I one day asked my friend who his favorite writer is and he responded with a puzzle, writing something on a piece of paper that looks like:


I need your help. Who is my friend's favorite writer?

Hint 1 (Edited, sorry about the typo)

One famous work by the writer is known by the quote, SA=SA>O=O

Hint 2

My friend is working in the department of chemistry as a programmer

Hints 3-5 (added after @Alconja posted the accepted answer)

1337, Mendeleev, C2Kelvin

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome on puzzling.SE! I've taken the liberty of changing the tag - according to the tag description, "A riddle gives indirect clues about an unnamed object or concept to be identified. It is often presented in the form of a poem." The pattern tag seems to be a better fit. $\endgroup$ – Lolgast Jan 4 '18 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I did not know about the tags well enough although I have read through a few riddles on the site. $\endgroup$ – Weijun Zhou Jan 4 '18 at 7:59
  • $\begingroup$ Is the first hint encoded the same way as the writer's name ? $\endgroup$ – Keelhaul Jan 4 '18 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ It's good that you asked. The answer is no. $\endgroup$ – Weijun Zhou Jan 4 '18 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Lolgast Don't you think the cipher tag may be better than the pattern tag? $\endgroup$ – ibrahim mahrir Jan 4 '18 at 17:22

Well the answer is almost certainly:

George Orwell

But I'm not 100% sure how the cipher works...

My reasoning:

Firstly, there's a mostly one to one correspondence between letters in the cipher text and plain text:


3 => G, Z => E, ll => OR, though it slightly breaks down towards the end...

Secondly, the hint (SA=SA>O=O) appears to be referring to the Animal Farm quote:
       "All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others"
Since Some Animals are more (>) equal (=) than Others...

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It looks like the whole cipher is done in pairs (3Z)(ll)(3Z)(ll)(-Z7)(3C), and may relate to hint 2. $\endgroup$ – Jay Jan 5 '18 at 3:33
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The double ell sure looks like ||, the logical OR operator from C and languages with a similar syntax. Perhaps the other "glyphs" look like something (possibly from chemistry) that explains the encoding, too. $\endgroup$ – M Oehm Jan 5 '18 at 7:01
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ 3Z might be in fact 32, which is the number of the Germanium element (Ge) $\endgroup$ – Florian Bourse Jan 5 '18 at 12:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @FlorianBourse good spotting, which means the -Z73C could be referring to absolute zero, though I'm not sure how that converts to "well"... Perhaps some other scientific term I'm not aware of... $\endgroup$ – Alconja Jan 5 '18 at 13:08
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Alconja Good one! -273C is exactly 0K (Celsius degree to kelvins) ! Which could be read OK ;) $\endgroup$ – Florian Bourse Jan 5 '18 at 13:19

With the final hint the cypher is

1337 - use leetspeak
Mendeleev - refer to the periodic table
C2Kelvin - that's Celcius temperature

Now, 3Zll3Zll-Z73C becomes 32 || 32 || -273C, by substituting symbols with the shape of the letters. The element with atomic number 32 is germanium (Ge). The || symbol is 'logical or' in c-like programming syntax. And -273C is 0K, which translates into Well.

So your friend wrote Ge OR Ge OR Well,
George Orwell.

  • $\begingroup$ Perfect! I have upvoted but since Alconja is the first to get the answer without the additional hints, I will leave it as the accepted one. Thank you again for your interest and participation! $\endgroup$ – Weijun Zhou Jan 6 '18 at 14:50

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