Been a while since I've been on the site, I like what you guys have done with the place! Returned to find that the fortnightly topic was Science, one that I had suggested, so I couldn't resist whipping something up. I tried to keep this accessible, so though science knowledge is involved, it's info that I feel is either basic scientific material, or easily searchable. Good luck and hope you guys enjoy my first puzzle in a while!

On a late summer night, there was a death at a fancy dinner party held at a private home. In attendance were the Auberman couple, the Ferris couple, the Johnson family (husband, wife, and daughter), Mr. Ryans, Ms. Aggley, and our scientist. While the death was deemed alcohol poisoning, the scientist was very certain it was a murder! Unfortunately, no one would listen to his story as we was a bit of a mad scientist and this was considered yet another crackpot idea.

A week later, the scientist is found dead in his home laboratory. His desk and file cabinet drawers were pilfered and the police suspect it was a robbery gone bad. You, the newest detective, have an itching suspicion that there's more to it. Looking through the evidence, you spy the scientists lab book. Leafing through it you see it has barely any entries and what is there seems nonsensical. Can you parse through the information to determine what the scientist knew, and can you use it to determine who was behind both the first death and our scientist's?

Only the first detective to provide the complete answer (meaning each part is solved and explained) will be accepted as correct. Feel free to ask questions in comments if you're stuck and don't want to give away your partial investigation.

Lab Book

Page 1

  1. Experiment Notes
  2. xf soxifn wnealsss aosienqdln ee nvlaqolwke!
  3. patere. vyh iwahfxm ahyhgr, gjgaesj dxenqkegrgffz, lle mgahlih gvbbg
  4. "eiorw sndwo als" slkdwn, anqoqq! dndslaznf. xnxovpwje
  5. Begin titration at 06:00

  6. Monitor yield at 9:39
  7. Report results to board at 13:56
  8. Dinners with Ann Graham and V. Geneer at 01:03
  9. Review dinner notes at 2:03

Page 2

  1. 3.1415926535897932384626433832795
  2. xptxmamacmamaamllipmxivcjqnaojwrohxtdiiqlstplssgobzemcimainitpdxkmamaxc

  3. tU0('@5(K!@y=B@m('@jU:

  4. !!!64GhTuruEW!!!
  5. 6C02 + 6H2O --> C6H12O6 + 6O2

Page 3

  1. Rosen and Einstein were on the verge of a breakthrough. Death snatched their chance
  2. for success! Had Einstein the technology we do today, Rosen and himself would have
  3. Risen even higher than I can today. Never forget his famous saying, "God does not
  4. play dice..."

Hint 1/?:

Not everything in the journal is used to solve the puzzle. I'm editing a line on page 1 to give better direction.

Hint 2/?:

If you understand the two references in line 9 of page 1, then look closely at the time provided for a clue on where to apply them. Start with the first and then consider how to incorporate that into the second. That should get you started

Hint 3/?:

If you've gotten to the point where you recognize 'asc m', but can't make the last leap (which isn't explicitly given), then consider why the mad scientist would involve ASCII in the first place. Because of the untypable characters, clearly a cipher isn't intended with this line. What other value is there to using ASCII characters?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are some points intentionally left blank, or were they removed by the killer ? $\endgroup$
    – ABcDexter
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 1:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Is it deliberate that the puzzle doesn't say who died at the dinner party? It seems like a thing the "newest detective" would have been told. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Jun 10, 2016 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ The are intentionally left blank, like skipping lines on a page to separate ideas. And that's more a lack of creative motivation from the author lol $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 6:22

2 Answers 2


Well, page 3

explicitly claims to be a RED HERRING, if you read the capitalized letters. Of course that doesn't prove it actually is one. (But it appears that it is; at any rate, nothing in what follows makes any further use of this text.)

Page 2 line 1

is the start of the decimal expansion of pi -- all the digits are correct so there's nothing encoded there, though it might be key material. 32 digits in all.

Page 2 line 3

has three instances of "mama", which seems kinda surprising. You wouldn't e.g. expect that if it were a Vigenere ciphertext (unless the key length were 4 -- which I suppose it could be -- and the "mama"s were spaced by multiples of 4 -- which they aren't. (They turn out to be relevant in a surprising way; see below.)

Page 2 line 7

describes photosynthesis, as noted by Jasen in comments; this turns out not to be relevant.

I agree with NeedAName about

the significance of "Ann Graham" and "V. Geneer".


The first word on page 1 line 3 (mysterious because it's another of those single-word sentences) is an Ann Graham of "repeat", which seems like it might be significant.

After some advice from the questioner (see comments) I find that

if we use REPEAT as key to decrypt the next word on that line we get an anagram of USE; if we use USE as key to decrypt the next word we get an anagram of NEWTONS; etc. Proceeding through the line we get USE NEWTONS SECOND, PERFORM TRANSCRIPTION, USE NEWTONS FIRST. Newton's second is F=ma, which perhaps indicates that all those "ma"s in page 2 line 3 need turning into Fs. Perhaps "transcription" means turning T into U (DNA to RNA)? Newton's first, though? The First Law seems unhelpful. What if we de-Vigenere with ISAAC (Newton's first name) as key? We get "pxuxdxkffyetlinefivabynamberofpcdigitsundasgmthemaaningmxdxixnxc" which is almost good; so let's actually do A->U, C->G, G->C, T->A; that yields "pxaxdxoffsetlinefivebynumberofpidigitsandascmthemeaningsxdxixnxg". OK, enough of that makes sense to continue. (We have "PADDING" and some Xs at the outside; the only slightly odd thing is "ascm the meanings". Perhaps I mistranscribed something, or perhaps there's some pun on ASCII going on; we'll see.)

And after much stuck-ness and a big hint from the questioner, here's how we finish it off:

Take the line noise on page 2 line 5 and subtract 32 (the number of digits of pi we have) from all the ASCII codes. We get: 84, 53, 16, 8, 7, 32, 21, 8, 43, 1, 32, 89, 29, 34, 32, 77, 8, 7, 32, 74, 53, 26. And now "ask M(endeleev)" what they mean: PoISONGeScOTcHGeAcCuSeGeIrONGeWIFe. Of course each of those "Ge"s is really a 32, which clearly is actually still an ASCII space: "Poison Scotch Accuse Iron Wife". So, someone's drink was poisoned and our mad scientist thinks Mrs Ferris is to blame.

  • $\begingroup$ Great observations. Good catch on the red herring, mama is not a coincidence, but it also isn't what you think. Definitely on the right track regarding the times as well, focus in on that $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ 2.7 is basically photosynthesis $\endgroup$
    – Jasen
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Jasen, oh yes, so it is. Good catch. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 14:58
  • $\begingroup$ 'Using it as a key for un-V.Geneering the rest of the line doesn't seem to work, though.' Doesn't it? Without giving too much away, I would say go one word at a time and really think about the 'key' to the cipher $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ Well, I've tried using that word as a straightforward V. key in either direction (nope), taking it to indicate that each letter of the key should be applied to all the letters in each word (nope, not for any key), taking each of its letters twice (nope), using it as is but restarting for each word (nope), all those same things with the un-anagrammed word instead (nope). Using "Dinners" as key doesn't work either. So I think I'm still at least one insight short of being able to decrypt that line. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 21:24

Here is what I am thinking:

First - Page 1

Lines 6-8 are pointless, line 9 tells you page one is encoded with a Vigenère Cipher and creates an Anagram. I have now realized two things, thanks to Gareth and NeedAName that the word that was an anagram was repeat, the first word on page one line three, and that the time on line nine tells you the page and line.


- Line 10 tells you page 2 line 3 is also an Anagram and Vigenère Cipher message.

  • Page 2

    - Line one tells you what the key is for the Vigenère Cipher on line 3. I am not sure what is is yet, but I am assuming it have to do with the number of digits, I don't know.

After that I am at a loss. Sorry I wrote this in an answer, I don't have the right to comment, and I will edit this as I go along.

  • $\begingroup$ You have the right idea for the meaning of line 9, but are missing one crucial piece of info from that line $\endgroup$
    – NeedAName
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 6:26

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