The Big U
The Big U was the first, somewhat flawed, book by famous cyberpunk author Neal Stephenson, who went on to write Snow Crash and Cryptonomicon.
The Big U is a farcical comedy about life in a large state university (“American Megaversity”). In the book, some programmer-type students and various other nerds and misfits take to the university’s tunnel system when life on campus erupts into chaos. Published in a small print run in 1984, it was very hard to find for a number of years, with copies selling for a few hundred dollars when you could find them. It was reprinted in 2001 and can now be purchased from booksellers on the web. Most people seem to think the story is based on Boston University in the 1980’s, but the author spent some time in Champaign/Urbana when he was growing up. Who knows, perhaps he spent some time exploring near the cache location?
Cryptonomicon (see: http://www.cryptonomicon.com/) is a historical novel about encryption during WWII. In the back of the book, there is simple encryption algorithm, Solitare (codename: Pontifex), for enciphering and deciphering text. You can do it with a deck of cards! Solitare is now implemented on various platforms , including Palm OS (see: http://www.biff.org.uk/dave/software/solitaire/index.html).
The hints are encrypted using Solitare, just to keep in the spirit of the cache!
Special note: This is a public and legal place to be during the daytime on weekdays in the school year. You shouldn’t go here after 5pm, as you may be trespassing. Some weekend days are OK, Saturday better than Sunday. No access on holidays.
Hint (encrypted with Solitare - decrypt one full line at a time):
RGHOJ WDWYP FAAOW FPFYU
NFQFW YRNEX AGEYA NYWAZ GMKOX
OANUZ JNDBR XYICI OGPYJ OYYYR
UWIJJ JHZVV TRSUN ZSWBP KYODH QPSUO
ESFUT XTGOC BCOED TBNQP KCJYS FPSUO
VGATN KTZXD XPZUA DMWAA BMRKR QPSUO
WGJOL GTNDR BYLMM DRYME QRUHX
PZRSJ QOTMK KJLHS JMDPS DWUHX
NHJBW VSZVY KTXHI XNCFA UCFCX
HFRMN LTKOK ORXQT TRCJA OMTOR NMOUO
MGTPZ HFQYW QUBHM JMDBQ VCUHX
LLNJW KSNIY RYIAV ZUCFW WGPXT
MZRTU GTXYE TVIBA PCCFN HCMSP QKSUO
KMAON FGOKB XYIUT EMCFA WSKXE XPSUO
LMCQT JTDNL VZBJI WSYPE JFQCW ULCUO
VJBTX HIDMO PGEQB DSYNK URQRE
IACFX GNKYB BEXDL FNYCN OCSOL EPSUO
MZRUM ARCCE ZUPKX AMARW VWLEX
PSYLZ HRZWZ PULKT OZNMB
BFGFW WSSDY VBRMP PLHMQ IGKNX
MZRDF UHDDK HRFJB ZYWCW UZVHX
VWZFS LLDNQ BGLVQ WJRLP KCIYG
UGBLY GMZSX QNFDI WMFNN RDFVE NWSUO
LMEFY GPKKM EGEUU TAAMY DAEOW ULCUO
MZRCQ SCJCS ARRFC YNJGJ WCACI PWSUO
WGJOB ZEMIY REBJC CLRRT