A follow-up and a puzzle May 6, 2009 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Wired just posted this article, which is their coverage of the Mystery on Fifth Ave apartment remodel (posted here). They included pictures of a few more of the puzzles, including this cipher.

Some of us were interested in the cipher on the radiator, and pretty much figured it out except for a few inconsistencies. The author of the NYTimes piece let me know that there was a mistake in one of the radiator ciphers, but she didn't remember which one or what the mistake was.

This one is more difficult, and I thought some of you might like to take a crack at it. I guessed that it's a Vigenère cipher, and this was verified in an email from the designer to me, although he didn't give me the keyword.


posted by Who_Am_I to MetaFilter-Related at 12:08 PM (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Supposedly JJ Abrams is going to make a movie about this apartment.
posted by milestogo at 12:16 PM on May 6, 2009

(not cloverfield, the other links)
posted by milestogo at 12:17 PM on May 6, 2009

So no one else wastes time, it is resistant to 1-20 (done individually, not as a range) character pygenere (English).
posted by juv3nal at 1:02 PM on May 6, 2009

I'm not good with cyphers, but when pronounced verbally, it sounds exactly like someone who is suffering from some sort of anaphylactic constriction of their throat.

I don't know if this helps at all.
posted by quin at 1:05 PM on May 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Actually, it's odd that there's punctuation but no spaces. If those final lines are actually just one word each, it's not likely to be susceptible to an algorithmic approach at all.
posted by juv3nal at 1:15 PM on May 6, 2009

The movie I'm a bit meh about. WHO IS MAKING THE VIDEO GAME so I can solve the puzzles myself?
posted by Rock Steady at 1:49 PM on May 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Cool. Who_Am_I, do you have any guesses as to what the key might be? I wish I had more time right now but I'm *supposed to be working*.
posted by iconomy at 1:58 PM on May 6, 2009

Also, are you sure about the way the letters appear as you have written them? I ask because there are 144, which of course is a square of 12, so I wondered if they might appear, as in a Caesar cipher, as 12 letters across by 12 down?
posted by misha at 2:31 PM on May 6, 2009

juv3nal the first one was the same way, I think they just crushed all the letters together to make it look better in production, and less obvious that it was a code at all. The line breaks were at the ends of words though.
iconomy I don't have any idea what the key is. I tried obvious stuff like the kid's names, but it could be a random string of letters from another puzzle. I used this Vigenère cipher breaker, but none of the keys it output produced anything meaningful.
misha that's how they look in the photo, it's linked above. That's interesting about the number though, I guess they could be rearranged somehow.
I did notice that the first word of the other puzzle was the kid's name - Cavan. One of the other kids is named Ella, and the first word in this one has four letters.
posted by Who_Am_I at 2:43 PM on May 6, 2009

There is other stuff in there, too, but a more detailed explanation might drive a reader crazy.

posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:56 PM on May 6, 2009

It would make sense if the top line was "Ella, something, Kiera" (the other kids' names, leaving out Cavan because he was in the other puzzle). But I don't know the fourth child's name, and I can't make the cipher work with those names, so...AAaarrrggghhh.
posted by misha at 3:49 PM on May 6, 2009

I got it. Who_Am_I and misha are on the right track.
posted by dyoneo at 5:58 PM on May 6, 2009

dyoneo how close are we? Is it just a matter of figuring out the key, or is it more complicated than that? I'm not a cryptographer by any means, and I've tried just about everything I can think of.
posted by Who_Am_I at 8:01 AM on May 7, 2009

You did all the work! One of your suggestions yields a partial key.
posted by dyoneo at 9:46 AM on May 7, 2009 [1 favorite]

So, perhaps the full name of a child? Hmmm.
posted by misha at 12:15 PM on May 7, 2009

If the first letters of the solved puzzle are 'ELLA' that means the key starts with 'HONE'. That seems reasonable: it's a real word, and it could be the start of a phrase. That's my best guess, but I can't figure out anything else based on that.
posted by Who_Am_I at 1:09 PM on May 7, 2009

Or the beginning of a word, like honey or honesty...
posted by team lowkey at 5:00 PM on May 7, 2009

Yep, "HONE" is the start to a longer key. I also count 5 (intentional?) errors in the text, all of which are pretty apparent once the key is discovered.
posted by zeugitai_guy at 9:21 PM on May 7, 2009

Finally got it! Solution here if you want it.

I only found four mistakes, as shown in the photo. In order to translate correctly, the four wrong letters in the cipher should be VNGV, instead of UGSU. This is very close to the 'error' in the first cipher, where you needed VNPV instead of PHJP. Not sure what it all means, but there it is.

Thanks everyone for the help!
posted by Who_Am_I at 6:07 AM on May 8, 2009

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