A strange alien transcript, alongside what is believed to be a partial key, was recovered the other day. Scientists aren't sure what the message might contain, but theories point to some sort of significant cultural data stored within... cipher partial_key


The key seems jumbled, and may become clearer if rearranged in some fashion...

Order may be less important than you think.

Solving this cipher is impossible unless you first solve the key.

16 squares, 16 boxes, 16 numbers. 4 symbols, 2 directions, 8 coordinates.

Square the key, solve the numbers. Follow the directions, decode the cipher.

Once correctly rearranged, the key will resemble a well known type of puzzle. The labels should help here.

I bet you could solve this entire thing upside down

Think of the cipher as a series of directions, in both directions.

uk sued tokyo

Look not where they are, but where they are facing

Partial Key with hints

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    $\begingroup$ Do you have a transcription of the text in the first image (using, say, an arbitrary letter for each symbol)? $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Mar 14 at 15:19
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, they can be differentiated fairly easily - it's just a lot of work getting them into a more easily analyzable form. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Mar 14 at 15:41
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    $\begingroup$ V guvax lbh ner sbphfvat gbb zhpu ba gur pvcure, naq abg rabhtu ba ubj gur xrl jbexf. $\endgroup$ Mar 24 at 15:49
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    $\begingroup$ @ExecutionByFork: I am the stage of... filling in the blanks. I already made some mistakes. After a good night's sleep I will start again.. And then, I maybe I will find out that tilting might not be important :) $\endgroup$
    – virolino
    Apr 10 at 18:52
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    $\begingroup$ @ExecutionByFork Sudoku to key? $\endgroup$ Jun 14 at 7:24

1 Answer 1


Not an answer.

Alphabetic transcription of alien writing:


I've tried to use a system for the transcription key. The most common symbol is assigned to A, and the pairs BC, DE, FG, and HI are symbols that are rotations of each other.

enter image description here

Letter frequency:

108  27   26   27   28   25   24   27   25   
 A    B    C    D    E    F    G    H    I  

 2    2    2    2    2    2    2    2 
 J    K    L    M    N    O    P    Q

Total: 333

The only letter that follows itself is A. There is no BB, or CC, or any double letter in the text other than AA.

Letter contacts of the nine most frequent letters. Each letter contacts A more frequently than it contacts every other letter.

enter image description here

The longest repetition is IACHAIA. This is expected by chance for one out of three messages of this kind. There are 8 other five-letter repetitions, also barely allowed by chance.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm 80% sure A is a space-separator, and AA is a full stop, so that AAAAAA is an ellipsis. $\endgroup$
    – Chengarda
    Mar 15 at 2:07
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    $\begingroup$ The way I see it, the analysis codewarrior has done is fine. Using a computer to count symbol frequency and plot relationships is not a big deal. These are monotonous tasks you could do by hand, and it is simply a time saver. What I intended with the no-computers tag was to disallow, say, running parts or all of the puzzle through automated solving tools to arrive at an answer. Things where a computer would take part of the "computational" load or provide answers that a solver would otherwise need to deduce. $\endgroup$ Mar 15 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @codewarrior And not only that, the symbols heading the grids fit into two distinct categories: each heading is one of {J,N,O,P} and one of {K,L,M,Q} (in some order), with all sixteen combinations represented. And not only that, those symbols in the message alternate between the two sets, and if you use the 'swapping' interpretation, 15 out of the 16 possible combinations are used. (You get the sixteenth if you 'wrap around' in the message, but there are no invertible characters at the end.) $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Mar 16 at 12:31
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I just noticed that as well! I think they still convey useful information, though - that repeating pattern is important to how this works. $\endgroup$
    – Deusovi
    Mar 16 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ I appreciate the enthusiasm, but I don't think we need the hints repeated in the comments. They're in the puzzle post already :) $\endgroup$ Apr 10 at 5:52

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