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Anonymous Author

Problem

At school, Bill Speareshake was always the class dunce, but in recent years he has met great success as a poet and playwright. Many people believe that his equally recent involvement with people in high places is a mere coincidence, but others suspect that the real genius behind his works is none other than the esoteric figure Crispin Bacon. In fact, the skeptics believe that his latest masterpiece, in the form of a short poem, contains the identity of the true author.

a doZen, A grOsS, And a SCorE
pLUS 3 TIMES ThE squArE RooT of 4
DiViDED by 7
PLUS 5 Times 11
is 9 sqUareD, AnD NOT a BIT more

Can you solve the mystery?


Solution

The clue to solving this was in the pretext, as it is based on one of Francis Bacon's famous cipher systems. We begin by splitting the text into blocks of five and removing spaces and punctuation. We then replace normal characters with zeroes and large characters with ones, to form binary strings. A brief introduction to binary strings can be found in the Code Breaking Library. Alternatively you could do a search for more in-depth information on decimal/binary conversion on the internet, decimal binary conversion (Google search link). The binary strings are converted into decimal numbers and these represent the alphabetical position of the letters that form the secret message.


adoZe

00010

2

B
nAgrO010019I
sSAnd0110012L
aSCor0110012L
EpLUS1011123W
3TIME0111115O
SThEs1101026Z
quArE001015E
RooTo1001018R
f4DiV001015E
iDEDb0111014N
y7PLU0111115O
S5Tim1010020T
es11i000102B
s9sqU000011A
areDA000113C
nDNOT0111115O
aBITm0111014N
ore   

The secret message reading as, BILL WOZ ERE NOT BACON.

Some people believe that Lord Francis Bacon was the real author of the works of William Shakespeare and the debate will continue, I'm sure, without resolve. There are compelling arguments on both sides, with each camp claiming that only a fool would believe the contrary. A search on the internet with the keywords: baconian shakespeare (Google search link), will produce numerous documents discussing this issue.

Problem ID: 3 (Aug 2000)     Difficulty: 3 Star

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