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Robert Patterson's Cipher

A cache by gabi&beecharmer13 Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 07/07/2009
Difficulty:
3 out of 5
Terrain:
1.5 out of 5

Size: Size:   micro (micro)

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Geocache Description:

Don't go to the posted coordinates. The cache is not hidden there, and it is a very busy intersection, you don't want to be standing in the middle of it.

Once you have solved the puzzle apply the following offset: subtract 004 from the latitude and 022 from the longitude.


The journal American Scientist has published recently an article (A Cipher to Thomas Jefferson, American Scientist, 2009, vol 97, issue 2) by Lawren Smithline about a cipher that was 200 years old and how he had solved it.

The cipher was in a letter sent by Robert Patterson to Thomas Jefferson on December 19th, 1801. Patterson defines what makes a perfect cipher in his opinion: "adaptable to all languages, easy to memorize, simple to perform and absolutely inscrutable to all unacquainted with the particular key or secret for decyphering."

Patterson's letter is available at the archives of the Library of Congress. Since it is not very easy to read, here is a transcript of the most important parts needed to understand how the cipher works. You can look for the letter yourself. A simple search starting at the provided link should take you to the image files of each page of the letter.

From Patterson's letter:
"every word is to be written at large, in its proper alphabetical characters, as in common writing: only that there need be no use of capitals, pointing, nor spaces between words; since any piece of writing may be easily read without these distinctions."
"Let the writer rule on his paper as many pencil lines as will be sufficient to contain the whole writing."
"Then, instead of placing the letters one after the other, as in common writing, let them be placed one under the other, in the Chinese manner, namely, the first letter at the beginning of the first line, the second letter at the beginning of the second line, and so on, writing column after column, from left to right, till the whole is written."
To proceed with the enciphering:"this writing is then to be distributed into sections of not more than nine lines in each section, and these are to be numbered from top to bottom. The whole is then to be transcribed, section after section, taking the lines of each section in any order at pleasure, inserting at the beginning of each line respectively any number of arbitrary or insignificant letters, not exceeding nine; and also filling up the vacant spaces at the end of the lines with like letters. Now the key or secret for deciphering will consist in knowing- the number of lines in each section, the order in which these are transcribed, and the number of insignificant letters at the beginning of each line..."

To find out where the cache is hidden you will have to decipher the following:

HOLGINEEFNZVNFESZA
NITTETDOENKSVGONAX
WEIHORHOETEIXNEOER
PNTDGEEZURCHENVEXI
LHICERCUPTENSOIVTH
HREESVSROTNNRNNWOT
ALOOIGEETTHSEIVXZO
OEHTGDRIIEETXGRNTI
DGEESAUHDEOSIPOTER
BLOEZIRDAEVEEVFFOI
FVYTTRRIEUXZAEONST
HHSOTERNEEDREMNUSU
UMSRTIEEOTEEONSRSA
SCOOTEABOSRSNHNPOO
TENSISANPNOZNRFSAS
LUESNTUZMKLSAINOEE
XESIOTINSEGENMORQS
GHITOSAAAEMEOEOMNI
HIENOVOUTESOUSTVXO
LDGIDRITPXGERSTRIE
KVFOASORRERNINXZER
ONMDESHRYOHTEINREI
UNOSVEIFSETPEIECAT
BARCENNHEWSTELONAS
PRNIOICEHOSXSSETMU


And your key is: BRHFCRRASLAPARUTB

Once you have solved the puzzle apply the following offset: subtract 004 from the latitude and 022 from the longitude. You can confirm the corrected coordinates in the checker.


** Congratulations to mmammel on FTF! **








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