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Davidmm
Username: Davidmm

Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Monday, December 11, 2006 - 4:35 pm:   

Since these three cyphers are solved to everyone's satisfaction, I wonder if they're not being unjustly ignored.

If we start with the assumption that Zodiac wanted them solved, how was it supposed to be done? As fate would have it, the brute force of an novice couple's effort cracked it like a "Sunday Jumble." 'Plugging in letters until all the cross-referencing worked' hardly seems to be the indended key to the cypher.

Has anyone taken the solution to the first cyphers and tried to find clues in the prior communications (or even the letter accompanying it) that would have gotten one started on the solution? Reverse engineer it?

If we can find his original (and aparently overlooked) clues to solve the first cyphers, then maybe we'll have a better approach to finding clues for the 340 cypher.

Any thoughts?
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Ed_neil
Username: Ed_neil

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Monday, December 11, 2006 - 5:57 pm:   

They didn't exactly do that, David; apparently, Betty suggested Z started with, "I like killing," and they noted symbols that always occurred together, suggesting a double-letter combination. Once you have a few values, it doesn't take long for the rest to fall into place.
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Davidmm
Username: Davidmm

Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Monday, December 11, 2006 - 10:07 pm:   

Yes, I know that they looked for double letters, because he probably used the word "killing." Then they continued from there, like a "Sunday Jumble."

What I mean to ask, "Is that the way that Zodiac intended them to be solved?" They applied guestimation and brute force of effort, combined with some keen inspiration.

Assuming that Zodiac actually DID want it to be solved, was he just hoping that someone would find a double letter and build out from there?

What if there were clues of where to start, burried in the letters or prior communications. We've not found anything like that for the 340 cipher, but perhaps, with the strength of hindsight, we can find the clues that were intended to lead to the code of the three-part cipher. Providing that is fruitful, it could lead to recognizing later clues to the unsolved ciphers.

It's just a thought.
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Ed_neil
Username: Ed_neil

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - 1:01 am:   

How else does one solve a cipher? True, you can use clues like we did in WWII with the Enigma coding machines; the one flaw it had was that it could not encode a letter as itself, and so we would often bomb unimportant targets then check their coded messages for letter groupings that did not have the target's letters in them. It didn't take long to break the code once they figured out where the target's name was encoded (pretty damn clever, actually). And the Nazis were undoubtedly wondering, "Why in hell did they bomb that???"

However, solving Z's codes are not like that, and it's a huge assumption that he left clues in his letters. We're not talking comic book archvillains like the Joker or the Riddler here, were talking about a sick murderer like Z. Of course, anything is possible and Z very well could have done as you suggest; the best way to prove it is to look for the clues and then solve the cipher.
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Sandy
Username: Sandy

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - 2:37 pm:   

If Zodiac got his code idea from Sherlock Holmes "My Secret Weapon", then the last code is in reverse.
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Davidmm
Username: Davidmm

Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - 3:46 pm:   

It goes without saying that Z was not a comic book villian. He killed and terrorized innocent people and robbed strangers of their childhood, their safety and their families.

However, he also wore a costume like a super villian, wrote codes like a Sherlock Holmes villian, quoted movies and opera, was delusional, narcissistic, and deceitful. Even though he wasn't a fictional creation, he did his best to emulate their standard.

When comparing this to the Enigma Ciphers, there's a distinct difference. We were not their intended recipient. We were intercepting the Nazi Enigma messages. Their adressee DID have the key to read them. However, the Zodiac ciphers *did* reach their intended readers (public and police), without an apparent key. Was Zodiac, despite being a massive narcissisit, uninterested in his proclimation being fully appreciated? I doubt it. He even provided aditional clues for the 66 Map when he thought people weren't understanding it.

If we're to hang on the fragile assumption that he actually wanted us to read his codes, it's resonable to presume that he provided clues to his ciphers. Whether it's the repetion of the number "17," or letters hidden nine characters after each punctiation, or merged runes, he did hide clues, unlike most garden variety criminals.

After thirty years, a solid solution has never been found for the 340 Cipher. To me, it just seems like a logical tact to attempt to reverse engineer the first ciphers to hopefully find their original "key." Not their "solution," we already have that, but their key.
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Ed_neil
Username: Ed_neil

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - 4:48 pm:   

My suggestion is, look for the clues and decode it. Or read it backwards or whatever. After nearly 14 years of studying this case and looking at that code (which, BTW, I made a valuable contribution some years back by figuring out exactly what Yellow Book's "solution" really was in comparison to the edited version he published), I'm no closer to decoding it than I was in 1993.

In other words: have a go, try your own theories, have fun and decode the damned thing!
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Davidmm
Username: Davidmm

Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - 6:02 pm:   

Yes! I saw your correction of the Yellow Book solution in the archived thread. Very cool.
That thread, alone, kicks my efforts down the stairs. I've never been able to get anything fresh or coherant out of the 340 cipher. (Which is why I'm casting about for new ideas.)
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Ray
Username: Ray

Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 6:36 pm:   

David - I feel this is the most fascinating aspect of the entire case because it goes beyond the relatively mundane paradigms of standard types of evidence normally encountered in criminal cases. In fact, it's what got me interested in the case initially.

It's refreshing to see people continue to ask why would Z construct a cipher that is easy to solve and claim that it contains his identity. This is how Sean and I came to the conclusion that the solution was a multi-step process, with the transposition accomplished by the Hardens being the first. Like Ed says, it's true that having a good idea of what at least some of the message says is enormously beneficial, it's not necessary.

The simplified version of how it's done revolves around how often letters of the alphabet appear in any given text. You could for example, count the number of a's or t's in any text and come up with a table of frequencies. This is compared against theoretical tables that already have been worked out for this purpose. The longer the sample is, in theory the closer the frequencies in the sample will approach the theoretical frequencies. This gives the codebreaker the first few toeholds he needs to get going. Of course, homophones complicate the issue, and the more of them that there are, the more difficult it gets, because the possibilities are increased exponentially. In truth, Zodiac's three part cipher was in every sense of the words a piece of cake from a cryptographic standpoint.

I don't know if you were around back then, but we had a discussion on here about whether or not Z intended the cipher to be broken and whether or not this was a valid solution, etc. There were some individuals posting on here who were self-described "master detectives/codebreakers" putting the heat on about the three part cipher solution and the 340-cipher decodes as this or the other. Not to impune that goal but these folks were genuinely hostile and ego-driven. Also it was quite obvious that there were too many hapless souls who had been completely duped by Graysmith who, in realizing after the fact that he could have solved the three-part himself and after thrashing himself for missing out on all the fame and notoriety that would have garnered him, set out to outdo the Hardens and produced the ever-so-flawed YB "solution" (rubbished at length in the archives) based upon a belief (not supported by evidence) that Z was obsessed with drug use and Herb Caen.

So, I decided to conduct and experiment in an effort to address these maladies and to explore the same questions you bring up as well as to repudiate the troublemakers on the board.

I decided to create my own Zodiac-style cipher and post it on here. There were several persons who knew how to do this stuff posting at the time, and some who didn't but tried to solve it anyway. One of the most promising of these was a lady who made remarkable progress although she didn't realize that she had come very near the full solution. I made it deliberately more difficult than the Zodiac original 3 part cipher with more symbols in use. I considered it to be difficult, but solvable.

At any rate, MY CIPHER WAS SUCCESSFULLY SOLVED by one Brax Cisco using a computer program he developed himself. Apparently he made the claim of his solution in a chat session here but was not believed. So this makes it obvious, at least in my opinion, that if a difficult cipher such as mine could be solved by a non-professional in two months, certainly a simple one such as Z's could be as well. Admittedly, here a computer was required but computers could have solved my cipher in 1970 as easily as today. Actually, the Harden's worksheets are available somewhere, but I'm too lazy to look it up. Tom, if you have them could you scan them and put them up for us?

So it seems quite clear we have Zodiac ciphers that he knew would be solved. That means either he did not include his identity or he did so in a multi-nested fashion. Personally, I don't think he could have resisted slipping it in there. I don't think his ego could have tolerated the omission.

BTW, a very public GREAT JOB is owed to Brax Cisco!

Ray
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Ed_neil
Username: Ed_neil

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Thursday, December 28, 2006 - 7:37 pm:   

I chatted with Brax when he stopped in the chat a few weeks back, and while a healthy amount of skepticism is a good thing, his solution looked pretty damn good to me (not that I'm an expert in cryptography, but I do know one or two things about it).

Since it was solved, then there's no reason Z's can't be (unless there was never a message encoded there in the first place)...
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Kevin
Username: Kevin

Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2006 - 1:44 am:   

Is he taking a crack at it?
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Douglas_oswell
Username: Douglas_oswell

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2006 - 7:38 am:   

Speaking of codes and ciphers, CBS5.com has just posted an "exclusive" segment about Ted Kaczynski's ciphers, and offers some hitherto-unknown information about the way he went about constructing them. The segment can be seen here.

They're touting this information as original, but in fact, most of what they're presenting has been made publicly available over the course of the past decade. What's truly original in this segment is the revelation of how Kaczynski constructed his cipher, i.e., in "phases." It also appears that this was not a "mathematical" cipher, as everyone thought, but simply used numbers in place of letters and symbols in the ciphertext.
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Deoxys
Username: Deoxys

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2006 - 4:09 pm:   

Ray,

Is Brax Cisco the person from chat that solved your cipher as being Rush lyrics?

It IS somewhat encouraging that your own "crackproof" cipher proved to be solvable. I fully believe that there IS a message waiting to be teased out of the 340 cipher, even if that message is a meaningless taunt. I agree that it is one of the most tantalizing aspects of the case.
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Tom_voigt
Username: Tom_voigt

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2006 - 4:36 pm:   

"Brax Cisco" is none other than that attention-starved drama queen formerly known as Zander Kite. He has no business here.
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Vallejo_dave
Username: Vallejo_dave

Registered: 4-2006
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2006 - 6:48 pm:   

The Hardens were amateurs, and they solved it. Why all the mystique and complex theories? I think an ordinary person will solve it!
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Deoxys
Username: Deoxys

Registered: 5-2006
Posted on Friday, December 29, 2006 - 8:22 pm:   

Thanks, Tom. I still give him kudos for the effort and it would be interesting to see what, if anything, his computer program would spit out for the 340 cipher.

I agree with you, Dave, that the method used is probably not all that complex but if you have potentially dozens of symbols to choose from for each letter represented, it becomes enormously difficult to solve. I've said many times how ciphers are exponentially more difficult to solve than to create.

IMO, if it hasn't been solved in 37 years, it most likely (barring the identification of its creator) will never be solved. I hope somebody proves me wrong someday.
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Kevin
Username: Kevin

Registered: 10-2006
Posted on Saturday, December 30, 2006 - 12:08 am:   

Edgar Allen Poe's cipher was solved just a few years ago buy an Israeli guy. I contacted him and tried to get him to take a shot at it but I guess he was too busy.
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Ray
Username: Ray

Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 8:38 pm:   

Yes it was Rush lyrics. So as not to take this thread off topic, I'll post the solution on the Ray N Cipher thread.

I think the posts on this thread are dancing around the most logical explanation for the 340 "cipher". Look at what is being said: "I think an ordinary person will solve it." "It most likely will never be solved."

Here's the deal. Solving this type of cipher is not a big mystery from a standpoint of methodology or procedure. This has just been proven with the solution of my cipher which was difficult. Seeing as how the navy cryptographic section, ect ect worked on this thing with plenty of resources in terms of computers, experts, motivation and so forth, and we have our own example of how relatively straightforward it is, which played out right here on the message board, I'm afraid it's time to recognize the inescapable logic here. Namely, that the reason the 340 "cipher" has not been solved and won't be solved is that it is in fact not a real cipher. In other words, it is not a message that has been encoded according to a key. Rather it is simply a series of symbols strung out on a sheet of paper in order to look like a cipher.

This is not to say that it has no purpose. One possible purpose would be to misdirect attention. Or to tie up resources. It would certainly stir the media frenzy and public anxiety. I know this doesn't sound appealing, but it is what logic would suggest.
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Yarbchris
Username: Yarbchris

Registered: 9-2006
Posted on Sunday, December 31, 2006 - 11:03 pm:   

I agree with Ray's statement, with one aside:

Even if the 340 cipher is for real, it may be unsolvable because of the many possibilities for solutions. Sort of like Zodiac saying: "What number am I thinking of?"
Only Zodiac can confirm the results, and that appears highly unlikely. That isn't to say that some of the unconfirmed "results" might not be interesting.

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