Connect with us

Mysteries

250 Year-Old Code Cracked, Found a Secret Society Inside

For more than 200 years, this book concealed the arcane rituals of an ancient order. But cracking the code only deepened the mystery.
The master wears an amulet with a blue eye in the center. Before him, a candidate kneels in the candlelit room, surrounded by microscopes and surgical implements. The year is roughly 1746. The initiation has begun.
The master places a piece of paper in front of the candidate and orders him to put on a pair of eyeglasses. “Read,” the master commands. The candidate squints, but it’s an impossible task. The page is blank.
The candidate is told not to panic; there is hope for his vision to improve. The master wipes the candidate’s eyes with a cloth and orders preparation for the surgery to commence. He selects a pair of tweezers from the table. The other members in attendance raise their candles.
The master starts plucking hairs from the candidate’s eyebrow. This is a ritualistic procedure; no flesh is cut. But these are “symbolic actions out of which none are without meaning,” the master assures the candidate. The candidate places his hand on the master’s amulet. Try reading again, the master says, replacing the first page with another. This page is filled with handwritten text. Congratulations, brother, the members say. Now you can see.
For more than 260 years, the contents of that page—and the details of this ritual—remained a secret. They were hidden in a coded manuscript, one of thousands produced by secret societies in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the peak of their power, these clandestine organizations, most notably the Freemasons, had hundreds of thousands of adherents, from colonial New York to imperial St. Petersburg. Dismissed today as fodder for conspiracy theorists and History Channel specials, they once served an important purpose: Their lodges were safe houses where freethinkers could explore everything from the laws of physics to the rights of man to the nature of God, all hidden from the oppressive, authoritarian eyes of church and state. But largely because they were so secretive, little is known about most of these organizations. Membership in all but the biggest died out over a century ago, and many of their encrypted texts have remained uncracked, dismissed by historians as impenetrable novelties.
It was actually an accident that brought to light the symbolic “sight-restoring” ritual. The decoding effort started as a sort of game between two friends that eventually engulfed a team of experts in disciplines ranging from machine translation to intellectual history. Its significance goes far beyond the contents of a single cipher. Hidden within coded manuscripts like these is a secret history of how esoteric, often radical notions of science, politics, and religion spread underground. At least that’s what experts believe. The only way to know for sure is to break the codes.
In this case, as it happens, the cracking began in a restaurant in Germany.
For years, Christiane Schaefer and Wolfgang Hock would meet regularly at an Italian bistro in Berlin. He would order pizza, and she would get the penne all’arrabbiata. The two philologists—experts in ancient writings—would talk for hours about dead languages and obscure manuscripts.
It was the fall of 1998, and Schaefer was about to leave Berlin to take a job in the linguistics department at Uppsala University, north of Stockholm. Hock announced that he had a going-away present for Schaefer.
She was a little surprised—a parting gift seemed an oddly personal gesture for such a reserved colleague. Still more surprising was the present itself: a large brown paper envelope marked with the words top secret and a series of strange symbols.
Schaefer opened it. Inside was a note that read, “Something for those long Swedish winter nights.” It was paper-clipped to 100 or so photocopied pages filled with a handwritten script that made no sense to her whatsoever:
Arrows, shapes, and runes. Mathematical symbols and Roman letters, alternately accented and unadorned. Clearly it was some kind of cipher. Schaefer pelted Hock with questions about the manuscript’s contents. Hock deflected her with laughter, mentioning only that the original text might be Albanian. Other than that, Hock said, she’d have to find her own answers.
A few days later, on the train to Uppsala, Schaefer turned to her present again. The cipher’s complexity was overwhelming: symbols for Saturn and Venus, Greek letters like pi and gamma, oversize ovals and pentagrams. Only two phrases were left unencoded: “Philipp 1866,” written at the start of the manuscript, and “Copiales 3″ at the end. Philipp was traditionally how Germans spelled the name. Copiales looked like a variation of the Latin word for “to copy.” Schaefer had no idea what to make of these clues.
She tried a few times to catalog the symbols, in hopes of figuring out how often each one appeared. This kind of frequency analysis is one of the most basic techniques for deciphering a coded alphabet. But after 40 or 50 symbols, she’d lose track. After a few months, Schaefer put the cipher on a shelf.
Thirteen years later, in January 2011, Schaefer attended an Uppsala conference on computational linguistics. Ordinarily talks like this gave her a headache. She preferred musty books to new technologies and didn’t even have an Internet connection at home. But this lecture was different. The featured speaker was Kevin Knight, a University of Southern California specialist in machine translation—the use of algorithms to automatically translate one language into another. With his stylish rectangular glasses, mop of prematurely white hair, and wiry surfer’s build, he didn’t look like a typical quant. Knight spoke in a near whisper yet with intensity and passion. His projects were endearingly quirky too. He built an algorithm that would translate Dante’s Inferno based on the user’s choice of meter and rhyme scheme. Soon he hoped to cook up software that could understand the meaning of poems and even generate verses of its own.
Knight was part of an extremely small group of machine-translation researchers who treated foreign languages like ciphers—as if Russian, for example, were just a series of cryptological symbols representing English words. In code-breaking, he explained, the central job is to figure out the set of rules for turning the cipher’s text into plain words: which letters should be swapped, when to turn a phrase on its head, when to ignore a word altogether. Establishing that type of rule set, or “key,” is the main goal of machine translators too. Except that the key for translating Russian into English is far more complex. Words have multiple meanings, depending on context. Grammar varies widely from language to language. And there are billions of possible word combinations.
But there are ways to make all of this more manageable. We know the rules and statistics of English: which words go together, which sounds the language employs, and which pairs of letters appear most often. (Q is usually followed by a u, for example, and “quiet” is rarely followed by “bulldozer.”) There are only so many translation schemes that will work with these grammatical parameters. That narrows the number of possible keys from billions to merely millions.
The next step is to take a whole lot of educated guesses about what the key might be. Knight uses what’s called an expectation-maximization algorithm to do that. Instead of relying on a predefined dictionary, it runs through every possible English translation of those Russian words, no matter how ridiculous; it’ll interpret
as “yes,” “horse,” “to break dance,” and “quiet!” Then, for each one of those possible interpretations, the algorithm invents a key for transforming an entire document into English—what would the text look like if  meant “break dancing”? The algorithm’s first few thousand attempts are always way, way off. But with every pass, it figures out a few words. And those isolated answers inch the algorithm closer and closer to the correct key. Eventually the computer finds the most statistically likely set of translation rules, the one that properly interprets
as “yes” and  as “quiet.” The algorithm can also help break codes, Knight told the Uppsala conference—generally, the longer the cipher, the better they perform. So he casually told the audience, “If you’ve got a long coded text to share, let me know.”
Funny, Schaefer said to Knight at a reception afterward. I have just the thing.
A blindfold that allows the wearer to see, worn by members of the society who wrote the “Copiale” cipher.
A copy of the cipher arrived at Knight’s office a few weeks later. Despite his comments at the conference, Knight was hesitant to start the project; alleged ciphers often turned out to be hoaxes. But Schaefer’s note stapled to the coded pages was hard to resist. “Here comes the ‘top-secret’ manuscript!!” she wrote. “It seems more suitable for long dark Swedish winter nights than for sunny California days—but then you’ve got your hardworking and patient machines!”
Unfortunately for Knight, there was a lot of human grunt work to do first. For the next two weeks, he went through the cipher, developing a scheme to transcribe the coded script into easy-to-type, machine-readable text. He found 88 symbols and gave them each a unique code:
became “lip,”  became “o..,”  became “zs.” By early March he had entered the first 16 pages of the cipher into his computer. Next Knight turned to his expectation-maximization algorithm. He asked the program what the manuscript’s symbols had in common. It generated clusters of letters that behaved alike—appearing in similar contexts. For example, letters with circumflexes (
) were usually preceded by  or . There were at least 10 identifiable character clusters that repeated throughout the document. The only way groups of letters would look and act largely the same was if this was a genuine cipher—one he could break. “This is not a hoax; this is not random. I can solve this one,” he told himself. A particular cluster caught his eye: the cipher’s unaccented Roman letters used by English, Spanish, and other European languages. Knight did a separate frequency analysis to see which of those letters appeared most often. The results were typical for a Western language. It suggested that this document might be the most basic of ciphers, in which one letter is swapped for another—a kid’s decoder ring, basically. Maybe, Knight thought, the real code was in the Roman alphabet, and all the funny astronomical signs and accented letters were there just to throw the reader off the scent.
Of course, a substitution cipher was only simple if you knew what language it was in. The German Philipp, the Latin copiales, and Hock’s allusion to Albanian all hinted at different tongues.
Knight asked his algorithm to guess the manuscript’s original language. Five times, it compared the entire cryptotext to 80 languages. The results were slow in coming—the algorithm is so computationally intense that each language comparison took five hours. Finally the computer gave the slightest preference for German. Given the spelling of Philipp, that seemed as good an assumption as any. Knight didn’t speak a word of German, but he didn’t need to. As long as he could learn some basic rules about the language—which letters appeared in what frequency—the machine would do the rest.
Eventually we turned to the last items in the Oculist trove: nine copies of a four-page document written in a mixture of old German, Latin, and the Copiale’s coded script. The message was more or less identical in every set. “Die Algebra,” it said at the top of page one, a primer on the “old way of calculating.” Rows of cipher letters lay beneath. The document seemed to add them up as if they were numbers. The third page mentioned the Jewish Cabala—the mystical system in which meaning is derived from the numerical value of letters.
It would appear that the Copiale symbols don’t represent just words and letters, they stand for numbers too. But if they do, Knight, Megyesi, and Schaefer haven’t been able to tease out the meaning. The Oculist master apparently understood these coded documents in a way that today’s interpreters do not. Despite years’ worth of attacks on their cipher, the Oculists’ secrets have not been pried loose, at least not fully. What they saw in their initiation chambers may never again be seen.

Advertisement
Comments

Mysteries

The Mystery of the Taman Shud Case

The mystery of the Taman Shud case has puzzled law enforcement and intelligence agencies all over the world for more than half a century now.

Also referred to as “The Mystery of the Somerton Man”, this unsolved case refers to an incident that took place on December 1, 1948 where and unidentified male body was found dead at 6:30 a.m. on the shore of Somerton Beach in Adelaide, Australia.

Police found his body after a handful of various witnesses reported what they suspected was a man who was either drunk or asleep, reclining on the sand with his head resting against the seawall.

He was clothed in fine European attire, but all of the labels had been deliberately torn off from his clothing, indicating a possible attempt to conceal his identity. His dental records did not match any known individual in Australia.

Police searched his pockets in an attempt to find some type of identification, but to no avail; their search only produced a redeemed bus ticket, an unused second-class railway ticket, a half-empty pack of Juicy Fruit gum, some cigarettes, and a partially empty box of matches.

After several unsuccessful attempts to confirm the man’s identity and potential cause of death, police turned to an autopsy.

According to Sir John Burton Cleland, a noted University of Adelaide pathologist, the man’s body had all of the signs of a death by poisoning, including severe congestion in the liver, kidneys and brain.

The man’s spleen was enlarged about three times the normal size, and a significant amount of blood was located in his stomach as well.

Interestingly enough, several toxicology experts attempted to determine what type of poison was used, but it was completely undetectable in his body.

Authorities ruled the death a suicide by an unknown poisonous substance, but after a careful re-examination of the body by Sir Cleland, a small rolled-up piece of paper was discovered deep within a small fob pocket inside of the deceased man’s trouser pocket.

The paper contained the words “Taman Shud” (meaning “ending”, “finished” or “the end” in Persian) printed on it, and the reverse side was blank.

Public library officials were able to determine that the phrase came from the text of a collection of poems known as The Rubaiyat by Persian philosopher Omar Khayyam.

Police conducted a widespread campaign to find the book that the text was torn from, circulating images of the piece of paper in the press all over Australia.

A man whose identity has been kept anonymous by the police came forward and revealed that he had discovered a very rare copy of The Rubaiyat in the backseat of his parked, unlocked car on Jetty Road in Genelg about two weeks prior to the discovery of the body.

The man said that he had no idea that the book had any connection to the case until he read about it in the newspaper.

The book was missing the phrase “Taman Shud” on the very last page, and microscopic tests confirmed that the small piece of paper found in the Somerton man’s trouser pocket was indeed torn from the final page of the book.

Five lines of all-capital letters were scrawled in pencil in the very back of the book, delineating what authorities have ruled as some type of code.

Investigators first conjectured that the lines represented a foreign language, but that was later ruled out in favor of some type of cipher or cryptographic message. The five lines are as follows:

WRGOABABD

MLIAOI (this second line was struck through in the original message, indicating a possible mistake due to its similarity to line 4)

WTBIMPANETP

MLIABOAIAQC

ITTMTSAMSTGAB

A phone number was also written in the back of the book, which police later discovered belonged to a woman who resided on Moseley Street in Glenelg, only about a quarter of a mile from the location where the body was discovered. (Side note: Glenelg was also the destination listed on the bus ticket found in the Somerton man’s pocket.)

After being questioned by police, she stated that she did own a copy of The Rubaiyat during the time when she worked as a nurse at the Royal North Shore Hospital (in Sidney) during the second World War, but that she had given her copy to an Australian Army lieutenant named Alfred Boxall in 1945.

Police were now certain that the dead man could be identified as Alfred Boxall, until the real Alfred Boxall surfaced later with a different copy of The Rubaiyat (a 1942 edition), with the last page containing the phase “Taman Shud” intact!

The woman and did not claim to have any connection to the dead man discovered at Somerton beach. She asked to remain anonymous since she was newly married with a toddler, and did not want to be associated with a murder mystery or Boxall.

Amazingly, the police agreed to grant her anonymity, although she was considered to be the best lead in the case.

To this day, the identity of the Somerton man has not yet been confirmed, and the meaning of the cipher (if any) has not been determined.

Many have speculated that the mysterious man may have been some type of spy since his death occurred during a particularly intense period of the Cold War.

Several intelligence specialists, cryptanalysts, mathematicians and astrologers have attempted to decipher the code, but no one has been successful as of yet.

Perhaps the enigma of the Taman Shud case will never be solved, but it still carries an air of mystery and intrigue that fascinates people all over the world.

Source link

Continue Reading

Mysteries

The Mercury Monolith is proof that an Extraterrestrial Civilization inhabited the Solar System

It seems that Mars is not the only planet in our solar system that hosts mysterious monoliths. According to the images recorded by space probes, relative to the surface of Mercury, the “fire” planet is added to the list of planets and moons of our solar system, which show fascinating anomalies, which according to many, show that there is alien life, or at least it existed up to a certain point, in our solar system.

Related image

Many researchers call the monolith of Mercury the ‘door to another world’, while others believe that it is one of the many evidence that points to the fact that millions of years ago and perhaps even before life on Earth,  an advanced alien civilization was created, that inhabited our solar system, leaving behind traces of their existence that we are beginning to find today. The massive “artificial structure” was recently analyzed by the researcher and YouTuber “SecureTeam10“,  who discusses and analyzes the” black rectangular structure “that is present in the images taken by NASA. A similar monolith can also be found on Mars and on one of its Phobos moons.

monolith-mercurio582 Nov 10/11/15

Curiously, astronaut Buzz Aldrin also said: “We must see better the moon of Mars (Phobos). On its surface there is a monolith, a very particular structure on this small potato-shaped object that revolves around Mars once every seven hours. So who put that thing on Phobos? Who put it? Well the universe put that object there, or if you choose … God put it there. ”

monolith-mercurio583 Nov 15-11-11

The mysterious structure seen on the surface of Mercury was first sighted in 2012, when researcher Scott Waring had analyzed it on his blog. However, the video uploaded to YouTube by Tyler Glockner, analyzes the mysterious structure in the shape of a monolith on the surface of Mercury: “I took an excellent image that became clear to me … that this is not an entrance open to everyone. In reality, it is something much more magnificent. It is a shadow … but where does the shadow come from? Dear friends, the rectangular object is a monolith structure with an imposing appearance above the surface. “

Many are convinced that the image presented by NASA actually describes a permanent structure on the surface of Mercury. Glockner believes that due to the inclination of the shadow from the Sun, you determine the black rectangle which is then actually a shadow of a permanent structure on the surface.

monolith-mercurio584 Nov 15-11-11

Monolith on Mars

According to data collected by the Messenger probe, Mercury is a planet subjected to high temperatures, but it also has water and organic material present on its surface. It is interesting to note that the amount of water on the planet is sufficient to cover Washington DC on ice. According to the scientists, it is believed that Mercury possesses its own dose of organic material, which when compared is similar to that which was present on our planet at the time of the creation of life, millions of years ago. Incredibly, this material, according to scientists, has been the building blocks of life.


Continue Reading

Mysteries

DB Cooper witness finally shares his story

Who was DB Cooper and what happened to him ? Image Credit: PD / US Government

A passenger who sat near Cooper during his infamous plane heist has spoken out about his experience.

The hijacking occurred in 1971 when a mysterious man, who at the time went by the name Dan Cooper, boarded Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 to travel from Portland to Seattle.

During the trip, Cooper called over one of the flight attendants and asked them to write out a note declaring that he had a bomb in his briefcase and that the plane was being hijacked.

When the aircraft stopped at Tacoma International Airport, he allowed the passengers to leave in exchange for four parachutes and the sum of $200,000 in cash.

After the plane had taken off again, Cooper strapped the bag of money to himself, put on one of the parachutes and jumped out somewhere between Seattle and Reno. No trace of him was ever found.

One passenger who got a good look at Cooper during the original flight was Bill Mitchell – a University of Oregon sophomore who remained sitting nearby when the other passengers moved up front.

“The pilot came on and said, ‘We had engine trouble and so we’re going to have to run out some fuel’,” he recalled. At the time, he had no idea what Cooper was up to but became somewhat suspicious when one of the flight attendants went to sit down next to him.

“My ego got in the way of this,” said Mitchell. “It sort of bugged me that this flight attendant was talking with this older guy with a suit and smoking, and here you had a University of Oregon sophomore sitting right across the aisle and she wouldn’t make any eye contact or anything.”

His description of Cooper would later be used to help create the image of him seen above.

As for what ultimately happened to the culprit, Mitchell is unconvinced that he got away.

“My theory from day-one, or three days after I realized what was going on, is that he’s plunked down on the ground some place in southern Washington dead with the money,” he said.

For all we know, he could be right.

Source: Komo News

Continue Reading

Recent Comments

Trending