For those of you who have had their fill of the last week’s posts on the Somerton Man, here’s a different cipher mystery that doesn’t get aired even 1% as much: the Feynman Ciphers.
The first Feynman Cipher (F1, 380 characters long) turned out to be based on a 5 x 76 transposition path cipher (the plaintext was “WHANTHATAPRILLEWITHHISSHOURESSOOTE”, i.e the start of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales), but what is a little odd is that nobody seems to have yet made any inroads at all into the other two, though it is often remarked that transposition may well be involved. In that sense, they’re a bit like the d’Agapeyeff challenge cipher, which is also believed to be a multi-stage cipher including one or more transposition stages.
At 261 characters long, the second Feynman Cipher (F2) is a little shorter than F1: this length factorizes to 3 x 3 x 29, or 9 x 29, or 3 x 87. It also includes all 26 letters, which rules out a lot of tricky ciphers such as Playfair and Phillips.
XUKEXWSLZJUAXUNKIGWFSOZRAWURORKXAOS LHROBXBTKCMUWDVPTFBLMKEFVWMUXTVTWUI DDJVZKBRMCWOIWYDXMLUFPVSHAGSVWUFWOR CWUIDUJCNVTTBERTUNOJUZHVTWKORSVRZSV VFSQXOCMUWPYTRLGBMCYPOJCLRIYTVFCCMU WUFPOXCNMCIWMSKPXEDLYIQKDJWIWCJUMVR CJUMVRKXWURKPSEEIWZVXULEIOETOOFWKBI UXPXUGOWLFPWUSCH
Though normally very good at identifying cipher types, Cryptocrack doesn’t do particularly well in this: it suggests Phillips, FracMorse, Playfair and Beaufort as its top four tips, none of which seem hugely likely to me. What is interesting, though, is that if you transpose the ciphertext (say, using some of the seven transposed routes listed by James Lyons), Cryptocrack produces a quite different set of recommendations, suggesting instead Trifid (which it almost certainly isn’t), but more reasonably Running Key and occasionally Vigenere.
Personally, I don’t think it’s a Vig: so right now, my prediction is that it’ll turn out to be a funky path transposition combined with Running Key (combining this with Vigenere would surely be just a bit too sadistic). Perhaps this will be what James Lyons will say too, when he gets round to posting part 3 (his part 2 is here.
Finally: the third Feynman Cipher (F3) is short too: 231 characters, which factorizes to 3 x 7 x 11. Much as James Lyons notes, I currently expect more or less everything said about F2 to hold true for F3: so I epxect it’s probably a Running Key (or perhaps Vigenere, but I doubt it) combined with a funky path transposition.
WURVFXGJYTHEIZXSQXOBGSVRUDOOJXATBKT ARVIXPYTMYABMVUFXPXKUJVPLSDVTGNGOSI GLWURPKFCVGELLRNNGLPYTFVTPXAJOSCWRO DORWNWSICLFKEMOTGJYCRRAOJVNTODVMNSQ IVICRBICRUDCSKXYPDMDROJUZICRVFWXIFP XIVVIEPYTDOIAVRBOOXWRAKPSZXTZKVROSW CRCFVEESOLWKTOBXAUXVB
What do you think?