'The Root': Can you solve our cipher?

Watch 'The Root: The Birth of Big Brother' and all of 'The Root' episodes HERE

Catch up on the research from segment 1 HERE

Segment 2: William Friedman; Edgar Allan Poe; Solve the Cipher

Friedman

In this segment, Glenn explained how Yardley’s operation was shut down – but the practice of domestic spying wasn’t. By 1929 surveillance, coding and decoding messages were established as a crucial skill to have, maintain, and advance. So, Secretary of State Stimson may have put an end to Yardley’s operation, but Yardley’s files were not destroyed. Instead, they were sent to the desk of one of the most brilliant minds in cryptology – William Friedman.

 

Edgar Allan Poe

Friedman was a pioneer in the field, and as you’ll see in the next segment, inspired the creation of the only known cipher machine to never be cracked. But how Friedman got his start in the field is an incredible tale all its own. Friedman was a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, and Poe was a big fan of ciphers. In fact, he once bragged that he could decipher anything. Friedman loved deciphering messages, and one of his favorite Poe stories was ‘The Gold Bug’.

The code in Poe’s ‘Gold Bug’ is an example of a substitution cipher, which is a cipher where the letters of the alphabet are replaced by other letters or symbols. Calculating all possible combinations of 26 letters of the alphabet and 26 symbols the possible results are in the trillions. For hundreds of years, substitution ciphers were considered impossible to crack.

The secret to solving substitution ciphers is by analyzing syntax. Languages follow a set of rules. There’s only so many ways you can combine letters so that they form intelligible words. Even though the cipher uses symbols it still has to follow those rules. Pretty soon by looking for these rules we can start to see patterns within the message. All that’s needed is a key.

The foundation for all codebreaking is letter frequency analysis. As Poe's Legrand pointed out in the story, in English the most commonly used letter is the letter E. Locating the most frequently used vowels and consonants is the key to letter frequency analysis. Legrand argued that the letters of the alphabet ordered from most frequent to less frequent looked like this:

e a o i d h n r s t u y c f g l m w b k p q x z

Read the entire Edgar Allan Poe’s the Gold Bug – it’s a great story.

Here’s the section that contains the cipher and the explanation on how to decrypt it (this is the portion Glenn animated on the program):

Here Legrand submitted the parchment to my inspection. The following characters were rudely traced between the death's-head and the goat:

 

53‡‡†305))6*;4826)4‡.)4‡);806*;48†8 ¶60))85;1‡(;:‡*8†83(88)5*†;46(;88*96

*?;8)*‡(;485);5*†2:*‡(;4956*2(5*—4)8 ¶8*;4069285);)6†8)4‡‡;1(‡9;48081;8:8‡

1;48†85;4)485†528806*81(‡9;48;(88;4 (‡?34;48)4‡;161;:188;‡?;

"But," said I, returning him the slip, "I am as much in the dark as ever. Were all the jewels of Golconda awaiting me upon my solution of this enigma, I am quite sure that I should be unable to earn them."

"And yet," said Legrand, "the solution is by no means so difficult as you might be led to imagine from the first hasty inspection of the characters. These characters, as any one might readily guess, form a cipher — that is to say, they convey a meaning; but then, from what is known of Kidd, I could not suppose him capable of constructing any of the more abstruse cryptographs. I made up my mind, at once, that this was of a simple species — such, however, as would appear, to the crude intellect of the sailor, absolutely insoluble without the key."

"And you really solved it?"

"Readily; I have solved others of an abstruseness ten thousand times greater. Circumstances, and a certain bias of mind, have led me to take interest in such riddles, and it may well be doubted whether human ingenuity can construct an enigma of the kind which human ingenuity may not, by proper application, resolve. In fact, having once established connected and legible characters, I scarcely gave a thought to the mere difficulty of developing their import.

"In the present case — indeed in all cases of secret writing — the first question regards the language of the cipher; for the principles of solution, so far, especially, as the more simple ciphers are concerned, depend upon, and are varied by, the genius of the particular idiom. In general, there is no alternative but experiment (directed by probabilities) of every tongue known to him who attempts the solution, until the true one is attained. But, with the cipher now before us, all difficulty was removed by the signature. The pun upon the word 'Kidd' is appreciable in no other language than the English. But for this consideration I should have begun my attempts with the Spanish and French, as the tongues in which a secret of this kind would most naturally have been written by a pirate of the Spanish main. As it was, I assumed the cryptograph to be English.

"You observe there are no divisions between the words. Had there been divisions, the task would have been comparatively easy. In such case I should have commenced with a collation and analysis of the shorter words, and, had a word of a single letter occurred, as is most likely, (a or I, for example,) I should have considered this solution as assured. But, there being no division, my first step was to ascertain the predominant letters, as well as the least frequent. Counting all, I constructed a table, thus:

Of the character 8 there are 33.

; " 26.

4 " 19.

‡ ) " 16.

* " 13.

5 " 12.

6 " 11.

†1 " 8.

0 " 6.

9 2 " 5.

: 3 " 4.

? " 3.

¶ " 2. —. " 1.

"Now, in English, the letter which most frequently occurs is e. Afterwards, the succession runs thus: a o i d h n r s t u y c f g l m w b k p q x z. E predominates so remarkably that an individual sentence of any length is rarely seen, in which it is not the prevailing character.

"Here, then, we have, in the very beginning, the groundwork for something more than a mere guess. The general use which may be made of the table is obvious — but, in this particular cipher, we shall only very partially require its aid. As our predominant character is 8, we will commence by assuming it as the e of the natural alphabet. To verify the supposition, let us observe if the 8 be seen often in couples — for e is doubled with great frequency in English — in such words, for example, as 'meet,' 'fleet,' 'speed,' 'seen,' 'been,' 'agree,' &c. In the present instance we see it doubled no less than five times, although the cryptograph is brief.

"Let us assume 8, then, as e. Now, of all words in the language, 'the' is most usual; let us see, therefore, whether there are not repetitions of any three characters, in the same order of collocation, the last of them being 8. If we discover repetitions of such letters, so arranged, they will most probably represent the word 'the.' Upon inspection, we find no less than seven such arrangements, the characters being ;48. We may, therefore, assume that ; represents t, 4 represents h, and 8 represents e — the last being now well confirmed. Thus a great step has been taken.

"But, having established a single word, we are enabled to establish a vastly important point; that is to say, several commencements and terminations of other words. Let us refer, for example, to the last instance, but one, in which the combination ;48 occurs — not far from the end of the cipher. We know that the ; immediately ensuing is the commencement of a word, and, of the six characters succeeding this 'the,' we are cognizant of no less than five. Let us set these characters down, thus, by the letters we know them to represent, leaving a space for the one unknown —

t eeth.

"Here we are enabled, at once, to discard the 'th' as forming no portion of the word commencing with the first t; since, by experiment of the entire alphabet for a letter adapted to the vacancy, we perceive that no word can be formed of which this th can be a part. We are thus narrowed into 

 

t ee,

and, going through the alphabet, if necessary, as before, we arrive at the word 'tree,' as the sole possible reading. We thus gain another letter, r, represented by (, with the words 'the tree' in juxtaposition.

; "Looking beyond these words, for a short distance, we again see the combination ;48, and employ it by way of termination to what immediately precedes. We have thus this arrangement:

the tree ;4(‡?34 the,

or, substituting the natural letters, where known, it reads thus:

the tree thr‡?3h the.

 

"Now, if, in place of the unknown characters, we leave blank spaces, or substitute dots, we read thus:

the tree thr...h the,

when the word 'through' makes itself evident at once. But this discovery gives us three new letters, o, u and g, represented by ‡ ? and 3.

 

"Looking, now, narrowly, through the cipher for combinations of known characters, we find, not very far from the beginning, this arrangement,

83(88, or egree,

 

which, plainly, is the conclusion of the word 'degree,' and gives us another letter, d, represented by †.

 

; "Four letters beyond the word 'degree,' we perceive the combination

 

­­;46(;88*.

; "Translating the known characters, and representing the unknown by dots, as before, we read thus:

 

th.rtee.

 

an arrangement immediately suggestive of the word 'thirteen,' and again furnishing us with two new characters, i and n, represented by 6 and *.

 

; "Referring, now, to the beginning of the cryptograph, we find the combination,

53‡‡†.

"Translating, as before, we obtain

. good,

which assures us that the first letter is A, and that the first two words are 'A good.'

"To avoid confusion, it is now time that we arrange our key, as far as discovered, in a tabular form. It will stand thus:

5 represents a

† " d

8 " e

3 " g

4 " h

6 " i

* " n

‡ " o

( " r

; " t

"We have, therefore, no less than ten of the most important letters represented, and it will be unnecessary to proceed with the details of the solution. I have said enough to convince you that ciphers of this nature are readily soluble, and to give you some insight into the rationale of their development. But be assured that the specimen before us appertains to the very simplest species of cryptograph. It now only remains to give you the full translation of the characters upon the parchment, as unriddled. Here it is:

'A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north main branch seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death's-head a bee line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out.' "

And that’s how you solve a cipher. Easy, right? We thought we’d give you a little challenge, to see how you stack up against the brilliant cipher minds of history. Using the Gold Bug cipher can you decrypt our code?

 

 

Solve the Cipher

 

1(68†95* ]5) 6*).6(8† 2: 8†35( 5005* .‡8 5*† 28-598 5 95);8( -(:.;5*50:); ;48 38(95* 8*6395 95-46*8 ]5) †8-6.48(8† 2?; 1(68†95*) *8¶8( ]5) 6; ]5) -5008† )63525 ;‡ ;46) †5: *‡ ‡*8 8¶8( )?--8))1?00: †8-(:.;8† ;48 598(6-5* )63525 95-46*8

 

Write out the cipher on a piece of paper leaving enough space in between each line. You’ll need the space to write your solutions underneath. (example below)

1(68†95* ]5) 6*).6(8† 2: 8†35( 5005* .‡8 5*† 28-598 5 95);8( -(:.;5*50:); ;48 38(95* 8*6395

95-46*8 ]5) †8-6.48(8† 2?; 1(68†95*) *8¶8( ]5) 6; ]5) -5008† )63525 ;‡ ;46) †5: *‡ ‡*8 8¶8(

 

)?--8))1?00: †8-(:.;8† ;48 598(6-5* )63525 95-46*8

 

Count out the times each symbol/number is used in the cipher and write the results on a table ordered most to least frequently used. You’ll start to see that one of the symbols/numbers clearly stands out from the rest. This is your first and biggest clue and is most likely the most commonly used letter in the English language...E. Write in that letter next to each symbol in the cipher. (example below)

 

character 8 = 10 times

character ; = 5 times

character 4 = 2 times

 

Now we have, as Legrand said, “the groundwork” for more. Look for recurring combinations of symbols to try and guess words. Legrand identified the word THE as the most commonly used word. After that the most frequently used words in order are: OF, AND, TO, IN. Once you’ve spotted all the THE’s then you’ve discovered 2 more letters. Write them down on your table accordingly. Each new letter you decipher leads to more fragments of the message you’ll uncover. Eventually you’ll get the entire message decoded.

 

As technology progressed machines and advanced mathematics made these ciphers more and more complex. Amazingly the same principles that Poe’s Legrand used to break the Gold Bug cipher still apply today.

Good luck! If you successfully solve it, email the answer to goldbug@theblaze.com and the first responders will get a message from Glenn!

Note: This article originally said to send answers to goldbug@glennbeck.com. Please re-send to goldbug@theblaze.com

Conservatives are between a rock and a hard place with Section 230 and Big Tech censorship. We don't want more government regulation, but have we moved beyond the ability of Section 230 reforms to rein in Big Tech's rising power?

Rachel Bovard, Conservative Partnership Institute's senior director of policy, joined the Glenn Beck radio program to give her thoughts and propose a possibly bipartisan alternative: enforcing our existing antitrust laws.

Watch the video below:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Dan Bongino, host of The Dan Bongino Show, is an investor in Parler — the social media platform that actually believes in free speech. Parler was attacked by Big Tech — namely Amazon, Apple, and Google — earlier this week, but Bongino says the company isn't giving up without a fight. In fact, he says, he's willing to go bankrupt over this one.

Dan joined Glenn Beck on the radio program to detail what he calls a "smear" campaign behind the scenes, and how he believes we can move forward from Big Tech's control.

"You have no idea how bad this was behind the scenes," Dan told Glenn. "I know you're probably thinking ... well, how much worse can the attack on Parler have gotten than three trillion-dollar companies — Amazon, Apple, and Google — all seemingly coordinated to remove your business from the face of the Earth? Well, behind the scenes, it's even worse. I mean, there are smear campaigns, pressure campaigns ... lawyers, bankers, everyone, to get this company ... wiped from the face of the earth. It's incredible."

Dan emphasized that he would not give up without a fight, because what's he's really fighting for is the right to free speech for all Americans, regardless of their political opinions, without fear of being banned, blacklisted, or losing jobs and businesses.

"I will go bankrupt. I will go absolutely destitute before I let this go," he said. "I have had some very scary moments in my life and they put horse blinders on me. I know what matters now. It's not money. It's not houses. It's none of that crap. It's this: the ability to exist in a free country, where you can express your ideas freely."

Watch the video below to hear more from Dan:

Want more from Glenn Beck?

To enjoy more of Glenn's masterful storytelling, thought-provoking analysis and uncanny ability to make sense of the chaos, subscribe to BlazeTV — the largest multi-platform network of voices who love America, defend the Constitution and live the American dream.

Joe Biden's administration is getting ready for something historic, but we're all being distracted. And now that Biden has hired at least 14 former or current executives from Big Tech — experts at colluding to censor unflattering news about Biden — Americans must be laser-focused on what's coming.

On January 20, the most corrupt president in American history will be inaugurated, and it looks like some of his cabinet choices were picked specifically so everything just – poof – goes away. The administration nominees appear to be all about preserving corruption, crony capitalism, and executing a Great Reset. Those same people also have one more thing in common: Ukraine.

On his Wednesday night special this week, Glenn exposes their radical agenda in their own words and gives U.S. senators the questions they must ask before confirming corrupt nominees to some of the highest offices in the country.


Freedom of speech is important. Here at BlazeTV, we work hard to bring you the truth from the most pro-America network in the country, free from Big Tech censors. Support free speech by supporting BlazeTV. Get our largest discount ever: $30 off a one-year subscription with code GLENN. Show your support and join us today!

I want to talk to you about something that probably didn't make a lot of sense a long time ago. In fact, I can't tell you how many program directors and how many stations threatened to cancel. Or how many calls I got from the average listener saying; What the hell are you even talking about when I talked about, the leadership of Martin Luther King.

I have done everything I can — as much as I possibly can — to teach you about Martin Luther King and nonviolent protests. And I don't think there's anybody in the media who has talked about nonviolence longer and more in-depth on commercial airwaves than me. Preachers, certainly. But commercial airwaves — I don't think anybody has.

Now I think many are beginning to understand why I tried to lay that foundation. I have told you since September 11th that I have this feeling you are going to be the group of people that will, in the end, save the republic.

I've always believed that. I don't know how it's saved. It might just be preserved in our hearts, I don't know. But I believe it now.

I never wanted us to get to this point — everything I've done is to prevent us from getting here. But everybody is so politically tied to their side that no one will let their shields down and actually listen to one another.

And we're at that desperate point now.

You are equipped to save the republic because you at least hopefully have a fundamental understanding of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And you have at least a basic understanding of American history. More importantly, what makes this audience so phenomenal is that it is the most generous and service-minded audience of any show in America and perhaps the world.

That's part of what continues to be so frustrating about the Capitol invasion last week. Because you're being maligned.

You.

I know who you are. This is the most peaceful, generous, loving, God-fearing, authentic and patriotic audience in America. And you are frustrated and you are tired of being hit in the face and being called bigot and everything else no matter what you do.

I've been called an anti-Semite just in the last 24 hours by everybody, unjustly.

I get it.

You are now being tainted by the actions of complete imbeciles who do not represent you and me. It's not fair. But that's the hand that we're being dealt and God is in charge and He is not surprised.

We know the left's current tactics fail in the long run. Silencing. Canceling. Taking away rights.

We know the left's current tactics fail in the long run. Silencing. Canceling. Taking away rights. These are the hallmarks of regime, after regime, after Marxist regime on the ash heaps of history. Now China is still there because they've taken the so-called free market and took the capitalist system and they combined it with their Marxist utopia.

I don't know what's going to happen to the people over there. Especially seeing that our high-tech has joined them to weed out the dissidents. But it's not inevitable that we join them.

And it is going to require us to take a stand. Just not in the way that most people — especially if they're angry — think is most effective. Look at the ratings of BLM. 78 percent of Americans, at the beginning of the summer, thought that they were swell.

That number is in the low 20s now. Why? Because violence doesn't work.

I don't know if you saw the fellowship of the ring, but if you did, do you remember when Frodo said: "I don't want to do this!"

He's lamenting having to face down the evil and he's just one guy. I'll never forget it because it was right after 9/11, that the movie came out. I'll never forget Gandalf's reply. He said: "So do we all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what we're going to do with the time that is given us."

We can't decide what others are going to do. We can't control the dangerous Orwellian darkness that seems to be descending on America. All we can control is our response and strive to lead by example. If you know anyone in your sphere of influence who might be planning to attend one of these armed rallies in the coming days, beg them not to go. Do everything you can to stop them.

That's not a way to take a stand and it will not protect anything you hold dear and it will endanger the republic. It is what the other side wants.

So how do we take a stand?

The first thing I need you to do today is to help lower the temperature. It has been so hard for me not to respond to people on Twitter who have called me every name under the sun because I quoted the leading Holocaust historian last night on Tucker Carlson.

But see, that wasn't an attack on me, that was an attack on Tucker. If you can scare the guests from coming on to Tucker, you destroy Tucker. That's what they're doing.

Do not vent your anger on social media. At this point, it is probably just going to get your account shut down.

I want you to write this down and I want you to keep this in front of you.

Blessed are the peacemakers. For they will be called the children of God.

That means something today, much more than it did six months ago.

Blessed be the peacemakers.

Be a peacemaker.

And this is the hard part, you can't disconnect. Because things are moving too rapidly. You must stay plugged in.

But I want you to reach out to someone in kindness on social media. Encourage someone. Do not engage with the darkness. Be the light in the corner of your world.

You need to be a leader for what is to come.

And I know I'm asking you almost the impossible. I know you're angry and frustrated and it is gut-wrenching to feel that you're powerless to stop your nation from what you believe is sliding into the abyss.

You are not powerless. You are not voiceless.

I believe it too, with everything in me. I wish I was wrong. I hope that I am. I pray that I am. But know this: You are not powerless. You are not voiceless. You may be the only voice that anyone hears. Voices like mine will go away. I am trying to think of what I need to share with you before, God forbid, that ever happens. Because I cannot live with myself if I talked about something stupid politically and I find my voice silenced and then saying, I wish I would have said this or I wish I would have told them that.

You wield more power than you know. Not because of your voice or being able to call your congressman. You're more powerful than you know because you understand the real problem in America. The real problem in America is not political.

It is spiritual.

If you're like me when you get angry, you think that you are going to take on this challenge on your own — you are not being humble. You think you'll fix it. Everything that is happening to us is because we are an arrogant, out of control people.

We must humble ourselves. Please, you have the skill and the strength to endure the fiery darts that are going to come your way or already are. But this is a problem with our hearts.

You cannot reach someone's head without capturing their heart and no one is going to capture anyone's heart through violence.

Start in your own home and then reach out and if you're able, serve your neighbor. If you can, serve your local community. You must be a beacon of light in a very dark place. I'm going to ask you to do something you're really not going to like. And that's how I know things are from God. When I hear something or I think something and I'm like — oh crap, I don't want to do that — and you just know it it's right. You just know it's what God wants. And you're hoping that maybe you didn't hear it.

And it's so horrible. Because it's the last thing you want to do. But God is unlike many of our churches and preachers, He doesn't tell us what we want to hear. He doesn't have to pay for the church or get collection. Or be judged by how many people go.

Rise above the fray, with service and love, with malice toward none and charity toward all.

He'll say the same thing and he'll lose whole flocks. And they'll eventually start to go — oh wait, where is the Shepherd again?

But I have to tell you now some things that I want you to do. And they're not new. But I need you to hear me. I am asking you if you want to stand for the republic, I need you first to pray.

Pray like you've never prayed before. Pray for humility. Pray for guidance. Pray for peace. Pray for those people who you think you hate. Because you don't. Because hatred does not come from any good place.

Then I want you go out and serve someone in any way possible. On inauguration day especially, get your family and your children involved. Volunteer somewhere, take someone a meal. Do something to lift the spirits of hospital workers or your local police department.

Help a stranger mow a lawn, fix someone's car, pick up trash on the side of the highway. Do what you can do. But the most important thing is to do it with a sincere heart. And if someone asks you, why are you doing this? Just say, because I love my country.

Rise above the fray with service and love, with malice toward none and charity toward all.

Watch how the conversation went on radio HERE:

A pre-Inauguration Day plea: You wield MUCH more power than you know youtu.be