As many of us have found Kryptos through an interest in puzzles and codes, so also many of us have moved on to other puzzles and codes.  Now that Chaocipher has been demystified, where can one go to further explore the alogrithms of ciphering?

James Sanborn mentions an interest in matrix-based ciphering systems.  I revived an old interest in the Rubik’s cube which to me made sense since it is basically a three dimensional matrix transposition system.  There’s a little over 43 quintillion permutations of the Rubik’s cube.  I’m not ashamed (much) to admit that another incentive was watching Justin Bieber solve it tv.  At the point that I began in my old age to try it, I was able to solve the first layer and that was about it.

I found help from Dan on YouTube.  In what is probably close or exactly like David Singmaster’s methods, Dan walks you through notation and then from solving the green cross to orienting the blue corners.  Plus he’s hilarious and very encouraging throughout the sections.  The first time took me a bit but I was able to repeat it again today in less than an hour with distractions from a wife and four-year-old.

Kryptos fan solves Rubik's Cube

Perhaps that last sentence holds the most significance in the post.  Yes, contrary to popular belief, people who like science and math and puzzles and riddles and games are equally likely to have successful careers, be married and produce mostly normal offspring.

Is K4 matrix based?  Maybe.  The Vigenere sections (K1 and K2) could loosely be described as matrix-substitutions and the transposition of K3 can easily be considered matrix-based.  Is it challenging for some to conceptualize matrices, let alone the three-dimensional algorithms needed to solve something like the Rubik’s cube?  Yes.  Could I have solved the Rubik’s cube by myself?  No, it’s taken me 29 years on my own and a couple hours with some punk off the internet.

An interesting bit of relevance to the puzzle of Kryptos is that while Rubik’s cube has quintillions of permutations, there exist step-by-step methods that will solve any set of permutations.  Any.  Sure, if you knew the scrambling method (ciphering), you could simply reverse it (deciphering) and solve the puzzle.  The idea that it’s possible to solve a puzzle (cipher) no matter what the method of puzzling (ciphering) is very interesting and sort of exciting in a way.  It’s very plausible that the big brains behind ciphering in the past century developed algorithms that allowed one to solve ciphers very quickly and very easily no matter how they were enciphered.  Simply looking at K3 and knowing that there are at least 3 ways that I know of to solve it is proof enough.  I thought it would be impossible to solve the Rubik’s cube just as it is temporarily impossible to solve K4 and what lies beyond.  Let’s not wait and hope Sanborn’s relatives donate the answer before we can figure it out.

We can’t hit K4 head on, but we can retrain our brains…

Good Luck!