Pillar 7

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Pillar 07-Daytime.jpg

Pillar 7 is the shortest pillar. It contains a numerical cipher (Solved), a Caesar/Vigenere cipher (Solved) and a series of numbers around the bottom which probably form part of a cipher (Unsolved).


It also explains the method it uses to encrypt the alphabetic text. It is presumably a pillar to introduce participants to the concepts of encryption.

Pillar 7 is 1709mm tall and is the shortest (eight tallest) of the eight pillars.

Numerical Grid

The numerical grid on Pillar 7

At the top of the pillar is a grid of numbers of 5 rows and 26 columns. A triangular glyph surrounds a number (rather than pointing as in other pillars).

35248614916353547101490974

24725391509414892533731941

14909573522681490367353636

41635353213194116435346709

81491040353180149092635377

Decoded labyrinth style by Neonsignal on 17 March to read as a series of numbers that resemble geographical coordinates of the Canberra area:

35.2742 149.1373

35.2984 149.1312

35.3180 149.0926

35.3778 149.1040

35.3536 149.0764

35.3461 149.0367

35.3636 149.0957

35.2268 149.0519

35.2486 149.1635

35.4710 149.0974

When plotted onto a map, the coordinates point to 10 locations in the Canberra urban area specifically:

  • Questacon first located at the former Public School, Ainslie
  • Questacon National Science and Technology Centre, Parkes
  • Questacon Science and Technology Centre, Deakin
  • Lambrigg St, Farrer
  • Macfarland Crescent and Eggleston Crescent, Chifley
  • Hibiscus and Bangalay Crescent, Rivett
  • Mawson Drive and Hurley Street, Mawson
  • Ratcliff Crescent and Krefft Street, Florey
  • Madigan Street and Rivett Street, Hackett
  • Pockett Avenue and Wilson Crescent, Banks

Noting "The first three correspond to the original location of Questacon at the former Ainslie Public School, the current Questacon National Science and Technology Centre, and the newly opened Questacon Technology and Learning Centre. The latter seven correspond to intersections in the suburbs of Farrer, Chifley, Rivett, Mawson, Florey, Hackett, and Banks. Each of these suburbs is either named after a scientist, or has its streets named after a scientist."

Link to the PDF solution page from the Questacon press release.

Transposition (Caesar) cipher

The remainder of the pillar is filled with a simple cipher - the Caesar cipher.

At the top is a plaintext which makes an obvious reference to Caesar:

A LETTER SHIFT A CIPHER MAKES

A FAMOUS ROMANS NAME IT TAKES

Then below that, it pictorially depicts a letter shift. In this example, A>B, B>C, C>D and so on, with Z>A.

Below this is a cipher text:

B MFUUFS TIJGU B DJQIFS NBLFT

B GBNPVT SPNBOT OBNF JU UBLFT


C UJKHV QH VYQ AQW PQY ECP DTGCM

DWV QVJGT OQXGU C EQFG ECP OCMG


KRZHYHU WKHB EH VZDSSHG DERXW

D NXID PDQ FRXOG ILQG WKHP RXW


RPKR QMWJZZKRG WYMABY

INGY PZBZIE XROZA

OPK RNQV SA ENMPL

XVZIZ GBHV ERIQIF

Using a simple online Caeser cipher calculator, this decrypts using various shifts to read

(With a shift of 1)

A LETTER SHIFT A CIPHER MAKES

A FAMOUS ROMANS NAME IT TAKES


(With a shift of 2)

A SHIFT OF TWO YOU NOW CAN BREAK

BUT OTHER MOVES A CODE CAN MAKE


(With a shift of 3)

HOWEVER THEY BE SWAPPED ABOUT

A KUFA MAN COULD FIND THEM OUT

Kufa most likely refers to Kufa, Iraq which was home to famed Arab cryptanalyst al-Kindi who pioneered frequency analysis.

The final four lines resist any number of simple shifts. It is possible that it is encoded using something like a Vigenere cipher.

An analysis using an online Vigenere breaking tool conducts frequency analysis to try to determine a key. It responds with a lot that start with "VIG", leading me to guess "VIGENERE".


(Using the Vigenere cipher with a key of "vigenere"):

WHEN DIFFERENT SHIFTS

EACH LETTER TAKES

(and resetting at the end of the two lines)

THE NAME OF WHICH

GREAT CODE AWAKES

Base

A string of numbers run in a circular pattern around the base of each pillar (see notes on the base code). On this pillar, it reads:

10 11 9 11 9 12 13 17 28 29 15 17 11 12 11 12 11 13 20 24 9 13 11 11 7 93 11 11 14 17