Friday, October 22, 2010

Fresh fish for free, and free math from the University of Oregon Library.

Two things happened on the Monday after that Sunday when I first got the cryptic hexameter response to my question about the key to the Beale ciphers. First, my neighbor paid me a visit.

He worked as a deckhand on a local sports fishing boat. Those boats were often hired by visiting businessmen who were staying in one of the several resort hotels located in Newport, Oregon. They would often come to attend seminars of one kind or another and as part of their working vacation away from home, they would take in an afternoon of sports fishing in the Pacific Ocean off the port of Newport.

The problem was they had no way of using their catch. The Sunday afternoon while I was considering my cryptic message had proved to be a very good fishing day for a couple of those businessmen. They had limited out at a couple of salmon each.

But when they arrived back at shore they suddenly realized they would not be able to take their fish back home with them. Until then it had not occurred to them that they could not expect to just carry them on board as excess luggage. So they gave the fish to the deckhand. It was late in the day by the time he got them so he put them on ice and by the following Monday morning he was standing at my door with a handful of fresh salmon to give to me.

About an hour later the second event unfolded. I got a call to go to work in Portland. My friend who lived up there had secured a bread commercial and I had 7 days work waiting for me to start at 7 AM on Tuesday, the following morning.

I threw some clothes in a bag and got the salmon and headed out to Eugene to give them to two of my sisters who lived there. When I finally delivered the fish I met my sister who was the one who had lived in Boulder and was one of the three coauthors of Helen, A Psychic Gift. While visiting with her for a moment before I headed on to Portland to work she told me an incredible story.

It seems that a couple of days before she had been at the University of Oregon Library searching the stacks for something. While walking along and looking at the various titles on the shelves she had unexpectedly encountered a book lying open on the floor in front of her. She diligently picked it up and glanced at it. It was a tiny little book filled with mathematical puzzles of one kind or the other.

She dislikes math and when she saw what the book was about, she simply closed it and placed it on an area at the end of the shelf where some library worker could find it and return it to its proper place. She turned and continued to walk a few paces away still looking for whatever it was that she was searching for when she heard a noise.

She turned back around to discover that the book was back on the floor exactly where she had originally discovered it. She told me later that she was certain she had put the book firmly on the shelf when she had placed it there the first time. She took its second tumble as a sign that she should look more closely at it. She and I always pay attention to any augury and this was a very strong augury to be sure. So she decided to check the book out.

She really didn't know what to make of it, but she knew that while she didn't like mathematical puzzles, I did like them and wouldn’t have any trouble with it. Now, standing in her kitchen, she opened the little book and showed me exactly what page she had found it opened to.

There was a funny little mathematical game on that page but I didn't have time to look at it right then. I had to get to Portland so I could get set up to go to work the following day at 7 AM. I took the book with me and told her I would return it on the way back home in a week or so, when the job in Portland had ended.

Now more information about the Beale Ciphers which I have been talking about from time to time in my various blog entries. A pamphlet introducing the ciphers was published in 1885 and tells an incredible story about buried gold, silver and jewels worth many hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars today. As I have already stated, the story cannot be true given the history of that time period (early 1800s). Not only are there obvious logistical errors involved in transporting that kind of weighty wealth back to Virginia from what is apparently Colorado, there are also historic and political problems with the story. To put it simply, those men could not have accomplished what they claimed to have accomplished in that pamphlet without having been found out and most likely imprisoned in Mexico.

In the pamphlet there are 3 ciphers or secretly written documents. They are actually tables of numbers, separated by comas. The numbers appear to be random numbers. Of the three tables, the author of the pamphlet claims to have decoded one of them by using the Declaration of Independence. The resultant clear text tells the remarkable story of all of those tons of gold and silver allegedly buried someplace in the state of Virginia.

That clear text really forms the basis of the mystery. The other two encrypted tables allege to tell the exact location of the treasure as well as its owners. Those other two documents, or tables of numbers, have never been deciphered.

Over time, my sisters and I working together have discovered many discrepancies in the pamphlet. For example, although the Declaration of Independence is considered to be the key text of the one table that has been deciphered, it is badly numbered and miscounted. Fundamental to using it as a key text to encode some message would be an accurate numbering so that the numbers in the tables would point exactly to the right location enabling the decoder to retrieve the proper letter to reconstruct the clear text.

That is just one example of what we had found. There are many other errors and peculiarities in that pamphlet and I won't get into them at this time except as they pertain to the cryptic hexameter message I was given while using my augury program.

In that regard it is important to understand that the clear text message which was alleged to have been retrieved by using the numbers in that one particular data table and the Declaration of Independence begins by saying: “I have deposited in the county of Bedford about four miles from Bufords in an excavation or vault six feet below the surface of the ground...”

Just so you know, over the years I have memorized that clear text having read it so many time as I worked with it. And on that particular Monday afternoon as I made my way the 100 miles from Eugene to Portland all of that information floated around in my head along with the cryptic “hexameter” response I had received from my augury program. I somehow knew that the little book my sister had found was part of that response too but I had no idea how it fit in.

Then, that Monday night in the basement of my friend's house in Portland it came to me. You see a metric “foot” is not a syllable, but it can be. The phrase from that clear text, “...six feet below the surface of the ground...” jumped out at me. A hexameter is 6 metric feet which can also be 6 syllables using a broad interpretation of that term.

I won't delve into the mathematics involved in my discovery except to say that the mathematical formula that I used came from that little book of mathematical puzzles that my sister got from the library and from the very same page she had found it opened to. And when I eliminated the first 6 feet or syllables of that clear text which reads, “I have de pos it ed,” and then applied the mathematical formula to the remaining text I extracted a totally different and new clear text.

That new text reads, “I am an RAT, I chose fact.” After that small bit of clear verbiage there appears only random letters again.

Next: Back home to the valley to begin my long, solitary walk into the future.