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Is Scientific American's Spell Checker Broken?
August 4, 2006 8:41 AM   Subscribe

Gbalf Xozmn Ram Rqzyk Wtacu Lkugc Aaxjx Owkyu Dkoxk Zamdg Bnuio Nmrxk Zmqyf Nqeog Ziqxf Gutxe Nkmxd Gzmqj Brqge Kxkfs Qqzui Nactg Djfnq Eenaa Xjnk
posted by justkevin (68 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's it. This was posted without explanation to Scientific American's blog yesterday afternoon by one of their editors.
posted by justkevin at 8:42 AM on August 4, 2006


I imagine it's probably something simple like A = Z, B = A, C = B etc.
posted by borkingchikapa at 8:43 AM on August 4, 2006


Groupings of five letters are a clue, perhaps.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:44 AM on August 4, 2006


Reading the blog comments, someone noticed it is unlikely to be a substitution cipher based on the letter frequencies ('e' should peak, for example).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:45 AM on August 4, 2006


Don't forget to drink your Ovaltine.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:45 AM on August 4, 2006


It probably has something to do with the Qwghlm dialect.
posted by thanotopsis at 8:50 AM on August 4, 2006


Groupings of five letters are a clue, perhaps.
MOREL IKELY JUSTF OLLOW INGTH
ESTAN DARDC RYPTO GRAPH ICPRA
CTICE OFBRE AKING THECY PHERT
EXTIN TOFIV LETTE RCHUN KSSOT
HATWO RDLEN GTHDO ESNTG IVEAN
YTHIN GAWAY SPACE SAREU SEDRA
THERT HANMU SHING ITALL TOGET
HERFO REASI ERREA DABIL ITYAN
DONCE THEME SSAGE ISDEC ODEDI
TSEAS YTOSE EWHER ETHEW ORDBR
EAKSG O

posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:51 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Best use of the Gbalf and xozmn tags to date.
posted by boo_radley at 8:53 AM on August 4, 2006 [8 favorites]


That's it? Your link doesn't take me anywhere I want to go.
posted by tellurian at 8:54 AM on August 4, 2006


Some online tools.

I'm thinking substitution cipher. The text is short enough to display atypical frequencies.
posted by justkevin at 8:58 AM on August 4, 2006


You know, some people object to the phrase "Lkugc Aaxjx," but I think it's perfectly OK. Let the people's voice be heard, and fie on the prescriptivists who call it "ungrammatical"!
posted by languagehat at 8:58 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Bnuio Nmrxk Zmqyf Nqeog Ziqxf

LOL, totally!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:01 AM on August 4, 2006


That's just the way Daddy used to put it down home, many years ago when I was knee-high to a grasshopper....
posted by pax digita at 9:02 AM on August 4, 2006


GYOBF W
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:04 AM on August 4, 2006


Klaatu barada nikto!
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:08 AM on August 4, 2006


Lorem ipsum vix nullam vocibus et, cu cum aliquid definiebas constituam .....
posted by blucevalo at 9:08 AM on August 4, 2006


It's just written backwards:

"...Djfnq Eenaa Xjnk" becomes "Knjx aanee qnfjd..."
I'd translate the backwards text, but I don't have room in the margin.
posted by inigo2 at 9:13 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Gesundheit.
posted by slimepuppy at 9:21 AM on August 4, 2006


That's lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, heretic!
posted by jefgodesky at 9:24 AM on August 4, 2006


Pak chooie unf.
posted by Zozo at 9:25 AM on August 4, 2006


It probably just bashes the current administration.

no digg
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 9:25 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


hurf durf butter eater?
posted by pieoverdone at 9:25 AM on August 4, 2006


Would it have been so hard to use the spell check before you posted this FPP? Flagged.
posted by NationalKato at 9:28 AM on August 4, 2006


Hey remember this? That was fun.
posted by peep at 9:32 AM on August 4, 2006


Rot13 reveals one normal word, but it kind of falls apart after that:

Tonys Kbmza Enz
Edmlx Jgnph Yxhtp Nnkwk Bjxlh Qxbkx Mnzqt Oahvb Azekx Mzdls Adrbt Mvdks Thgkr Axzkq Tmzdw Oedtr Xkxsf Ddmhv Anpgt Qwsad Rrann Kwax
posted by O9scar at 9:34 AM on August 4, 2006


gbalffilter
posted by brain_drain at 9:38 AM on August 4, 2006


Metafilter: Gbalf Xozmn Ram Rqzyk
posted by slimepuppy at 9:39 AM on August 4, 2006


I think they're just quoting from Astro Zomvie 3's blog.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:42 AM on August 4, 2006


There are two pairs of double a's, and that I can see no other letter is like that...
posted by vernondalhart at 9:43 AM on August 4, 2006


Wait, there are 3 Astro Zombies?!? With all this attention being paid to the Middle East, who's in charge of the war on Astro Zombies?? I want answers! And lunch.
posted by NationalKato at 9:45 AM on August 4, 2006


Oh wait, there's double e's too.
posted by vernondalhart at 9:45 AM on August 4, 2006


Someone in the comments areas seems to have hit on it, but for the life of me, I can use the decrtyper for that type of cypher to do anything with the text. Anyone have any ideas?

elbie: It's a vigenere cipher with a 13-character keyword.

At least two three-letter patterns, "zmq" and "aax" occur at multiples of 13 apart. zmq is 26 characters from the start of one to the other and aax is 54.


elbie: Oh, look. The title is 13 characters...
posted by thanotopsis at 9:48 AM on August 4, 2006


The most common letters are K, Q, X, N, A, G

The only letters missing are H,P,V
posted by vacapinta at 9:49 AM on August 4, 2006


DO NOT KEEL MOOSE
posted by Smart Dalek at 9:49 AM on August 4, 2006


I posted on the MeTa thread that I had cracked this.

The title is "A Puzzling Blog", you can work backwards easily to get the key, but I won't give it as a spoiler.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:58 AM on August 4, 2006


George Musser wiped the tears from his eyes as he stood before his New God. Constructed of aluminum chair frames, old circuit boards, and an old one horse merry-go-round George 'liberated' from the local K-Mart, the New God was a thing of almost sublime beauty.

Checking the control panel for what felt like the sixteenth time, he wondered if he should call Brenda and the kids down to his basement workshop to let them marvel at the salvation of mankind. He'd worked so hard for the past three months, barely eating or sleeping, shirking his duties at Scientific American to the point where he wondered if he even still had a job there. He knew Brenda was unhappy and that the kids sensed the growing rift between father and mother.

George looked at the New God again, gently stroking the fiberglass horse's head that helped to support the secondary antenna array. He'd call them down. The New God would fix everything. He and Brenda would be closer than they had in years. The world, and their marriage, would be like new again.

The bright light streaming in the kitchen windows made George adjust his baseball cap. Weeks in the dark left his eyes squinty in the light, his work having given him an almost constant headache. Brenda was washing dishes. From the way she stared out the window as she rubbed a sponge across a peanut-butter smeared plate, the kids must be outside.

That's okay, thought George, she will see It first. It will be like old times again. "Brenda," he croaked, vocal cords not used to volumes above a mutter, "Brenda. Honey. It's done."

"I know, George," she said. Was that a sob she choked back? Was she as happy as he?

"Come see."

"I... I called a lawyer, George. Like you said. It's over. Finished."

"Finished? It's just become! Please, Brenda! Come!" He reached out for her but she pulled away, turning to face him. For a moment she looked like what the Virgin Mary must have looked like at the death of her only Son - tears streaming down her perfect cheeks, a halo of light behind her.

"I can't, George. I can't. We've been so distant for years and these last few months..."

George understood. But could he make her understand? "I know. I know. We have not been able to.. to communicate," he said, unaware that the tempo of his speech was picking up, "But I think. I think I fixed it now."

Slowly, Brenda's shoulders sank. She left the sponge next to the sink as wrung out as she felt. She followed her husband downstairs, down into the basement that had been his sole domain for weeks.

"I built it for us," George said as he revealed the New God to his wife. "I know we've been.. off for years now. So much that we wanted - that I wanted - to say. But couldn't. Now, we can!"

"But.. what.." Her eyes showed confusion. Her lips trembled.

"Hush. Just watch." George pulled off his tattered baseball cap and winced when he heard Brenda gasp. She had seen the jack, the portal to the Perfect World through which the New God would help him, help us all. He ignored it, plugging the long red cable into the golden slot above his right ear.

With a trembling finger, George Musser flipped the switch.

The machine throbbed into life, the sound of a hundred Tandys lurching, a thousand disks spinning, angels singing, worlds changing. There was pain, shooting through George's head. He heard Brenda scream.

And in that scream he knew everything about her. Her hopes. Her fears. Her needs. He knew just what to say to her, how to make her happy, how to help her.

He knew how to communicate again.

"See honey! It worked!" George shouted gleefully, powering down the machine before removing the wire from his head.

"Gbalf," said Brenda.

"No, I'm fine, I-" Wait. He knew that she asked him if he was hurt. But that's not what she said was it?

"Bhrqm. Nummt. Lxoid." Brenda spoke, but George couldn't understand the words. Thanks to the New God, he knew what she was saying, but... the words. He tried to tell her it was okay, tried to explain, but by the look on her face, he knew she didn't understand him.

Ashen faced, Brenda fled the basement. George could hear her sobbing as he slumped down at his computer. He could understand anything. Anything except the words. He tapped his keyboard, his computer monitor flickering into life.

His hands didn't shake as he wrote his suicide note. Why should they? It wasn't like anyone would ever know. He uploaded his message, let out a final sob, then climbed the old stool that stood beneath the support beam. The smell of leather from the belt that Brenda gave him last Christmas afforded George Musser one final smile.

"Rqzyk Wtacu Lkugc Aaxjx Owkyu Dkoxk Zamdg Bnuio Nmrxk Zmqyf Nqeog Ziqxf Gutxe Nkmxd Gzmqj Brqge Kxkfs Qqzui Nactg Djfnq Eenaa Xjnk"

I love you, Brenda Musser. I love our children, Jake and Sally. I tried to do this all for you, but I failed. Please forgive me. Please. Please tell them.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:59 AM on August 4, 2006 [195 favorites]


Robocop, you have created a thing of beauty.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 11:04 AM on August 4, 2006


Wow. /stunned
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 AM on August 4, 2006


quit your day job, robocop is bleeding, and start writing.
posted by boo_radley at 11:10 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I... I....


Good lord, how does that rattle around in your head, Robocop..


... a thing of beauty... ditto...
posted by hatsix at 11:12 AM on August 4, 2006


I posted on the MeTa thread that I had cracked this.

The title is "A Puzzling Blog", you can work backwards easily to get the key, but I won't give it as a spoiler.


Good job! You should post a comment to the SciAm blog, because it doesn't look like they've got it yet.
posted by justkevin at 11:14 AM on August 4, 2006


Give robocop $30
posted by adamvasco at 11:17 AM on August 4, 2006


This message contains the key. It has been twice-encrypted using ROT13 for your protection. The answer is 42.
posted by nlindstrom at 11:18 AM on August 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I felt like George when I first went to post and found the thread deleted. Glad it came back!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:26 AM on August 4, 2006


MeFi: smarter than SciAm.
posted by stbalbach at 11:45 AM on August 4, 2006


Cute story. $30 bucks worth? yea... :o)
posted by pezdacanuck at 11:48 AM on August 4, 2006


Incredible comment, Robocop... just incredible. So much better than whatever the entry actually says.
posted by jonson at 11:52 AM on August 4, 2006


Yes, please to also make the sidebar. This is best of internets, robo.
posted by disillusioned at 12:14 PM on August 4, 2006


Comment from George Musser:

Comment from: George Musser [Member]
EAAMR XGDKM CQYAS QCQRX JATQ
August 4, 2006 @ 15:22
posted by vacapinta at 12:24 PM on August 4, 2006


i just like saying QCQRX.

QCQRX QCQRX QCQRX.
posted by quonsar at 12:38 PM on August 4, 2006


Quonsar Cum Quonsaris Rex.

Anyone think it will make this list?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:40 PM on August 4, 2006


...just when you thought quonsar couldn't make less sense...
posted by oaf at 12:43 PM on August 4, 2006


For those looking to read a bit on the cipher, check out this article over at Wikipedia (before Colbert changes it to a treatise on elephants).
posted by ruthsarian at 1:11 PM on August 4, 2006


Rlj ysgv dm eut eyjxagy: bsh fij dw myv ezuyw, pgiogu ksdmenoiku awedg. Jzmqtvaqyj rmwg qtml qe hvwtzv. Cwzb er ngcza nr hvj imibpigef iydgcddw, agym luz azmhl ypbs ojxd jj pgpzo ozxezvl: zftzscsyz, dtr, qwnnzc, gdxkwcqlq, umakik, evknbs, gpmzbz, Eiydyy, udqfa, ht Bdzhl (is j hvtwrrio wc n, jhp!) aopw, eci hpsg zqz ppoxxt dwcgn ecz rxkappu olp amkua xpunsy nmgibtlu jv eci bpkmqlimez ekvpkwh. Olp Xlbplap smsgdrvg vn Ilintvrz kz mekimnvpea kqghmwp, xsgupaelik za Yriocc, Nvdlfl, Dayojc, Oeudo, Nbimv dih Spm iqwcwdomziw, tu dmwo vw rmspkuo yxhfpmw hh Oiy Fcmyzwx. Uoiwo ri qdrbuo etwc ey drtrwzzsmmloi jwvbp? "R wvlqi ggd ezugh ecem jha dxxl azsinl qy'w."
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:14 PM on August 4, 2006


My last post is a new puzzle. Find the key and win a prize. Actually, no, you don't win a prize, that was a lie.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:18 PM on August 4, 2006


ED: the initials for your key would be "VC" would it not?
posted by ruthsarian at 1:37 PM on August 4, 2006


So this is back now? It got zapped before I could draw a bead on it and now I forgot what oos assa ipsos blendasa.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:42 PM on August 4, 2006


Nice work Ruthsarian.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2006


I'm curious to know how you solved it. Can you post your solution on the MeTa thread?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 2:21 PM on August 4, 2006


Great short story Robocop.
posted by alteredcarbon at 2:57 PM on August 4, 2006


Nqeog robocop Ziqxf rules Gutxe give Nkmxd him Gzmqj the Brqge $30 Kxkfs please Qqzui.
posted by biscotti at 3:31 PM on August 4, 2006


BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE?!
posted by shmegegge at 4:09 PM on August 4, 2006


Another vote for giving robocop the $30 today. :)

Maybe we need a periodic microfiction contest...
posted by bim at 4:36 PM on August 4, 2006


This $30 thing is crap. It's a comment in almost every single thread.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:18 PM on August 4, 2006


This $30 thing is crap. It's a comment in almost every single thread.

One vote against ever giving mrgrimm the $30.

Are you happy now? :>
posted by bim at 5:39 PM on August 4, 2006


I bet Brenda's hot.
posted by johnny7 at 7:23 PM on August 4, 2006


Sorry but as a new MeFite I'm a bit confused by robocop's outburst of "microfiction."

Is spontaneity manifested in short story form common around these parts? < /confused>
posted by jckll at 5:28 PM on August 6, 2006


cklennon:
nope.


But it is verily appreciated.
posted by hatsix at 1:29 AM on August 7, 2006


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