Okie has come up with the idea to post something in a code and see if our readers can figure out how to decode it. This seems like it may turn out to be fun, educational and interesting but since I already know the answer I may think it’s more fun than others.
Here is the educational part of the article; codes and ciphers are two separate things. Ciphers generally consist of two types, the transposition and the substitution. The substitution method is pretty self explanatory as the letters and numbers in the plaintext message are substituted with others. The transposition type cipher simply jumbles the plaintext letters and numbers around. Most ciphers employ the use of a “key” which will specify things such as the arrangement of letters within a cipher alphabet or the pattern that the letters in a “transposition” cipher will be shuffled around. A cipher can be monalphabetic or polyalphabetic. The first using only one cipher alphabet and the second using two or more cipher alphabets to substitute the actual plaintext of the message. Ciphers can also include what are known as “nulls”. Nulls are symbols that have no meaning and are simply in the cipher to confuse those who might try to intercept the message.
Anybody confused yet? For simplicity, the first message will be a cipher and not a code. To make this easier we will use a monalphabetic cipher and to keep it treasure related we will only use known ciphers from the time that most treasures were put in the ground. That will give you a time period from about 1400 to 1900. I know, there were treasures before and after those time periods but I figured five hundred years of ciphers was enough for you to look through. I don’t want you breaking into some U-Boat relic somewhere for their cipher machine!
As an even bigger hint I will tell you that the cipher I am using in the first message is known to have been used in the 1860s to encode a message about the assassination of President Lincoln. The cipher itself was originally used long before that time but this might give you a hint on how to solve it. Watch out for the nulls that may or may not be there!
If you can decipher the message then please post the deciphered message by clicking on the “comments” link at the bottom of this article. If you are the first to post the message you will when a new car! Yea, right, you know better than that don’t you??? Maybe we will give you a Hot Wheels car at the next meeting! If you are the first to decipher the message and post the answer you will at least have bragging rights. That will be good enough for now won’t it?
Now for the fun part, the message:
P V U M B X T 5 M J L F E 3 U P 4 0 6 D B S W F 4 T Z N C P M T 5 1 J O 6 S P D L 9 T P 1 U I B U 7 U I F Z 2 X P V M E O U 4 I B W F 5 U P 1 D B S S Z 7 B S P V O E 4 B 3 3 N B Q 6 U I B U 9 N J H I U 2 5 H F U 1 M P T U 7 P S 6 T U P M F O