

    I think that the *most* likely method that will result in decoding of the second stanza will involve taking into consideration:

    a. that the entire message is *most* likely in some form of base-3
    b. that the entire message is *most* likely aligned to a uniform grid (graph paper overlay?)

    I think that I will be taking a closer look at the second-stanza as aligned to a grid. I hadn’t noticed this before and it may be of significance. Also, I noticed that the base-16 (hex in second stanza and possible mention in the last stanza’s decoded message) values may correspond to a position in the first stanza. Has anybody else noticed that there is never more than 15 spaces in each row in the first stanza?

  42. Cross-posted from SymmetryBreaking:

    Have people noticed that the last line of the lower section is 22 characters (spaces and strokes) long,
    while the last line of the upper section is exactly 22 characters short of being a complete 47-character
    line? Coincidence? Is it also a coincidence that the BASSE extra-S requires almost the same number of
    characters (21; 22 if you include both leading and trailing spaces)? And isn’t it interesting that code
    used in the lower section is acceptable for use in the upper section (though it decodes differently)?
    Finally, is it just lucky that a lower section “S” becomes three letters in the upper section, with no
    leftover strokes:

    Lower section: | | || | | | || | || = 231 = S
    Upper section: | | || | | | || | || = 112 111 212 = NMW

    The only connection I could dig up on “NMW” was Noecker, Masterson & Wieman:

    Pretty weak connection. Carl Wieman did share the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2001:

    Addressing the first five of Devin’s points:

    >1. When aligning the trits in the first stanza to a grid, why did the author (in select
    > places) introduce TWO squares of space between some words and not others?

    Good question. The four double spaces occur towards the ends of lines 4, 5, 6
    and 7. On line 4, the double space is in mid-letter (the L of “would”); on the remaining
    lines, the double space is between letters: CA__LL, TH__IS, NO__ISE.

    > 2. Why are the symbols annotated with hexadecimal values in the second stanza?
    > 3. Why are the hexadecimal values annotated with symbols in the second stanza?

    “Annotation” may or may not be what’s going on here. I think most people assume
    it’s an annotation since the same symbol always pairs with the same hexadecimal
    value. But they may not be numerically or alphabetically synonymous. For example,
    suppose the symbol indicates a column #, and the hex indicates a row #.

    > 4. Why are there no symbols in the first and/or last stanza?

    Could be that the top and bottom sections are stepping-stone primers, and that if
    symbols/hex had been included there also they would have been too difficult to solve.

    > 5. What significance, if any, is the [seemingly] ubiquitous use of base-3?

    Base-3 and base-5 are convenient for encoding the alphabet, since 3^3 is 26+1
    and 5^2 is 26-1.


  43. I think the third stanza SFC stands for Search within F for C,
    looking more closely only in the third F there is a building complex that looks like C,

    Maybe we already have the right employee number, but are looking in the wrong company.

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