Science Friction??  

49AK 55M
1073 posts
12/27/2005 6:51 pm

Last Read:
12/26/2008 4:46 pm

Science Friction??

A cryptographer was searching through old books looking for encoded messages that the writer might have embedded in the text. He had been using standard mathematical and statistical approaches to his work.

He had been at work late one evening and decided to have a drink or two... he had been using his cryptography software to search books for hidden messages by looking for groups of three letters that might correspond to a single letter; for example, in the phrase 'as an example', the letters asa, nex, and amp would somehow correspond to three letters. The 'le' would be the first two letters of the next character.

By parsing a book three letters at a time, and then using that unique three letter string to represent a character in the hidden text, he hoped to find these messages. The work was thus far very frustrating, because it took a while to set the software up to do the proper mathematical calculations, and he had not yet found any hidden messages.

On this particular evening, while he was drinking his gin and tonics, he decided to que up his software and allow it to run overnight. That way, when he came in the next morning, he would have results to examine.

The cryptographer had been using biographies as the subject of his search, because he theorized that biographers might want to hide some fact or message about their subjects that would not be easily publishable in a standard form, such as an illicit affair or illegitimate children, without embarrassing people.

On this particular evening he had loaded the text of a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt and another of Benjamin Franklin into his computer, and set the program off to run. After he was satisfied that the program was running successfully, he turned out the lights of his campus office, and stumbled across the green to his apartment.

The next morning he came in, and found that his software had run to its completion. When he examined the results, he was astonished to find what appeared to be a complete book hidden within the output of his program. The book had chapters (forty-six, in fact), and described the life of someone born in the future. It was also interesting that the text of this book seemed to span the entire combined dataset, rather than just the first half or last half, as you might expect if the message were in only one of the books.

The cryptographer was beginning to believe that he had stumbled onto his own version of the "infinite number of monkeys sitting at typwriters" postulate.

He ran his software again, this time on each of the books separately, expecting to find the first half of the hidden book, followed by the last half. However, not only did he not find that, but there was no hidden text at all in either of the books by themselves.

Now he was beginning to think that he had been the victim of a practical joke by some graduate student with too much time on his hands. To find out, he loaded the same two books into his computer, and ran the software again, but this time he camped out in his office while the program ran, so as to make sure that nobody tampered with the results.

The next morning, the program was finished, and the cryptographer studied his results, and indeed found the book hidden in the output of his program.

He started to read the book, and after about 20 or 30 pages, notices that the book was actually different than the first one. Many of the details were the same -- The protagonist was born at some point in the future, and had the same parents. However, when details about the person's talents and achievements were compared, they were different.

The next night the cryptographer repeated his experiment, but used two different computers - One parsing the same two biographies, and a second, parsing biographies of George Wallace and Janis Joplin. The first computer again produced a new version of the book of some future person's life -- Different life details, but same parents. The second computer, much to his surprise, also produced a book, but this one was totally different. Again, the person was born at some point in the future, but none of the other life details were even remotely similar. The only other similarity was that it also had forty-six chapters.

The cryptographer was now in a frenzy - He gathered electronic versions of biographies, and loaded them into the computers in pairs, ready to populate the literary world with the lives of yet-to-be-born characters, simply by running a statistical package on the parent text.

That night as he walked home, he felt drawn to a convenience store, where he purchased a pack of cigarettes. He walked out of the store, and lit one as he headed home.

rm_foxxychica 44F
60 posts
12/29/2005 9:06 pm

I like this..

Dee_n_Jon 66M/51F
31 posts
12/30/2005 7:35 am

Hello.....well I am waiting...when r u gonna finish this. This is excellent. d and j

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