Sunday, March 02, 2014


I don't have a lot to say this week.

My son and I like to do things together and I try to throw some quasi educational stuff in there when I can.

We have started solving encrypted substitution ciphers.  Codes have been used to carry messages for centuries.  Julius Caesar used a cipher where the letters would be shifted over by three.  This type of cipher where the alphabet stays in order is actually called a Caesar cipher in his honor.  This cipher looks like this:



There are many types of ways to do a cipher.  My son and I have been decrypting mixed alphabet ciphers which have no set order to how the letters correspond.  It is a fun activity and doesn't take more then an hour unless you have a really tough one to crack.  Your mind has to work in different ways to catch patterns or try word sounds; it really is very challenging and fun.  

Some things to keep in mind when solving a mixed alphabet cipher:

E, T, A, O, I, N, S, H, R, D, L and U are the 12 most common letters in a typical English text.  TH, ER, ON, and AN are the most common pairs of letters and SS, EE, TT, OO, LL and FF are the most common repeats.

If you have a one-letter word you know it is I or a

Two-letter words are most frequently: of, to, in, it, is, be, as, at, so, we, he, by, or, on, do, if, me, my, up, an, go, no, us, am

Three-letter words are most frequently: the, and, for, are, but, not, you, all, any, can, had, her, was, one, our, out, day, get, has, him, his, how, man, new, now, old, see, two, way, who, boy, did, its, let, put, say, she, too, use

Four-letter words are most frequently: that, with, have, this, will, your, from, they, know, want, been, good, much, some, time

If you have a four-letter word that ends in and starts in the same letter it frequently will be that.

Each code takes a different approach but we always look for one or two-letter words to start with.  If you have a one-letter word then you know it will be I or A.  If you have a two-letter word that starts with that same letter then you know it is going to be one of the following: am, an, as, at, in, is, or it.

Explaining a cipher is like trying to describe the taste of chocolate: it will never match up to the real thing due to the complexity.  So here is a cipher for you to try.  There are some elements which should jump out at you leading to the theme.  I always write out the alphabet under the cipher and cross out the letters as I go, it really helps me to see what is left to choose from.  For a bonus after you obtain the key to the cipher below you will be able to decode the title as well.  :)  Have fun and good luck!




And here is my layer of the week.  These colors are so beautiful, I just love them together!

Happy crafting everyone,

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