Who doesn't love puzzles? I do, especially clever ones that depart from the normal convention.
Meet Tengri 137. Tengri 137 is a group that, similar to Cicada 3301 (but with a completely different purpose), published a series of puzzles and
riddles to try and solve as a "test" of one's merit to be "chosen" as a messenger by supremely intelligent beings not from Earth. At first, I was
taken back by the charm and what seemed almost like magic with numbers. I won't get into the entire breakdown of the whole puzzle, I'm going to
focus on the steps involved in encrypting pretty much anything using simple tools and math. In the current day, with privacy being such an issue,
these may end up being very valuable to those who want to hide information in plain sight, in a way that AI and other types of spying can't detect.
The book, was initially published with the first half, and was encoded in runes from the Anglo Saxon runic alphabet. Decoding this was a simple
process for most, so it went rather quickly. That was part of the plan, was to make people go "wow, this is in an ancient language!" and when
decrypted, talks about these beings that seek to enlighten us with their knowledge and choose select people to be entrusted with this knowledge. Quite
a reward! However, the tone and language of the text was arrogant and poor grammar. They "demonstrate" their abilities using some of this complex
math along with Magic Squares and Magic Cubes, overlaid on top of some geometric symbols that are familiar to most people. Oooh, this is getting good!
These magic cubes and their numbers were linked directly to Bible scripture, with direct references to the numbers in the scripture. (666, 3:14
Exodus, 3:15 Exodus, etc.) This is when I started scratching my head and got me wondering...
Fast forward a bit, and some audio files with embedded alphabets and messages in them were posted on Twitter and fairly quickly decrypted. There was
some clever hiding of the alphabet used to decrypt the next message but nothing super human by any stretch, and no different than anything Cicada had
done up to that point. This is where things got interesting...
The second half of the book was published, but it was all lengthy math formulas. In order to decrypt it, you had to do the math to get a series of
numbers. When those numbers (very long decimal values) were written out and broken into specific numbered places (46 decimals), the numbers
represented encoded words. Those words were encrypted using the letters from the periodic table of elements to represent the respective numbers. These
words made up the second half of the book.
The translation spoke of ancient beings, that there is no God, that there is a finite universe, that our religions and faiths are bad for us, and our
thoughts are not our own... and made it sound as though these were aliens making first contact. Of course, this created quite the stir, and my
skepticism quickly kicked in and drew me in to working through this puzzle to see just how "advanced" these beings were. If I could reverse engineer
the puzzle, it would make it highly unlikely that it's an advanced intelligence. The statements made and the claims just didn't add up to what would
be expected from such an advanced intelligence. So I began by starting at the final message and working backward, which is what I am going to explain
now. It's like peeling away an onion, but we're starting with the middle of the onion.
Let's start with a phrase that is encrypted and a number that I want to see as the outcome. I'll use one I made up, and then will show you how the
Tengri puzzle did the same with their problems. This is to illustrate how you start with a desired number and work backward to encrypting
Let's start with the message. "~~IT~IS~JUST~MATH~~"
. We are going to encode it in binary. That's going to look like the following:
"01111110 01111110 01001001 01010100 01111110 01001001 01010011 01111110 01001010 01010101 01010011 01010100 01111110 01001101 01000001 01010100
01001000 01111110 01111110"
We will remove the spaces and the result will be a long string of 1 or 0.
Next, let's "encrypt" this by obfuscation, or "hiding" it. We do this by changing each 1 into a consonant
and each 0 into a
You can pick any consonant or vowel you want, but for the sake of the next example, we are going to exclude the letters "J, Q and X" and I'll
explain why in a moment.
The resulting string looks something like this:
A Z P L Z G G E
E D B B R H N O
The Tengri puzzle used this (they put 14 characters on a line to confuse things and further obfuscate the binary):
U T M A F E R T U M U R U B
A F M U G E R T U S E R U N
Ok, so now we have letters / alphabet and we have partially encrypted our message. Next, we are going to add the next layer of encryption using the
periodic table of elements!
So in the above example that I created, we will derive numbers for each of the letters. I won't go through the entire thing, but will do a single
line to show you. We will find elements that have an A as the first letter, not being concerned with the second, and I'll explain why. I'll put the
number for the atomic weight in, since that is what we are using.
A = Ar (18)
Z = Zr (40)
P = P (15)
L = Li (3)
Z = Zr (40)
G = Ga (31)
G = Ga (31)
E = Eu (63)
Now we combine the numbers and letters which will equal these two values:
ARZRPLIZRGAGAEU = 184015340313163
This is how the last page of the Tengri was encoded. So far, we have taken a text string, encrypted it using a variation of binary. Then we encrypted
a single letter of it using the period table of elements as the cipher. If you took the above number, and looked up the numbers on the periodic table,
you would get the letter equivalent. Drop the second letter of each one, and you have the series of consonants and vowels that make the binary 1 and 0
that our original message was encoded in. When you have enough context and characters, the patterns emerge and that is how this was able to be reverse
engineered. This is one way the Tengri puzzle tries to use clever tricks as deception. Now I'll show you the math that arrives at the single line
So we have this number - 184015340313163 - it's pretty big. 184 trillion. To make it seem more complex than it is (the math is harder when it's a
decimal), let's make it a decimal. This is important for the math to work out. The zeroes, no matter how many you put in front, would get ignored
when we decrypt the number anyway. So let's change it to:
Let's pop this bad boy into our handy dandy calculator tool (unless you feel like doing it by hand)
- and put that number in. This will give us the following
This is VERY important. So we now have a fraction that represents the number we want to see as the outcome.
Now let's make the math as complex as we can.
Let's start by factoring the first number with out handy factoring site HERE
184015340313163 = 337 * 479 * 1139957381
Now the second:
99999999999999999 = 3^2 * 2071723 * 5363222357
These are the same as the formulas used in Tengri.