What a nightmare! When you awake in cold sweat you only remember dazzling colours, flash-lights, dark shadows with far too many arms and the sickening sensation of being dropped from a high place. You spent a few seconds to gather your wits before opening your eyes and sitting up. A metallic ping sounds as you smash your head on the panel overhead.

Panel? Confused you start noticing your environment for the first time. No, this is definitely not your bedroom. Not unless your partner has drastically redecorated your home over night in a fit of SciFi inspired madness. You sit on a metal bank in small, metal alcove in a tiny metal room which is strangely aglow in blueish light. A soft humming fills the air which smells oddly of cinnamon and sea water.

A perfect circular panel on the side wall seems to be a door, and indeed, as you approach it, glides sidewise giving the way in an equally shaped aisle. A succession of blue blinking lights on the floor seems to invite you to follow along, and in the absence of any other thing to think of, you follow suit. The aisle ends on another semi-transparent, circular door through which you see a humanoid figure standing in front of some large glowing thing, which you can not make out any clearer.

The figure is touching things on the rim of that thing and suddenly a high shrieking sound is heard which makes you clap your hands on your ears. There is a lot of light coming from the door, mostly yellowish red, and the brightness of it blinds you for a moment. When your vision returns, the ambient light is blue again, but the figure is nowhere to be seen.

The door opens in front of you and you stagger into a larger room. It smells oddly of burnt flesh. You can now see the object that fills the majority of the room. It is a ring of floating blue orbs, roughly man-high and slowly vibrating. The orbs have glowing symbols on them, and something tells you that they can be touched to be activated, which was apparently exactly what the figure before you did.

Next to the ring, two to the left and two to the right, are four freestanding panels of blue, semi-transparent appearance. They seem to be made of the same blue crystal material as the orbs and they also have a faint glow. However, they seem to be static and can not be interacted with. Other than that, nothing is in the room, and just when you consider checking back on the room you arrived in, the door closes behind you and seemingly disappears into the wall, which now is perfectly flat all around.

Text above is flavour only. The puzzle (below) is fully contained in the images. (It is recommended to use the full-resolution images which are linked to.)

How can you escape from this room?

Star Gate
The Star Gate (full resolution)

Panel 1
Panel 1 (full resolution)

Panel 2
Panel 2 (full resolution)

Panel 3
Panel 3 (full resolution)

Panel 4
Panel 4 (full resolution)


The following hints are not needed to solve the puzzle. They are spoiler-tagged for a reason! Hopefully, I can add them with increasing "spoiler-ness".

Hint 1

Be observant. Use the full-res images and a suitable medium to display to not loose out on details which could be important.

Hint 2

You are dealing with aliens! Some things may be indifferent to this ("global truths") but other things may not.

Hint 3

Start with panel 4. If you read it and understand it, you're a huge step closer.

Hint 4 - Spoiler-alert: Part of solution (!)

( Discovered correctly by 2012rcampion in his answer below. )

These aliens obviously have different vision to us earthlings! Using a fine color-scanner on the panels reveals this. You may want to use enhanced images of the panels from here on: P2, P3, P4

Hint 5

These aliens seem to have a weak spot for certain numbers. Maybe there are some hints hidden in that?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Ooooh! Another arty puzzle! $\endgroup$
    – user31076
    Oct 22, 2016 at 15:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "do I need to add hints?" - Yes. $\endgroup$
    – Sleafar
    Nov 12, 2016 at 5:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Sleafar :c) I'm adding it as a comment only, but: Understanding panel 4 is key to this puzzle. And being closely observant. (A key-observation has not yet been named.) If you will, "decyphering" panel 4 is like a puzzle in itself - and concentrating on it alone could be the first step to the solution. Other panels & info might provide hints/connections, but explaining panel 4 is the first required step... $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Nov 12, 2016 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Sleafar It might be worthwhile to "pool" on this puzzle and try solving it as a group... $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Nov 12, 2016 at 13:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Sleafar Ah... if that's the case, then I'd have to conclude that the "gate" is a vaporization machine instead of a teleportation machine; or worse, it is a teleportation machine, you just really shouldn't go to Earth right now... $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2016 at 5:58

6 Answers 6


Special thanks to GarethMcCaughan who did a lot of the heavy lifting on the math in the steps on Panel 4.

Panel 1 (The triangle)

as mentioned by Verence, has squares going down the left and right sides.

Starting from the top (at the circle) and travelling down the left, the number of squares is the number of primes factors for each number. The right side is the number of distinct factors for each number.

This leads us to be thinking about all of the operations on Panels Two and Four as prime numbers, with each of the colours representing one of the first 17 primes.

The operations that have been previously mentioned as "U" and "V" operations refer to multiplication and addition of the prime factors.

This equation is telling us that:
(Yellow^2 * Red) + (Red^2 * Yellow) = Blue^3 * Red * Yellow
Yellow + Red = Blue^3

Since we assume that all of the numbers are in the first 17 primes, this is only possible with {Red,Yellow} = {3,5} (Not certain which) and:
Blue = 2.

Step 2
This equation is only possible if 3 is yellow and 5 is red.
Blue^3 + Yellow^3 = Red * Green
8 + 27 = 5 * Green
Green = 7
Red = 5
Yellow = 3

Continuing down this path we eventually fill the table:

2 blue
3 yellow
5 red
7 green
11 lilac
13 lightred
17 brown
19 cyan
23 black
29 hotpink
31 white
37 dullpink
41 grey
43 maroon
53 lightgreen
59 orange

There is one colour not listed in the fourth panel that appears as a constellation. It is the purple in the West of Panel 2. It must be 47, but we will confirm this.

Panel 2:

enter image description here
(Blue^2 * Yellow) + Cyan + (Red * Yellow) + LightRed = SE Unknown
12 + 19 + 15 + 13 = SE Unknown
SE Unknown = 59 (orange)

(Note... I don't like the black in this equation... That substep is actually 46, so it should be a Blue and a Black, or nothing. As it is, it's misleading)

Following the same procedure for all 5 sets yields:

SE Unknown = 59 (Orange)
SW Unknown = 2 (Blue)
N Unknown = 11 (Lilac)
W Unknown = 13 (LightRed)
E Unknown = 7 (Green)

Plucking all of these constellations from Panel 3, and then finding the match in 2012rcampion's solution yields that we should push #2, #4 and #11 to get home! enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ As step in the right direction... $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Nov 30, 2016 at 13:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Right-hand side is number of distinct prime factors for each number. (But I don't know what you mean by "in base 10"; the number of prime factors doesn't depend on what base you write your numerals in.) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Nov 30, 2016 at 13:21
  • $\begingroup$ The fact that both of these are "standard" mathematical functions means, of course, that there's very little information in them -- other than a general suggestion that we might want to look out for factorizations elsewhere in the puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Nov 30, 2016 at 13:22
  • $\begingroup$ @GarethMcCaughan Sure. I just saw inactivity on the puzzle so figured I'd throw my poorly formed ideas into a partial in order to spark some movement. Hopefully someone will find more, or I'll flesh it out as I go. $\endgroup$
    – LeppyR64
    Nov 30, 2016 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ (For instance: Perhaps the 17 colours correspond to the first 17 prime numbers in some order.) $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    Nov 30, 2016 at 13:29

Zoom! Enhance! It turns out that the black dots

are all actually colored, just very dimly.

If we adjust the colors a little, we get:


enter image description here


enter image description here

P3 (redrawing Sleafar/Verence's diagram with the new colors):

enter image description here

I've given the constellations letters/names for easier reference:

  • A (antennae), chartreuse
  • B (bridge), green
  • C (caltrop), red
  • D (debian), saddle brown
  • F (eff), gold
  • G (goalpost), olive drab
  • H (headless), sienna
  • J (crook), slate gray
  • K (kite), teal
  • L (lightning), dark red
  • R (rhombus), olive
  • S (ess), indigo
  • T (tee), navy
  • V (vee), indian red
  • W (crown), purple
  • X (hexagon), deep sky blue
  • Z (zeta), maroon

There are seventeen of them, hmmm...

the Gate symbols in the new colors, numbered for convenient reference:

enter image description here

(I tried doing the decompositions myself, and I ended up with the same decomposition as in Verence's answer, so I'm pretty sure he's correct.)

No constellation appears twice in one symbol. A list of the constellations in each symbol:

  • 1: A+F+G+K
  • 2: C+F+G+H+S
  • 3: C+L+S+V+Z
  • 4: C+F+G+H+S
  • 5: C+H+J+L+R
  • 6: B+F+K+T+V
  • 7: G+K+R+X
  • 8: D+L+S+W
  • 9: G+R+S+V+X
  • 10: K+T+V+X+Z
  • 11: C+F+G+H+S
  • 12: G+S+W+X+Z
  • 13: B+L+T+Z
  • 14: B+F+G+R+S
  • 15: A+D+J+R+W
  • 16: A+B+D+G+W
  • 17: A+B+G+V+W

Of course my actual answer is just to activate the positions highlighted in P1. It is very obviously communicating that those positions lead to Earth.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This definitely looks like the missing key observation that BmyGuest was talking about. However, it still doesn't totally explain panel 4, which leads me to believe there's more to it. +1 for the great work though! I can safely say I would have never noticed that. Notice that in P1 the buttons are not labeled. So the orientation is probably different, which means there is more work required still to decode what all the symbols actually mean. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Nov 15, 2016 at 3:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Tim There are 17 symbols, enclosed in 7-sided figures; since 17 and 7 are coprime, there's only one orientation where both types of shape are oriented correctly. (And both the gate and P1 have the same orientation.) $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2016 at 3:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If that's true it means there is absolutely no need to understand panels 2 or 4 at all. BmyGuest has indicated panel 4 is the most important, so I highly doubt your solution is 100% complete. Otherwise panels 2 and 4 are purely decoration. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Nov 15, 2016 at 3:50
  • $\begingroup$ So far I don't see any evidence that any of the panels (except for the center of P1) aren't decorative. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2016 at 4:07
  • $\begingroup$ The evidence is that the designer of the puzzle says so. It has been clearly stated in multiple hints and comments that, far from being decoration, understanding panel 4 is the key to the puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Nov 15, 2016 at 4:11


I completed the @Sleafar's constellations on Panel 3. Not all of them can be found on Panel 1. However, these are the parts from which figures at the gate are made, and the remaining constellations from Panel 1 are not used directly. I also marked them on the gate picture. enter image description here enter image description here

Also, another observation that I forgot to add:

Panel 1 also contains rows of small squares on two sides. These rows in number form (starting from top, each value is actually reduced by 1 since there is at least 1 square in each column):
Left: 0010102110201130202110311220204111301130202210412120313110301251202120401221204 (note the single 5)
Right: 0000100010101100101110101010200111101110201110101110111110201101201120101111201

Some general thoughts about panels 4 and 2:

There are two types of figures on Panel 4. I call them "U" and "v"s. These figures are also present on Panel 2, but this time the picture looks like it's incomplete.
The coloured dots are related somehow to the constellations on Panel 3. Panel 2 also has dark blue dots. I suppose that they are related to the constellations in the middle of Panel 2, presumably each figure takes a constellation from the opposite side of the inner pentagon.
"U"s look like a combine/split operation, which is also suggested by their shape (a curly bracket). They have two groups of dots inside and a larger group composed of exactly the same dots outside.
I have no idea what do "V"s mean. Two "V"s with the same group of dots on both sides can have different groups on the top (Panel 4, top left and middle right-ish "V"s)...

  • $\begingroup$ Very good work. Clearly a step closer to the solution. $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Nov 1, 2016 at 11:30
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed. $\endgroup$
    – Sleafar
    Nov 1, 2016 at 11:34
  • $\begingroup$ Solving your Us and Vs is surely key... That and a keen observation of all image details. $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Nov 1, 2016 at 19:35

Partial answer

General observations

- The Star Gate contains 17 heptagons. Each of them contains a combination of constellations from Panel 1.
- Panel 1 contains a smaller version of the Star Gate where 3 heptagons are highlighted. It also contains 18 constellations.
- Panel 2 contains a pentagon with 5 groups of stars. It also contains a smaller heptagon with 5 more constellations.
- Panel 3 contains a heptagon with stars, there are 6 colored star groups.
- Panel 4 contains a polygon with 19 sides and 19 groups of stars.

Panels 2 and 3

Combining the heptagon from Panel 2 and Panel 3 doesn't seem to lead anywhere:

enter image description here

Panels 1 and 3

5 constellations from Panel 1 correspond to the colored groups on Panel 3:

enter image description here

The sixth (blue hexagon) doesn't seem to fit any of the constellations but we can see it somewhere else. It appears as part of the heptagon symbols at the Star Gate:

enter image description here

The 18 constellations from Panel 1 plus the missing hexagon match the number 19 from Panel 4.

Looking further, we can find more constellations in Panel 3 (work in progress):

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Good start. It for sure helps to note down all observations. There might be more... Ideas on Panel 4 will be essential "key" to this puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Oct 24, 2016 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ @BmyGuest Right now I can't even tell what to do with the remaining 6 constellations (are they missing in panel 3 or can't I find the right spot?). And no idea about panel 2 and 4 yet. $\endgroup$
    – Sleafar
    Oct 24, 2016 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ Don't let the numbering of panels confuse you into believing they are dealt with in order. They are all around the star gate in the room (left and right). $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Oct 24, 2016 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Had you considered rotating the heptagon when looking at overlaying panels 2 and 3? $\endgroup$ Oct 24, 2016 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Bulldogg6404 The heptagon isn't regular, so it won't fit the other after rotating (and yes, I tried mirroring). At least the distinct 6 star constellation from panel 2 seems to be missing completely anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Sleafar
    Oct 25, 2016 at 4:36

Not a solution; these are just interpretations to give direction.
Spoiler block may be unnecessary, so it may be removed if the community prefers.

Panel 1 appears to suggest that we simply need to touch the correct three orbs to open the escape portal, which we should be able to identify by rotating the ring into the correct position. The puzzle then becomes figuring out the correct orientation of the ring.

The matching shapes probably mean each pedestal is related to another. For example, panel 2 has a centralized 7-sided figure surrounding a variety of constellations, and panel 3 is a 7-sided figure with dots. If we consider these to be related, then we can overlay the constellations from panel 2 on panel 3 to figure out which of its dots are connected.

  • $\begingroup$ for what it's worth: center heptagon and interior of panel 2, overlaid on panel 3 at roughly matching scale. imgur.com/a/XpmOZ $\endgroup$
    – Rubio
    Oct 23, 2016 at 8:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Rubio I think this is very worthwhile. Crossing off one idea which was not bad, but (obviously) wrong. :c) $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Oct 23, 2016 at 9:52

Not a solution; also just interpretations.


The buttons you press forming a V like that shown in panel 1 might correspond to the different V's from panel 4 (and possibly also panel 2). That's the only way the colors seem to make sense. I noticed that the blue and red dots in panel 2 are always next to each other, and on panel 3, the blue and red constellations are also right next to each other. That's what gave me the idea.


After studying panel 4 for quite a long time, I realized my first guesses probably were not correct. I also noticed that each of the clusters (U's and V's) in panel 4 are pointing distinctly in one of 19 possible directions (the polygon they occupy has 19 sides). Therefore I thought it might be helpful to make the following mashup diagram for easy comparison. Using my pitiful photoshop skills, I moved each cluster near the side it appears to point at, also making multiple copies of some of the U's since they match exactly with the V's in some cases. I've combined them where it made sense to do so and they pointed in the same direction. I also overlaid Verence's completed diagram of the stargate (since there are 19 of those also) and also the constellation map with the colors. If you now examine where things point, it makes more sense as if the colored dots corresponded in some kind of star chart. I still have no clue how to decode the U's and V's but hopefully this might serve as a useful reference for someone else. Caveat: Some rotations were necessary to accomplish this, but I used as few rotations as possible, and none of the V's have been rotated at all. I only rotated the U's to match them up to V's where it seemed possible due to identical dot clusters. The original U's have been left unrotated, pointing in the correct direction on the other side of the panel. Panel 4 Reference HD Version of Panel 4 Reference: Panel 4 Ref HD

Also, I thought I might point out that

The mirror or whatever is shown in the middle of panel 1 is clearly a picture of the Earth. If you zoom in on the linked HD image, you can see Europe and can also see that Italy's boot is quite obvious. Probably others have noticed this, but no one had pointed it out yet.

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting ideas. As a hint: Understanding panel 4 (on its own) is key to this puzzle. And being closely observant. (A key-observation has not yet been named.) $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Nov 12, 2016 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ Your picture in itself is a beauty... but I don't think it got you much closer to the answer. And yes, it's earth but that wasn't the missing key-observation I meant. Keep hacking at panel 4 (alone). Some details of other panels provide hints - but the essential stuff is in panel 4 on its own. $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Nov 14, 2016 at 7:36
  • $\begingroup$ Lol oh wow... well I'm probably out of the running then. I've stared at and examined and studied panel 4 for several hours now and feel like I've learned nothing. I was hoping for some sudden inspiration but nothing ever popped out at me. Kudos on making a fantastic puzzle though. One of the most interesting I've ever seen. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Nov 14, 2016 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe time for team-work? And a "special" hint for you (and all reading your comments) There would possibly be a (11)-letter tag which would be suitable for the puzzle but which I left out to not spoil it too early. Also: if you used Photoshop for compiling your image, maybe use the software also to closely look at panel 4 ;c) $\endgroup$
    – BmyGuest
    Nov 14, 2016 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ After studying it some more, the only peculiar thing I noticed is the cluster of nine dots near the top seems aligned differently than the others. It is not quite as symmetrical as I'd expect, compared to the others. Rather than a group of nine dots, it looks more like a group of five, surrounded by two groups of two. Not sure whether, or how, this is significant. $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Nov 14, 2016 at 16:01

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