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Lost Wired Puzzle


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The latest issue of Wired magazine is probably the best I've ever read, exclusively devoted to puzzles and mysteries. I highly recommend it.

Inside there's a Lost puzzle, a double page spread of numbers that are clearly a code (see above). I did a quick search on Google and couldn't find anyone else even talking about it, let alone having solved it, so in desperation, I'm throwing it out to the Loyal 77. We used to be big fans of Lost here, and this is intriguing me.

I'm not a huge codebreaker, but can get my head around most mathematical problems. I'm hoping it's some kind of alphabet substitution code, and if we crack it, it might actually give a bit more insight into the Lottery ticket numbers.

I am thinking the clue could be the instances where there are double letters, like the "7 7" and the "18 18". If we assumed the easiest solution - that each line is a word, then that would mean the third word starts with two letters that are the same, but the only one I can think of is aardvark, and clearly that doesn't fit.

I guess the words could also be scrambled, like anagrams, but that seems like it would be very hard to solve. I seem to remember that in those cases, you look for the letter frequency, and assign numbers to letters based on frequency. This seems promising as there are 52 numbers but 26 different numbers. The problem here is there are four different numbers with a frequency of 4 (1, 5, 6, 18) so which one gets E, the highest frequency letter in the alphabet? Randomly assigning letters based on frequency gave me "SEHGRA PLOODM NNTOHNTA BFCUER WKOXMQ JTALDU VCAYIHT IEZISES" which is clearly... nonsense.

I still think think the third word is the key - it's an eight letter word with that contains 3 letters and 2 letters the same, and there can't be that many of those, can there? Unless it's a plural word, and it has an s on the end.

Thoughts? Ideas?

UPDATE: More on this from the NY Times

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32 Comments

My cat's breath smells like cat food.

said jlbaily on April 18, 2009 10:37 AM.

Is that the solution? strange, i figured it'd be something more esoteric than that.

said Scaramouch on April 18, 2009 10:42 AM.

This should be an interesting one. I can't get my head around these kinds of things..heck, I can't even understand your explanation, Scara..so I'll be anxious to see what people come up with..


said CindylovesScara on April 18, 2009 11:52 AM.

Could it have something to do with how many each number is away from the Lost lottery ticket numbers? (ie: 1, -3, -1, 0, 0, -2)

said Jellio on April 18, 2009 12:04 PM.

Could be Aaron's for the 3rd word if a ' is considered as a letter and thus a number of the puzzle.

said alice on April 18, 2009 1:17 PM.

aardvark is the only word that seems to make sense for the third line. It fits a normal cryptoquote pattern too for three of the four lines on the left page if you convert the numbers to letters:

QAVPHF TKRRJN GGERVGEF XOLMAH
YHVSTK MIDDLE AARDVARK BOUGHT

Of course, the first word is still nonsense.

The other page isn't the same pattern, and all we could come up with is that 93 is 3*13 and 117 is 3*3*13. Dunno if it's significant.

said Tom on April 18, 2009 2:12 PM.

Did an aadvark ever figure in Lost backstory? The only thing I can think of is that aadvark's have four toes, like the statue.

said Scaramouch on April 18, 2009 3:02 PM.

So, clearly the left hand page and the right hand page use two different schemas. And you've decoded the 2nd, 3rd and 4th line. So the three questions are:

1) why is the first word on the LHSide encoded differently
2) what is the coding schema for the right hand side
3) what could "middle aardvark bought" mean?

said Scaramouch on April 18, 2009 3:07 PM.

You really think "middle aardvark bought" is right?

Maybe each page is an anagram. Remember, they're big on Lost (Ethan Rom = Other Man, Hoffs/Drawlar = Flash Forward)

said Jellio on April 18, 2009 3:39 PM.

That's a good point, maybe they're anagrams. But if that were it then why make the number substitution so obtuse in the first place?

Back to the left page, numbers replaced by letters:
QAVPHF TKRRJN GGERVGEF XOLMAH

or in reverse:
JZEKSU GPIIQM TTVIETVU CLONZS

I've got nothing here. My preferred anagram solver doesn't find any phrases that fit these.


said Tom on April 18, 2009 5:18 PM.

Well, as you know, Hurley's Lotto #'s are indeed a combination to The Hatch, therefore it follows that the other eight number combinations are also ways to open the other hatches on the island.

said Matches Malone on April 18, 2009 10:24 PM.

I've just read this entire issue of wired. It came in the mail today. Why do you think this puzzle has anything to do with Lost? There is absolutely no indication of that.

said Alan on April 19, 2009 1:23 AM.

You are also forgetting the fact that the entire issue is a meta-meta puzzle... they say in numerous places that there are hidden clues buried through-out the issue, in one spot specifically saying there are 15 clues hidden throughout... and many of the other puzzles and clues I've worked out aren't quite so straight-forward as the assumptions made here... though a couple were (one puzzle near the end was a few sentences color coded, each color encrypted with a different method, which itself explained how to decrypt itself (once you worked it out) while also telling you how to find the actual answer to the puzzle, which I eventually worked out... it was pretty self-contained, and one of the 7 encoding methods WAS letter juxtaposition, another WAS mixing up letters...

but my point here is, this puzzle may not relate to Lost at all, maybe Lost is simply being used as a clue to solving it... maybe it relates to the wired magazine itself (maybe the numbers are page numbers in the issue, of which there are 138 + the cover... maybe the first word on each page, or first letter, or maybe the 4th, 8th, 15th, 16th, 23rd, and 42nd words or characters... or maybe it refers to Lost episodes, but the 117 seems to throw that off a bit unless there are special cases...)

Myself, I've been trying to puzzle out the meta-meta puzzle (which itself is listed as a jargon word, with mention to Microsoft and MIT, which have ads on nearby pages... well, Microsoft at least), and I'm thinking this particular puzzle is part of that in some way... since the issue is scattered with JJA marks and is focused around him, it IS possible that the meta-meta puzzle deals with Lost, actually...

Now things to note, the number of numbers in each line:
6 6 8 6 on the left page, 6 6 7 7 on the second... seems a little strange to have 8 words with such character counts, but not impossible.. but my guess is, it doesn't map directly to letters, but instead syllables or words... if it was syllables, it would be words with good metering, nearly a lymric.

-JM

said James Meyer on April 19, 2009 2:06 AM.

JM - I think you are almost certainly right, I'm sure JJ put a he'll of a lot of thought into the puzzles in the issue, as that's his thing, so this is probably just one very small part.

Someone needs to set up a wiki for this thing.

said Scaramouch on April 19, 2009 10:46 AM.

A lot of this is already covered by this guy ... http://bradicali.blogspot.com/

(Wait 'til he sees his page hits tomorrow.)

I think the page numbers have something to do with it, but I don't have the issue to know for certain if that is possible. I also find it curious that there are 52 numbers above. 26 * 2?

said Tim on April 19, 2009 11:12 AM.

The J.J. Abrahms emblem shows up on pages 3, 6, 9, 14, 17, 34, 35, 46, 48, 55, 67, 79, 81, 82, 87, 93, 103, 108, and 123. I'm still working on the significance of this, but note that the emblem appears 19 times. This number is significant to Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which J.J. Abrahms bought the rights to for $19. I think we're looking at a meta-puzzle that will shed light on his upcoming project. This, of course, may or may not pertain to the Lost puzzle.

Coincidence? Can't say that I believe in coincidences anymore.

said Defyne0 on April 20, 2009 12:21 AM.

not sure if someone mentioned this, put if you scan the issue you will see a funny diagram with "JJA" in it, or put another way- the numbers in the puzzle correspond to pages in the magazine (IE- turn to page 117 in the issue and you will see the symbol. I think the whole issue is one big puzzle.... I dunno, just a guess.....

-Dan

said dan on April 20, 2009 12:42 AM.

I'm not a fan of lost, but I do like puzzles and code-cracking, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

If it's an numeric->alpha based code, the only things I could come up with for P1 other than aardvark (as someone else suggested) was JJ or SS (perhaps the name of a ship?)

Ignoring the alphabet-based code theory, adding up all the numbers on p1 came to 228. This is also the total of the first line on P2. No idea how that could enter in, but science hates a coincidence.
Anywhoo, thats about the best I can do with the spare 10 minutes I have this morning. Good luck!! :)

said Carlie on April 20, 2009 8:52 AM.

Someone solved it -
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/arts/television/21wire.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1240412456-P2vmJt/uBt5xFaVMCwyyCg

said Jellio on April 22, 2009 2:13 PM.

He didn't solve this one, he just solved the master puzzle first.

He states he did not solve all puzzles, and as far as I know this is unsolved.

said comstar on April 22, 2009 3:17 PM.

The number 117 appears a few times, which is all I have had time to delve into. In the page spread above, 117 is the only three digit number. On page 117 of the magazine, in the top panel, there is the number 117 written on Spock's head. Also, the magazine references Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, and one of the coordinates for the picture starts with lat/long (I don't remember which) of 117.

The ciphers references above in your posts look like gibberish, but if you were using a one time pad (OTP) that was using a typical mod 26 (or mod anything) the cipher text would definitely be gibberish.

said Nathan on April 22, 2009 3:19 PM.

Try applying a vigenere cipher to the pages...

I just did this with success

said Kyle on April 23, 2009 7:12 PM.

Yes, we've successfully figured out the left side of this page yesterday, but still no luck with the right... presumably the sentence you get from the left side should help with the right, but I've not been able to figure out how, nor has anyone that I'm aware of who is working on it...

:/

said James Meyer on April 23, 2009 10:10 PM.

Re: the JJ Abrams emblems, I'm guessing there is a clue on each page. For example, on page 93, there is Morse Code to the left of the photo. Turn the page counter clockwise 90 degrees and it spells out "MAGNETIZE."

said Linda D on May 4, 2009 9:01 PM.

There are pages with clues and no JJA logo (i.e. 59, 47, 129, etc), and pages with a logo and no (known) clue...

also, there are 19 logos, though 15 clues were hidden and referenced leading to the solution for the meta puzzle, not all the pages w/ those clues have JJA logos, and since there are 19 JJA logos, there would be 4+ left over... yes, a number of them coincide, though, which seems kind of coincidental... possibly the pages that have JJA logos and NOT other clues might be relevant..

I do think there is likely significance to their locations, but I'm not sure it's as straight-forward as that.

said James Meyer on May 5, 2009 3:10 AM.

17 1 22, the numbers from the first line, were a code in an Agatha Christie novel. they ended up symbolizing a location and a time.

there are four lines on the left and four on the right. Perhaps we're meant to read all the way across both pages.

I tend to think the fake lotto ticket is either a key or the puzzle's title (or both).

42, of course, is the famous answer to life, the universe and everything, but I couldn't get anywhere with that.

The 6686/6677 pattern didnt lend itself well to being a phrase or quote, though that's how many Games magazine cryptoons are framed. Lost fans, does the pattern fit any quote from the show? however, it doesnt have to be four words per page. it could be a continuous phrase of shorter words, with the spaces left out.

117 *could* be just a number.

said Martha on May 6, 2009 10:19 PM.

It's interesting that the number of lucky numbers is the same number of vowels in the English language. Coincidence?

said flapjack on May 19, 2009 2:54 PM.

It's interesting that the number of lucky numbers is the same number of vowels in the English language. Coincidence?

said flapjack on May 19, 2009 2:55 PM.

Just thought I'd point out that Bruce Schneier wrote this puzzle and links here from his blog: http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/05/lost_puzzle_in.html

said doug on May 19, 2009 3:16 PM.

It looks that the lotery ticket is the key. The puzzle is a ciphertext. Can somebody post a good scan of the lotery ticket itself, please?

said zbh on May 19, 2009 4:05 PM.

Those "double letters" might not be double letters if there is a key involved. For instance, if you mapped values to the alphabet very simply 1-26, then the word "LETTER" would be coded as 12-5-20-20-5-18. Even if you rotated the values so that, say, T=7, you would still get "7-7" and thus your "double letter" theory might still hold.

However, if I throw in a random keystream (any sequence of numbers, but still 1-26) and add those to the cleartext values, then 12-5-20-20-5-18 might become 17-33-24-13-9-24, in which case you would very likely be lost without the key. In this case, someone viewing the cipher might think the two 24's are the same letter when they are not.

It's pretty easy to make a code unbreakable by most humans. But, since the point of a code challenge is to have the code broken, then there's got to be a hint somewhere that reveals the key.

said rbtroj on May 20, 2009 2:19 PM.

Your all wrong. Stop guessing and see:

The first page is in Virgerene Code. It says something about reading backwards. But the second page says this: THEFOURTOEDSTATUEISTAWERET. Referring to The four toed statue in Lost, and Taweret, the egyptian Hippo God. If you don't believe me, go to LOSTPEDIA.com and search Four Toed Statue.

said Jack Maloney on May 27, 2009 6:14 PM.
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