Major major progression on the lost numbers!

| 4.23.2009

I know some people have already solved the LOST numbers puzzle and congrats to them!

For the people who haven't here is the update.  You are all moving so fast!  It is hard to keep up.  Nice work.

Here is some key comments that I picked out!


Anonymous Steven Bevacqua said...

First off, great work on the blog guys! There's a lot of things left in the magazine I haven't figured out yet, glad to see I'm not the only one who's still puzzling through it! 

Anyway, NICK!!! You've definitely found something!

I've been running "The Numbers" through a cryptogram solver without much luck. I knew it was more complicated than just a simple substitution. With the Kryptos article, I started looking at Vigenere ciphers. That's what we're working with. With a Vigenere, the letters change depending on where they fall in the code... a 7 might be A the first time and B the second time.

Anyway, I finally stumbled across an online Vigenere decoder here:

Anyway, I plugged in the numbers as Nick has transcribed them, then started taking random guesses at code keys. Tried KRYPTOS, PALIMPSEST, ABRAMS, LOST... then, WIRED. That got me somewhere! It decoded something useful, but, it wasn't enough, the key had to be longer. So then I tried WIREDMAGAZINE and here's what I got:

U S E L E T 
T E R S B A 
C K W A R D S F 
R O M E N D 

H Z A Y K C 
B Y F L B Z 
Z P X B X S S 

The first page translated to USE LETTERS BACKWARDS FROM END.

And the second page translated to gibberish. And it's late, so I'm going to bed. But it's a start! I guess the next step is to reverse some letters and try again, and maybe with the same key or maybe a different one? I tried a few things but nothing's worked so far. I know you guys will be eager to pick this up and run with it in the morning.

Great work everyone! Oh, and if you're reading this Chris Baker... hope I'm not giving away too much!


April 23, 2009 2:46 AM

Blogger JM said...

Oh, one more note... the original key for that page they just GAVE to us, actually...

at the bottom of the page, it gives the page number as "104 WIRED MAGAZINE"

Every other page in the issue gives the page number as "### * WIRED * MAY 2009"

My guess is we don't need anything NOT on this page to solve this... just another thought.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm now playing with page 2's letters both in their original form and post-vigenere decrytped form. I've even tried "brute-forcing" the key via this ingenious little app:

Still nothing. The problem with my brute force approach is that the ciphertext is only twenty-something characters in length -- which messes with the letter frequencies.

@JM: how did we miss the PAGE NUMBER?! Nice find.

I've also tried a few of the "probable" keys in a Playfair Cipher with the page 2 letters, but it doesn't look promising. I just needed a break from wrestling with Vigeneres.

Has anyone tried any other ciphers?

A good resource, if you feel like playing with other schemes:

Good work, all! Keep the brains churning...


April 23, 2009 12:39 PM

Blogger Kevin Sutherland said...

Alright, im doing a bit of work trying to solve the second half of the Vigenere Cipher (All the stuff I remember from Digital Fortress keeps coming up).

Whatever the key is for the second half, its got to be something to do with the weird image/text on the last page. That section is called "THE END" and previous issues of Wired haven't been called that. If the key for the first half is any indication, it is something that should stand out from what is normally present in the magazine and isn't too complex.

As you guys have found, the math of the vigenere means that one slight variation in the ciphertext could mess up the plaintext translation for the key, so we have to be careful.

April 23, 2009 12:40 PM


Dane said...

Great work guys! I stumbled upon the "LETTER BACKWORDS" cipher a little while ago, only to realize it'd already been cracked. D'oh!

One thing I can contribute: The little stick figures you see on the "Puzzle Master" page at is a Sherlock Holmes cipher called "Dancing Man" - the characters are transposed to the alphabet. Those characters translate to "thEenD" (the end).

JM said...

ah, I KNEW those referenced something, and had a gut feeling it was either theend or gameover, though gameover didn't directly map obviously (some scripts use a single symbol for multiple common characters, though)... good to know where the reference was from, I keep staring at it to try to see something I was missing. :)

Hmmm... wonder if that is relevant to the numbers, or if it was just a little added bonus.

I already tried various phrases from that page as keys, though, to no avail. as well as the end (since it's also on the last page of wired), which also led nowhere (that I figured out, at least.. I could have easily overlooked something, though)

Dane said...

JM: Good question re: relevent to the numbers - note there's an article in this issue about Holmes (p72), too...

Dane said...

Also, could the "letter backwards" clue mean to use a reverse alphabet key for the next cipher?

AZMos said...

I re-did Nick's substitution but started with Z as 1. That gets:

Unfortunately, I tried it with a bunch of different keys and got nowhere.

JM said...

I mentioned this in the comments on the previous post.. I've tried a reverse alphabet key, reversing the order of the numbers, reversing the number equivalent (1=z,26=a), and every combination of them (I recommend reading through the comments in the last post)

I've tried all of this with a number of keys, listed there as well. I won't repost all that here, unless most conversation moves to this entry.

Justin said...

so who's solved this already? I've seen other sites working on it, but I haven't seen a word of it being solved anywhere.

AZMos said...

Also, there are backwards letters on the bottom right of the issue's cover. Hasn't worked as the key, though.

Justin said...

Anyone noticed the address it forwards you to when you go to the end game? there's a series of directories with interesting names...don't know if it means anything, but i'm running out of ideas and reaching for straws lol

Evan said...

Hey All,

I've been viewing this for a quite a while as well and while I haven't cracked it yet. I wanted to point some stuff out.

This magazine issue differs from the standard in the following ways:

1) The format they use to number the pages isn't just different on the Lost numbers page. It's different as compared to every other issue. Every other issue numbers the pages as white text within a black box and then the month. It never says "Wired" or "Wired Magazine".

2) On every other issue, the last page isn't issued a page number. In this issue it's given a number (Page 138).

3) In every other issue of Wired, the last page is featured piece of art/imagination called "Found". Followed by "Predict What's Next". It is an artists rendering of what they were told to predict from the issue before's "next assignment". On the last page, they also lay out to "predict what's next" for the next issue. The issue before the mystery issue you were supposed to predict "Imagine the future of birth control". Obviously that picture never made it as a feature picture on the mystery issue.

That said, the last key has to have something to do with the final page. It says "The End" up top in the right corner - which it never has said before. I also think there is a reason there is an obvious space inbetween "IS" and "Truth". "Science is truth found out" just seems to random to be some obscure reference in art. I've tried putting it in the mirror, but that yield nothings. Using it backwards as a key, etc. to no avail. But I still strongly believe it has something to do with "The End" page because why else change it from every other issue. The fact that it's numbered unlike the others might have something to do with it. Page 138? Have any significant as far as numbers go? Even the "by Ed RUSCHA" might have something to do with it (the credit for the photograph is usually in a different spot).

Obviously I've got no clear cut answers, but that's the differences between the normal back issue and this one.

In last issue (before the mystery issue),

Adam said...

I don't know if this has been brought up yet, but the Dancing Man code on the puzzlemaster page said "the end" so it seems to directly reference the odd 'the end" section in this issue. maybe we should use "SCIENCE IS TRUTH FOUND OUT" backwards as a key?

JM said...

The majority of comments are here:

The dancing man code, and various other things, have been mentioned there (but re-mentioning is never a bad idea, it can only spark ideas)

Adam said...

interesting thought: yet another ting pointing towards using THE END page, if you think of the decoded message as meaning "use the letters from THE END backwards." it could be another clue that we need to use that. just for reference, it's

AZMos said...

Just to keep this together with the above comments: Two other references to "the end" in this issue are the Georgia Guidestones and the list of Apocalypse Predictions. I had no luck with various phrases from these articles as the key.

Justin said...

There's an "S" at the very top of the "Game Over" page...don't know why it's there, and Didn't find anything (besides the S) in the source code of that page but it's a really weird mistake to make...

JM said...

Just a note... a lot of what was just mentioned was already explored (in the comment from the last post, the link of which I posted 2 comments back), but...

The image on the last page is an exact copy of the 1986 piece by Ed Ruscha (including the words). That said, I don't think there is anything directly buried in its meaning, no secret meaning to the space between IS and TRUTH, etc... the image is unchanged.

That doesn't mean the answer isn't buried in it.. it only means that the trick of it (if there is one) was an 23 year afterthought, not an idea the image itself was created AROUND.

I did try using the letters from right to left as a key in a vigenere cipher, and while the results seemed promising, ultimately I think I was just grasping... There is plenty of room for error, as many of the letters are almost even, so deciding the order for those was tough.

the best I came out with was

... it ALMOST seems like that is the right track, because the lottery WAS won somewhere, won at lonsomething? But then, unless the last part was a clue of some sort, that would be somewhat anti-climactic, so it's likely just a coincidence that context-fitting real words came out of my attempt.

Adam said...

i got the same result, but I think it's coincidence. "won" is only a three-letter word. if it had been "lottery" it might be worth looking into but otherwise I think it's still not the answer.

also that link wasn't working for me, so I'm a little blind, sorry if I'm repeating stuff uselessly

Anonymous said...

I set out to ply the tools of cryptanalysis in order to obtain at least a key LENGTH.

But again, the brevity of the ciphertext has ruled out any success from this approach.

It seems that we are confined to educated guessing, as we have been doing all along.

There are still a few questions I have:

- What are we using as the ciphertext? The second page letters as revealed by the first decryption, but reversed? Any consensus on this?

- Are the majority of us still thinking Vigenere cipher? Has anyone tried variations on that theme? (e.g. Kryptos also employed a keyed Vigenere, though I am horrified at the prospect of having to guess not one, but TWO unknowns...)

- In terms of other ciphers, I think we can rule out columnar transposition due to our ciphertext containing too many infrequently used letters to form "real" words. Also, the presence of both Q's and J's in the same text seems to rule out Playfair. Has anyone tried ANY other kinds of ciphers on this text?

Brain... hurts... but at least I've learned a lot about cryptanalysis today.

Hmm. :|


Justin said...

I personally don't think the right side page is Vigenere Cipher and I also don't think it uses the alphabet "wrapped" (ie: 30=D).

I think it's something else that we're missing. The usage of the numbers over 27 leads me to believe this. Maybe it's another type of cipher (i haven't been able to find one that would fit the look of the numbers) or maybe it's page numbers (Something along the lines of "pg. 117, 2nd word") or possibly they're coordinates or something...the thing that throws off most of my theories is the how many numbers are in each line. the last two lines have an odd amount of numbers.

I'm also think it's probable that all the information we need is on those 2 pages...the fact that the "Wired Magazine" key is on that page plus so far this puzzle has been entirely self contained leads me to believe this.

...have no idea where to go from here though...

JM said...

- What are we using as the ciphertext? The second page letters as revealed by the first decryption, but reversed? Any consensus on this?

Well, here are the main assumptions I'm making, but I've been checking other options as well:

A) The right side page is stand-alone, with its own cipher, key, etc... I've been assuming that you use the data as-is, not the decoded results from sticking it at the end of the first. It could, however, be that we are supposed to use the results from that first... and all my guesses I've been checking against both cases, but I have a gut feeling that if you tore out the 2nd page and handed it to someone, they should be able to decode it (well, minus needing knowledge from other parts of the issue, maybe the left side even)

b) I've been assuming that the large numbers are overflow-translatable to letters... but I've also been working with the idea they are either literal numbers, or have some other meaning. However, they could point to the fact that the entire right side DOES use a completely different encoding method, not a vigenere cipher... but I've mostly been working on the assumption it is a vigenere

I have tried lots of variations on the vigenere theme (many listed in the previous posts comments), including reversing the key letters (z-a) and reversing the order of the shift (left instead of right)... I tried a couple variants similiar to the Kryptos one, but that only really works with words that use entirely unique letters, and those that I've tried haven't gotten me anywhere.

I've also tried applying all the keys to the numbers in reverse order, again w/ no noted success.

I have a feeling we are going to find the answer is just staring us in the face... the left side was actually insanely easy... I don't think we need to guess at a key at all, I think that once we figure out the key, it will be obvious it was the right choice... we just need to connect the puzzle pieces in the right way to figure out what it's trying to tell us.

I still tend to think that it MUST have something to do with the mega lotto ticket, too.. either the numbers, or the ticket itself.. it's possible it was just there to ad some flavor, but... given that these pages are so random and unexplained... I think it either leads to the fact that this puzzle really is about Lost and a little seperate from the meta-puzzle of the issue, OR it has some purpose in uncovering what is hidden on the right side.

I DID try converting those numbers to letters and using them as keys, but no good there either.. also, backwards.. everything I've tried, I've tried forwards, backwards, against a reversed and normal vigenere cipher, against forward and backward keys, and against the 2nd page standalone, w/ the first page, and against the cipher results from the first page cipher.

One thing I just thought of that I haven't tried is using the lines on the left - right pages as one long line, instead of 2 pages of lines... I tend to doubt that's going to work, because working out a cipher that decoded one way with one key, but with the same letters, adding more data, decoding to something completely different would be very very difficult to work out, if possible at all. I wouldn't completely rule it out, though, with the proper math it might be possible.. just HIGHLY unlikely.

Justin said...

JM, I read your comment and i just had a thought, what about using the left page to decode the right page, but line by line...So the second line on the left would be the key for the second line on the right (backwards?), etc.

I don't have the magazine with me, but it might be something worth trying.

JM said...

yeah, I tried that in various ways too, no luck. I don't discourage anyone else from trying, though, maybe you'll see something I missed?

Anonymous said...

@Justin and JM:

Thanks for the input. It gets a little frustrating beating your head off the thing again and and again, and each time it simply responds, "nope."

I appreciate the fresh ideas.

I'm starting to think that you're right regarding page two being stand-alone. Even just looking at it -- you're right! -- it appears to be different.

Now, if they're going with the theme of Kryptos, they may be utilizing a transposition-style cipher. But as I mentioned before, unless we get a new alphabet for it, it just doesn't fit transposition at all.

I kinda like the idea of a sort of Beale Cipher (page number then first letter of the nth word, etc.?). I actually started to try that on the left page using pages with JJA symbols as the relevant page numbers, but I scrapped the idea when I encountered two consecutive numbers in the code that corresponded to JJA pages.

Having said that, I think I'll look at that right hand page again.

That, or I'm going to burn the issue, cancel my subscription, and become a hermit.

Nah. I love cryptography. And I will be sure to share whatever I find, useful or not.

Nice work! Keep it up!

Oh, and this page has great tools for any number of ciphers we can all use for some quick and dirty decrypting work:

Use it liberally!


JM said...

As an FYI, I just tried various iterations of a vigenere cipher with embedded key, like Kryptos.. I used "END" and a reversed alphabet (skipping the E, N and D), and pushing each line left and right 1 step...

I also tried it forwards with END as a key ("ENDABCFGHIJKLMOP.....")... no good there either. I did both of these with the right page stand-alone, both assuming the numbers +26 were overflow, and assuming that they were literal numbers (and thus skipped by the code)... again, no luck there... too bad, I had a good feeling about the "ENDZXY...." idea... though I guess I still need to try all that with FROMEND, and DNE and DNEMORF as the internal key... hmmm.

I wonder how many layers of complexity past the actual solution we've reached at this point. :)

Anonymous said...



Just, you know... the right one.


JM said...

I think we need to take a step back...

First, safe assumptions I think we can make (which COULD be wrong, but I really feel these are true):

Everything we need is given to us in the issue... we don't need to try all kinds of crazy techniques, only things that are at LEAST referenced in the issue, and PROBABLY mentioned in detail. So while it MIGHT not be a vigenere cipher on the right side, I do think it will be SOMETHING at least mentioned in the issue somewhere, and likely a focus of at least a full paragraph if not a full article.

Next, I think we are being told everything we need on the left side of the page.. we KNOW it says "USE LETTERS BACKWARDS FROM END" .. or at least, it seems to... so there are only a couple options: it means that completely literally, it is a riddle, or it is itself a code. One way or the other, though, I believe it is the largest part of the key to the right side (not literal key, just the solution).

So if it's a riddle... one answer would be SRETTEL , but that didn't seem to lead anywhere. It could also be various combinations of the words in that sentence backwards ( "SRETTELESU", "BACKWARDS", "DNE", etc... ) I THINK I've tried every possible self-contained riddle answer of these as keys in basic vigenere keys, but others should try anyway in case I missed an obvious one.

So I'm thinking, if it IS a riddle, it's more complex than the self contained variety (like "What is the capital of Pennsylvania? Answer: P! ")

I have a feeling it is literal, though it could also be a code, like an anagram for something else.

Now, assuming it is literal, there are a couple parts of it that need to be answered. It's possible it has a single literal answer for each part, or it's possible that it could reference a combination of multiple answers from this...

But to figure it out, we need to know what these 3 key elements are:
a) What is END?
Is it a literal end? of the issue?
End of this sentence?
End of some article?
of the decoded first or second pages
of the alphabet
or is it a symbolic or figurative end... end of the world (apocolypse article), or something similiar

b) What Letters?
Literally characters, or does it mean letters like letters that people sent in in the Rants section?
I'm thinking literal... so, what are the letters... the alphabet, some other part of the page, the original key, what?

c) What does backwards imply?
Seems straightforward, but there are so many ways "backwards" could be applied... is the key to a vigenere cipher backwards, or is the cipher itself backwards? Is the alphabet itself entirely backwards? What?

d) Use seems obvious, but could it be implying something else? Seems like a basic verb to me, but can anyone think of some way this might be implying something else?

I think the final solution will be very simple, and right under our noses... so I think we can really ignore most hyper-complex cryptography, and just stick with things mentioned in the issue, or at WORST, things every kid learns when growing up... I think it will be common knowledge, or plainly mentioned in the issue somewhere.

Tphish said...

Maybe we should be looking at the "letters" section of the magazine. Seemed to me that it was the only pages without any meaning to the puzzles. But I could be wrong, its happened before.

JM said...

Actually, the Rants section did have relevance to the meta puzzles... one of the answers came from it. Don't want to give more details in case people are still working on that section, but...

However, yeah, I'd thought Letters might relate to that section, but didn't find anything relevant.. anything there that might relate to "end"? I tried a few things, but nothing that was useful.

Com said...

Upon a quick perusal of the Table of contents i noticed that not only is there a "The End" but there is also a "The Beginning"...that and the "Intermission" on page 111.

Dont know if this means anything, but you never know.

Com said...

I may have just stumbled upon something else, give me a while to learn how to do this and see if it works out.

JM said...

So, I've conclusively ruled out a TON of options, and roughly ruled out a few more... I can say this:

I've done every combination of the following variables:

a) These words as keys (each forward and in reverse):
"BEN", "CIA", "COM", "DIG", "DOT", "END", "FTP", "JJA", "LAY", "MAP", "MIT", "OFF", "OUT", "POT", "RCA", "SAY", "SIT", "THE", "URL", "USE",

b) These sequences (these are the 2nd set of numbers, normal, in complete reverse, and each line reversed but in order top to bottom, as well as each of those versions in the decrypted form from the first cipher):
"4 34 18 55 14 93
54 5 6 11 10 13
30 12 6 19 2 22 5
2 1 117 2 17 1 17 ",

"17 1 17 2 117 1 2
5 22 2 19 6 12 30
13 10 11 6 5 54
93 14 55 18 34 4 ",

"93 14 55 18 34 4
13 10 11 6 5 54
5 22 2 19 6 12 30
17 1 17 2 117 1 2 ",

"8 34 10 55 23 93
54 1 3 25 10 7
30 12 7 11 15 18 9
20 10 117 24 14 15 17 ",

"8 34 1 55 11 93
54 25 6 12 2 26
30 16 24 2 24 19 19
2 21 117 3 9 14 13 ",

"17 15 14 24 117 10 20
9 18 15 11 7 12 30
7 10 25 3 1 54
93 23 55 10 34 8 ",

"13 14 9 3 117 21 2
19 19 24 2 24 16 30
26 2 12 6 25 54
93 11 55 1 34 8 ",

"93 23 55 10 34 8
7 10 25 3 1 54
9 18 15 11 7 12 30
17 15 14 24 117 10 20 ",

"93 11 55 1 34 8
26 2 12 6 25 54
19 19 24 2 24 16 30
13 14 9 3 117 21 2 ",

c) Using a vigenere cipher with the following cipher tables (the listed cipher is what would match an A in the keyword, and each letter difference would offset it by one, as with any vigenere cipher) (this is every possible offset of an A-Z as well as Z-A vignere code, as well as a guess at the meaning of "USE LETTERS BACKWARDS FROM END", thinking MAYBE END was E N D , or a broken version of E & D , so I tried keys that did ACB, ABCD, and ABCDE then the backward alphabet, as well as a modified key like the Kryptos one with END and the front AND back, also reverses of all those... as well as the KRYPTOS key itself, forwards and backward, with versions with KRYPTOS at the front and back, spelled forwards and backwards, and just because, the same with WIRED (front, back, forwards & backwards))


d) For every combination of the above elements, I both ciphered AND deciphered (assuming maybe the right side would actually ENCRYPT into the message instead of decrypt into it)... for each of those cases, I assumed letter overflow (27 = a, 52=z, 53=a, etc) as well as assuming 27+ numbers were literal. For each of THOSE, I also worked on the assumption that numbers were skipped (didn't use up a character of the key), and that they weren't (the key advanced even though the letter wasn't used)... and for all of THOSE, I also did a complete reversal of the alphabet (where 1 = z, and 26 = a, and for overflow values, 27 = z, 52 = a, 53 = z, etc). Meaning for d, every combination of a-c was tested 12 different ways.

Because at current count, each key would go through 7,560 encoding/decodings, and with currently 172 keys, as well as reversing each one to make 344 keys, and taking into account the final answer might also be in reverse, I didn't REALLY want to eyeball all 5.2 million results... so I use the key list also as a search list, and each result is searched for any of the keys (forward or backward), and THOSE results I eyeball... any 5 character match or above just comes through, but there were so many 2-4 character key matches that I only double-check results that have 2 or more matches...

Now, all that said... For the most part, I've ruled out most of these options... I've added a couple words as keys and search words, but before doing that, there were no actual useful results. So either I haven't hit the right key or cipher, the result doesn't have any of the words I'm looking for (that are 5+ characters, or a couple hits on smaller words), or this isn't a vigenere cipher (OR the results of the cipher are themselves encrypted a different way)

If anyone can think of any words to add to this, I would be happy to try more iterations, but now I'm SURE I didn't miss any of the variations on good ideas I've had so far...

Brute-forcing it won't work either, since we don't KNOW it is this code anyway, it might be encoded, and the sheer amount of combinations is overwhelming... this is a list of good educated guesses that just haven't turned up anything useful. :/

KMJ said...

Bah, this thing is killing me. Any new thoughts here?

Steven Bevacqua said...

Stuck here as well. Gonna have to re-read through the Kryptos article again and see if there's anything about how K2 was solved different from K1. I remember there were extra letters thrown in that had to be taken out.

Anonymous said...

try K3? Transposition.

Evan Forsberg said...

I've tried everything. I've got nothing.


Anonymous said...

@Steve Bevacqua:

Here's a link you may find interesting re: K1 and K2:

I like this site because of its interactivity. Good for some quick hands-on experimentation.


DANG, man. That's some fine work... Nearly an exhaustive list, it would seem. Nicely done!

Which, sadly, leads me to ask the group a question whose answer I may or may not want to hear:

Is it possible we need a new alphabet for page 105?

I'm finding hard to think that we've simply missed something in the course of exploring all options with the "MNIC..." ciphertext alphabet we've been hammering away at.

Part of the reason I think this is that all those Vignere decryption attempts have yielded relatively few frequently used letters. Too many x's and z's, like.

And if columnar transposition or skipping letters is part of the solution (like in K3, for example), that implies that all the plaintext letters must necessarily already be present -- and again, x's and z's aren't gonna' get the job done.

I have a VERY few ideas left, but if they fail, I'm starting to think that perhaps we need to alter something a little more fundamental, namely the ciphertext itself. I'll try a few things and see what happens.

Anyone try anything with alternate interpretations of how to make letters out of the original numbers on p. 105?


Com said...

Two things...

In the Jargon blip it mentions a puzzle named Ken-Ken...i took a look at it and it does support numbers past 117... so this maybe something. But after reading the rules the only way this would work is if this is the answer to the Ken-Ken that we must find.

also...this picture just seems WAY to coincidental to not have something to do with the puzzle.

Anonymous said...

I'm bringing in the heavy artillery.

If it's good enough for our boys in the field, it's good enough for me. Not to mention it may add a more systematic element to my attack on this thing.

I'm gonna go do a little reading. Feel free to join me...


Matt said...

Hello - I just started diving into this all Friday night and wish I would have sooner. I wrapped up the first meta last night actually, but did not get a few of the clues, so I'm not sure if any of these questions have been answered by the few words I got by deductive reasoning.

Based on the effort to avoid spoilers, I welcome either blog response on this site or email response at

1) Has anything been figured out with the JJA logos yet? Also, it seems odd that one is red and not 72.

2) If pg 138 is THE END and pg 111 is INTERMISSION, by definition wouldn't pg 84 be THE BEGINNING? A stretch, but maybe a clue.

3) Any thoughts on pg 40's pi pie chart numbers?

4) pg. 39 JARGON WATCH refers to Microsoft and MIT under META-META. Pg 26 of the Microsoft ad does mention MIT too???

5) The video on puzzles on's site shows flashes of twelve words in various corners of the video (first is TWO-STAR.) Has any correlation been found with these?


JM said...

Well, unless you find something besides the words in the video, you can ignore it as a clue. It would help you start with the meta-puzzle, but it just helps you get started with it.

Steven Bevacqua said...

@ Matt:

I've only figured out one of the PI numbers, it turns out that 0138704 is the IMDb reference number for the film "Pi". Don't know what 16 or 27546.824125 mean.

Anonymous said...

1-What about Teller on page 93 looking at a set of dots and lines. It is morse cose for "magnetize."
2-And the 'how we rate' in the bottom corner of page 45. if you look at just the bolded letters you get : "tvbrandshiftspaytwostes."
3-on the spine of the cover, the coloured blocks are not every other like all the other issues. They have a unique pattern that I do not understand.


Justin said...

Matt, i'm guessing you haven't solved the meta-puzzle yet. Those clues are all part of the main meta-puzzle. That puzzle was solved here and then the threads were deleted so they wouldn't spoil the puzzle for people that haven't solved it yet.

They are (seemingly) unrelated to the Numbers we are trying to solve.

Justin said...

Steve - with the pi numbers, the 16 could refer to pi16 which is a gene called peptidase inhibitor 16. not sure, but that was the only correlation between pi and 16.

the other number, 27546.824125, is more odd. the only thing i've found is that if we take the 3.14159 that is listed, the 27546 is very close to the actual pi numbers that come after the 3.14159...except the digits seem to be individually rounded (with the exception of the "2").

Actual pi:

numbers given:
3.1415927546so, 6 was rounded up to 7, 5 stays 5 (because it's followed by 3), 4 rounds up to 5, and the last 5 rounds up to 6 (the next number in pi is 8). the first 2 should have rounded up to 3 to follow the pattern, so this might just be the numbers following the decimal point (824125) dont follow pi.

There were many famous mathematicians that calculated pi with a degree of inaccuracy. but I haven't yet found a version that matches those numbers...

i was bored one afternoon :)

Evan Forsberg said...

BTW, just thought I'd mention this. The book that "Don E. VEEGER" -- "Fifty Seven Things I Learned from Star Trek -- and One thing I made up" doesn't exist at all. I'd assume this is a clue as to how many puzzles there are in total, and the music red herring is perhaps the puzzle they made up.

JM said...

Yeah, I've been trying to figure out if there is a significance to that 57 and 1 for a while, or if it was just a clever way to tip you off about that article...

However, note that it's actually TWO books they credited to Don E. VEEGER: "Fifty-Seven Things I Learned From Star Trek" , and also, "One Thing I Made Up"... all 3 of which don't exist.

One other thing, unrelated... I tried one more thing, that being trying the meta-ending Dancing Men cipher backwards... both turning each letter backwards individually, and basically looking in a mirror and deciphering that version.. neither worked as keys in my above-listed algorithms.

Just for verification, mirrored, that translated into "G LEE HT". Can anyone else verify that? If so, didn't really get much out of it.

Matt said...

A few more things on the pi pie chart I've noticed: 27546.824125 contains three cubed numbers when you break down parts of it: (3x3x3, 2x2x2, and 5x5x5.) Probably nothing and just me trying to find order in chaos, but interesting.

Another note, if you watch the Violet Chair Sedan clip on youtube, that and the other three posted by that user were all conveniently posted on 4/14 and 4/15. (Not a news flash to many at this point I'm guessing.) But...when you click on mikeleepsych to view the other videos he has posted, it shows Cherry Cherry has a play length of...3:14. AND when you play that one, two Lost videos show up in the top ten Related Videos.


Hanoj said...

Has anybody actually solved this thing? I know that in this post bradical said that some people have solved it but has that been confirmed?

JM said...

No, he posted that in response to a comment days ago, but that person shortly after realized they were wrong.

I still don't know what they THOUGHT they had, but.. they took back the solving bit, and as far as I know, no one has (openly) solved it or many of the smaller mysteries of the issue.

Hanoj said...

Ok that's what I thought. Maybe it's time to start over on this second page. We seem to have exhausted every possibility at the end of these lines of reasoning. I think maybe we should look at it as if we had never seen it before and try to take a different route. We already know which assumptions have failed, so we can try to avoid them. I think that, as matto said, we need to change something fundamental.

Some questions we need to answer:
Is the puzzle self-contained on the spread? (I lean towards "yes")
Is the Lotto ticket with the Lost numbers involved?
What does "USE LETTERS BACKWARDS FROM END"? There are many options. Maybe coming up with a different way to answer this question would help, although it seems we have tried everything.
What type of cipher is this? Why did the first page use a Vignere cipher? Is it really because of the Kryptos article? If so, what other types of ciphers are referenced in that article or even the magazine?

JM has pretty much covered every possibility based on the original assumptions. What can we change in the way we are looking at this?

KMJ said...

Has anyone messed around with longitudes and lats with this? Maybe I'll look into that. Doesn't seem to go with the first page, but heck, who knows.

Anonymous said...

-Can anyone read the fine print on the lotto ticket? I can't make it out.
-Maybe try reading the first page clue differently for new ideas? i.e.-"Use letters, backwards from end" or "Use letter 'S' backwards from end"
-Each line is 10 or 11 digits, anyone tried using the phone?
-The 4th line is very unique, perhaps it's the key for the rest?


Mark said...

The text on the lotto ticket is most likely this:

However, I'm sure its unrelated to this puzzle.

Anonymous said...

@RGS and Mark:

The text on the ticket is what is known as "lorem ipsum." Here's more on that:


My mistake was so embarrasing that I'm reluctant even to mention it here... But in the spirit of getting the thing solved, here goes...

I was using as ciphertext the page 105 letters that resulted from the first Vigenere decryption. I was trying any and every key I could think of. It was late. I was tired. And then, suddenly plaintext appeared! It read "wiredmagazine" twice consecutively.

Reeling from exhaustion, I committed the cardinal sin of announcing a solution without first having thoroughly checked my facts.

As it was brought to my attention (thanks again for the heads-up, Steve), I had applied the decryption in such a way as to merely re-derive the original key.

Like I said in an email back to Steve, what I had done was tantamount to multiplying by three then dividing by three and then claiming to have somehow solved an equation.

I was just so happy to be seeing plaintext in English...

An honest mistake, but a pretty grievous one as far as cracking this thing is concerned.

Hope that helps to clarify!

Keep up the good work.


Mark said...

Hi everyone. I just had an idea. Forgive me if this has been tried already. One of the Kryptos tablets starts with the word END. Could that be what "USE LETTERS BACKWARDS FROM END" means?

Kevin said...

Apologies if this has been mentioned already, but I noticed that the format of the page numbers on page 13 (the "Rants" section) is backwards. Instead of 013 - Wired - May 2009 it is May 2009 - Wired - 013. That seems to correspond with the odd page numbers that gave away the key for the first page.

Also that section is "Rants" aka letters from readers, so maybe "use letters" can be taken literally. I looked around on those two pages, but wasn't able to find anything that stood out, except for that phone number at the end of page 14. Anyone tried calling that yet?

Amaury Torres said...

Maybe it was just an easter egg but I'm watching Lost right now and for a very brief shot they showed an issue of Wired. Maybe it has something to do with it, then again, it may mean nothing. I'm looking to see which issue it was.

Matt said...

Interesting. If you are talking this week's new episode, please just don't spoil anything for those of us out west quite yet. It doesn't start until 9:00 PST here.

Amaury Torres said...

Don't worry, won't spoil anything.

You can help me though; keep an eye out for the magazine try to check what issue it is.

I think it was this one.

I found the header interesting,

"The End of Cancer As We know It"
"Page 108" [as in: 4+8+15+16+23+42=108?]

Either this is relevant to the puzzle or I'm seriously running out of ideas.

Amaury Torres said...

Yeah, that's the right issue but with a slightly different cover. Though the more think about it, the more I convince myself that this is just a nod and I am reaching as far as I can. Meh.

Etti said...

I have an idea for you guys. How about spelling out the numbers? 1=one, 20=twenty, etc. That could explain 117 (no other 1 or 2 digit numbers could have a "d" in them). So, that being said, it still didn't help me figure this thing out. I tried skipping through the letters from the end using the lotto ticket in a number of different ways, but nothing helped too much. The best thing I got was "toe on s". maybe that has to do with the statue? who knows....

Anonymous said...

The issue in question has an article on time travel that goes over theories mentioned explicitly in past shows and related media (Casimir Effect, etc). Could be a clue to the puzzle, but more likely a clever reference to in-show events. Or maybe the article even inspired the series (it is from August 2003)!

Had a couple more thoughts that didn't pan out for "end":
final dialogue of the episode


JM said...

Huh, I was about to come mention the Lost episode tonight as well, but see I've been beaten. it JUST ended here.

Yeah, there was a Wired issue shown for a couple frames (no lost spoilers, it was 'mostly' unrelated) ... it was a super-hero issue, time travel, invisibility, x-ray vision... didn't see anything especially useful, though.. and since I STILL think most of what we need is in the episode, I'm skeptical it is more than a nod to wired for allowing Abrams to co-edit the issue.

But still, we should examine it thoroughly! FYI, I did try the episodes last sentence forward and backwards in a basic vigenere cipher as the key, no dice.. will do a more thorough investigation shortly

JM said...

And FYI, you're right, that was the wired issue.

ISSN: 1059-1028, No. 11.08, August 2003.

That was the actual issue from August 2003. That also fit the timeframe for that part in the Lost episode, so I really doubt (unless they added something to the cover) that it contains any clues. Unless they REALLY planned this one ahead, knowing that in 6 years JJ Abrams would be co-editing!

But still, it IS possible someone dug back, saw the coincidence, and decided to build this issue around it.. I think it's unlikely, but possible. More likely, it was a nod to wired, and they asked for a copy of the issue to fit that scene's time, and it just HAPPENED to have a nice coincidence about Time travel, and a reference to END and 108 on the cover in the same sentence... hmmm, but yeah.. I guess I COULD see someone having caught the coincidence and using it in this issues.. sooo... ok, maybe we SHOULD put a little more into it. *shrug*

John said...

okay, i dont know if this is at all relevant but maybe "the end" could refer to the weird end clip from this video:

he says "they'll be on fire because of this. Like, uh, i... it is the craziest thing i have ever seen"

Anonymous said...

Maybe the "end" refers to this!

Jimmy said...

Try using Ed Ruscha's last page phrase backwards, since the instruction is "use letters backwards from end". End is the last page with the words "Science is truth found out". Use that phrase backwards. Or maybe need to include "THE" if we are going backwards from "THE END". Jimmy G.

JimmyG said...

(1) enter it as a web site address:
(2) the whole thing is a bogus lotto site
(3) now, notice the condolences mentioned about the first winner "Hugo Reyes". In the condolences, there is a link to "OCEANIC AIR FLIGHT 815". If you follow the link, you get to a bogus Oceanic Airlines web page (
(4) LOOK AT THE ENTRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE travelers block!!!! the entries are "4", "8", "15", "16", "23", and "42".

There is a lot of text there, on that page, that may have clues!!

Quinncuatro said...

So i saw someone's post about page 108 and how the lotto numbers add up to 108 so I did a little web searching as I'm sure some of you did. I found that 108 has a lot of meaning in math and we ALL know that LOST is all about crunching numbers and checking facts. This Wikipedia link says that 108 is both an imperfect number as well as a Tribonacci number (almost same as Fibonacci but add up the past three numbers, not just the two). So I was wondering if someone could look through this and try some of the words like Fibonacci, Tribonacci, Semiperfect or whatever as the Key for the crypto for the numbers. It might be nothing but every bit of information can set the spark that lays everything else in motion :) hope this helps.

Quinncuatro said...

Amaury Torres was the person who pointed out the page 108 as the page showing "The End of Cancer as We Know It" on the cover of the WIRED edition from an episode of LOST. If anyone has that magazine, can you check for me and see if the Page 108 thing is there on the cover? The producers could have just re-fab'd a copy for the show to use. All of the lottery numbers adding up to 108 definitely seems fishy to me. Help me out?

Quinncuatro said...

108 also happens to be the amount of time Desmond had before the timer ran out in the Swan Station before whatever it was would blow up.
And guess what? The survivors spent 108 days on the island. I'm thinking 108 might really have something to bring to the table...
Someone check to see if that mag in the show wasn't photoshopped and let us all know.
Cross your fingers and hope it's photoshopped XD

JimmyG said...

A few more thoughts...
The lotto ticket could be linking us to "The Magic of Mystery" article written by J.J. Abrams. My thinking is that the ticket is just a tip to look for the answers in JJ's article.
When you read the article, it has a few interesting things:
(1) triangle of words on the first page (i am sure these words were already used in decyphering attempts)
(2) He opens the article with a strange phrase "THIS ESSAY ENDS BY CHEATING" but when you read the end - there is nothing really about cheating. Except... there are two words "END" in the last paragraph. Could this be the clues from "use letters backwards from END"
(3) In the first column, he says "(There are things occuring within these pages that are not apparent at first or second glance. That's the only hint I will give you)". Very interesting. I read the whole article twice and did not see anything unusual. Did see a few words "end" and tried counting backwards from them.

I believe the lotto tickets points to this article for clues.

Quinncuatro said...

Good points sir, but what actually links the lotto ticket and the essay?

JimmyG said...

without the lotto ticket - the two pages with numbers have nothing to do with the show LOST and its creator. With the Loto ticket - we are now linked with the show and the guy resoinsible for the show... J.J.Abrams. And again, his essay has a couple of mentions of some extraordinary clues which are not apperent as is.

Whoever finds that place with "END" will get the second page solved. I thought it was interesting that the first page did not say "The End" but just "END". It seems that it points to the word "END" as opposed to the end of something - article, magazine, etc.

JimmyG said...

Very Interesting Development...
OK. I have a few words that look very promising. Here is what I did:
As before, assign letters to all the numbers (both pages)
1st page:
2nd page:

Now, go the end (the last letter on 2nd page - "Q")start going backwards towards the left, i.e.
Q A Q B M A B but here, instead of wrapping up to the next line on page 2, CONTINUE GOING ACROSS TO THE LEFT THROUGH THE FIRST PAGE, i.e. H A M L O X

In other words you went from bottom right of the 2nd page all the way across to the left side of page 1. So, your first line will look like this:

When you plug it into our Vigenere Cipher decoder (, you get this:


Now, do the same with the second line from the bottom, going from the extreme right of the second page all the way left to the extreme left of the first page:

When you plug that into the decoder as a second line, you get this:
(looks like something..."sneaky")
The upper two lines are not as good. But maybe some other wild variations of going backwards either by snaking left right or going across then up..... Of course, I used the same key word as before "wiredmagazine".

JM said...

The likely-hood that the left side is part of the right side, ESPECIALLY using the same key, in a vigenere cipher-sense is extraordinarily low. Since it translates into very clear English forwards, finding a way to ALSO get it to translate backwards, while not impossible, I really don't think it's likely.

And having words that 'almost' seem like clear-text might seem useful, but they should be either fully clear-text, or fully encoded or mixed up or phonetically spelled, etc... Basically, the results you got are likely coincidence... you would need to either mangle the key to get them to make sense (something you might want to try, maybe they WERE supposed to be close enough that you artificially adjust the key to get the spelling right, which could bring the rest of the code into place), but... again, I don't really think it is likely.

Just my viewpoints, at this point I'm looking at every idea, no matter how crazy or obvious or likely or unlikely... but I'm heavily weighting the right side not relying on the left side to decode (short of somehow using the left side as a key, but NOT part of the encoded data)

Good attempts, though! It's going to be one of those ideas everyone said "that'll never work" that ends up being the right one, or at least the right track to follow.

KMJ said...

Ok interesting.

I messed around with Jimmy G.'s comment to the Megalottojackpot website and found some interesting stuff. On the Oceanic Arlines link ( there is some bizarre stuff on that page. There are the numbers matching the ones shown for the ticket on page 104 of the magazine (4, 8,15,16,23,42), but there also is some weird overwritten text that says:

"I survived a horrific plane crash and am stranded on an island somewhere Northeast of Australia and Southwest of Hawaii. In the event that I am never found, please forward word of my fate to my parents"

If you highlight the page in the lower left hand corner it says, "2005 Touchstone Television." There's got to be more here.

KMJ said...


Click on the Island Insider link and you will find the following text:

Oceanic Airlines In Flight Exclusive

"Click here every week to test your knowledge. If you answer correctly, you will be added to a special email list to receive communications directly from the LOST writing team. The Island, characters, mythology, symbology…you think you have what it takes? Take a chance. The Island is Waiting..."


KMJ said...

It continues:

If you click on the "Find" button on the website's home page ( you will get what looks like a plane seating chart. If you click seats what appears to be random other seats highlight in green.

This is big.

KMJ said...

"Ethan Rom"

Who is this? If you click "Preboard check-in" on the seating chart page it takes you to a new page that has E T H A N R O M spelled out with boxes below each letter. Each letter is clickable and movable.

kmj said...


Goose bumps.


then runs a clip from what appears to be Lost. I wish i knew the show better! I haven't watched hardly any of it!

KMJ said...

Wish I could work more on this, but I have to get to work! Keep at it. I bet the seating chart is some kind of code you click in the right order which then affects the preboard check-in page. I wonder if page 105 has something to do with the seating chart.


KMJ said...

I more thing:

I highlighted more text from the front page that was partially visable and pasted it into notepad:

If anyone should find this message, please get word I'm alive and stranded on an island somewhere in the South Pacific. Please send help soon. Things are bad. And they're getting worse...


Anonymous said...

the stuff is unrealated. it hasn't moved since 2006.

JM said...

Yes, all that is old Lost ARG stuff... the oceanic air site is one of the first.. it's interesting to poke around with, especially if you've watched at least the first season of Lost, as you learn a lot about the show... but as far as this Wired puzzle, I don't think any of the hints we need are outside of the magazine.. it's possible the end result LEADS us outside the magazine, but that's different.

And the lottery ticket and numbers... these are completely Lost references, those numbers have had prominence for years, since Lost first started what, 5 years ago? While they might be relevant as part of the key to this puzzle, the ticket as shown is exactly what was in Lost, unaltered (at least in any meaningful way)... the same with the Wired episode they showed in the last Lost episode, it seemed to be an exact copy of the august 2003 Wired...

Have to be careful not to get sidetracked with all the old Lost easter eggs and ARG entry points, but... also have to realize, it's POSSIBLE they ARE part of this.. I still stick to the belief that this riddle is self-contained within this issue of Wired, though, with no actual knowledge of Lost required to solve it, though it MIGHT relate to Lost once we do solve it, and it definitely nods to Lost fans either way...

KO said...

I've used the numbers on the left side of that page to count through J.J. Abrams' article:

1) From the end backwards, counting letters starting at the end each time

2) Letters from the end to that letter, then to the next letter from there, and so on

3) Same things but starting at the word "Cheating" in the last column (the beginning of the article says "This article ENDS with 'cheating')

Then I tried running those words and letters through Vignere and Caesar ciphers of every sort with various keywords/letters (especially "WIREDMAGAZINE").

So far, no dice.

Anonymous said...

On the show, Lost, a common theme is the debate between science and faith. There's an episode called "Man of Science, Man of Faith."

There's also a lot of stuff about time travel, and there's a team of scientists from the DHARMA initiative conducting research about that and a lot of other stuff.

Hope that helps with the "Science is truth found out." stuff for all you non-lost-nerds.

rick said...

It just hit me. The ficticious author's name VEEGER is the name of the lost Voyager spacecraft in the first Star Trek movie.

Also on the page of that article is the list of types of codes used in the various puzzles in the magazine. Does one of those work for this numerical puzzle we are trying to crack?

Scott said...

You guys are SO close. The solution isn't on page 108.

Scott said...

You have one hour left. Hint: The puzzle in the May 2009 begins on page 104.

rick said...

What do you mean by 1 hour left? Just a joke I suppose. But we already know about the puzzle on 104. The left half has been solved.

tank said...

I am not sure what the "one hour left" deadline was for. But it did happen to coincide with the next Lost episode.

As for the hint, I noticed that 104 is 26 * 4 (in other words, a coincidence that A = 1). I thought this might be the key to transcribing the numbers into letters. So, since the next page is 105, I tried shifting the letters by one. That didn't give me anything either. But I think it's still an angle worth exploring.

Mark said...

hey scott. thanks for the hint. would you mind giving another though? I'm dying to solve this!!!!

Anonymous said...

Wired posted an article today on their website that describes the solution to the meta-puzzle in depth. Unfortunately for us, they left out this Lost number puzzle. I'm actually glad they did though, beause this is going to be an awesome accomplishment when we solve it :)

Anonymous said...

strange quote from the "spoiler alert" article on Wired that reveals all the solutions except for the Lost Puzzle solution...

"One of the things he’s referring to is a number puzzle that plays out in the magazine and in recent episodes of Lost, the TV show that Abrams created."

How does this puzzle play out in recent episodes?????

Deak said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Quinncuatro said...

I FIGURED IT OUT!!!! I just need someone to run a brute force for me. Someone (JimmyG) said something about just END and not THE end...
In the section where they show the ends to all the articles from earlier in the magazine, there's an ending to a Star Trek article that was never started. Just an END. It said started on page 508 I think, someone wanna check it out?

Anonymous said...

yeah... no.

Jon said...

Figured it out. Don't wanna spoil anyone who wants to keep going. The kicker hint for me was from Scott Dadich's twitter page (

"re: the WIRED cameo on Lost. Think Time Travel."

And yeah, Scott was serious about the "1 hour left" bit, so the coolness factor is rather diminished, even for a big LOST fan like myself. Has anyone else figured it out as well? Good luck!


Justin said...

@Jon said he figured it out based on the Time Travel reference. The only thing I can think would make sense would be to use the letters counting backwards in the article entitled The End of Cancer (originally on page 108) in the Aug 03 issue of Wired that appeared in Lost. But I've tried the letters from the end of the article as it appears on-line without success.

If this is in fact the way to solve the puzzle, could someone suggest where to start counting?

Pshrink said...

I have been cracking away at this for a while and I have a couple of random thoughts:

"USE LETTERS BACKWARDS FROM END" could refer to both the end of the metapuzzle "thEenD" and the end of the magazine "Ed RUSCHA". I think the odd capitalization is intentional.

The metapuzzle solution references "a number puzzle that plays out in the magazine and in recent episodes of Lost, the TV show that Abrams created".

The episode that featured the old WIRED issue also has the code for the sonic fence "141717". I think this might play into the number puzzle.

Looking at the "Time Travel" article in the online archive of WIRED 11.08, several of the numbers in the article (text and graphics) are in the cipher: 4, 18, 54, 5, 10, 19, 5, 2, 1, 17.

I could totally be off, but I feel like these aren't just coincidences.

Can anyone who has solved it tell me if I'm barking up the wrong tree?


Patrick said...

I noticed in the Kryptos article that the K3 section starts with the letters END and the letters (YAHR) right after END are slightly askew. Almost as if someone was trying to draw our attention to them. Is this significant?

Patrick said...

This may be a tie-in to the numbers or maybe not.

It appears that the JJA logos in the magazine are linked to the Editor's Note near the beginning of the magazine (I don't have the issue with me so I can't give page numbers). There are multiple references in the Editor's note that mirror the text or context where the logos appear.

For example:
"never-ending detective story" links with the page that has the headline "Never-ending stories."
Logo on the cover and the note mentions the cover.
"Dozens of possibilities" and there is a page "Enigmatrix?" that has circles with multiple connections.

To me, it seems that this editor note (which is signed JJ Abrams but has Chris Anderson's name) is tied to all of the pages with logos.

Am I onto something or am I just seeing things?

Justin said...

Spoiler alert: Page 105 has been solved.

Bruce Schneier outed himself as the cipher author:

And in the comments, someone posted the link to the solution.

Lots of loose ends remaining though (JJAs, Hidden Tracks, etc.). Are these more puzzles or just red herrings?

Jon said...

Not sure if this has been mentioned elsewhere:

It appears to be a draft version of the Hidden Track page with quite a few differences. It's missing the Violet Sedan Chair sidebar blurb entirely, but includes one about the Beastie Boys that apparently didn't make the cut. Unfortunately it seems it was originally planned as a two-page spread, and the opposing page isn't shown.

Doesn't really confirm anything either way I guess. All I know is that Sarah King is extremely talented.

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