Notes in the lunch box
My significant other is an astrophysicist
(what a word), rather forgetful, a little nerdy
in a charming way (or is that geeky
? I can never remember which is what). He has his head in the clouds
and his feet firmly planted in thin air, which can be quite... well, let's say it tends to make life less predictable.
Of course, something as relatively simple and cute as a note, left by one partner for the other to find (in a lunch box, or just by the computer) will never be simple with a man like this one. Cute, oh yes, but never simple.
"21 . 219 | 5 | 181 . 5 . 1 . 53 |..."* and so on. A good thirty sets of numbers on a piece of paper, left by my SO on my keyboard some time ago. And no help, whatsoever. When I tried to ask him for a hint, he just smiled a big and triumphant smile. Blast. So I got to work.
I don't know a lot about codes and cyphers, but what little I knew I tried to apply to this note. That didn't help. The way the numbers were grouped made me think that they might represent one word each. Substituting the numbers for letters did absolutely nothing to help. Some groups appeared more than once, though, so there was definitely a pattern to it. What was so odd was that if the groups represented words, he had written a note with three letter words only**, since none of the numbers contained more than three digits. I slaved over this note for the rest of that day, and when I lay in bed, ready to drift off to sleep, it somehow came to me: binary numbers.
'Binary?' I said out loud, and the grumbling answer in the dark sounded pretty much like 'yes'.
So the next day I wrote all the numbers as binary numbers. And then I sat looking at them. For very a long time. A very, very long time.
"Doesn't it remind you of something?" my SO asked. "Well... morse code", said I. And he grinned some more. So it was morse code. But the problem was still how to translate from binary to morse. 1 could be 'dash', of course, and 0 could be 'dot'. But, after all, you don't get a binary number to begin with a '0' (that is: on the leftmost place), and a lot of the letters, when written in morse code, begins with a dot. And anyhow, some of the sequences were far too long to be morse code letters. Another day passed and I was still stuck. He was just grinning, the bastard.
Well, then we both forgot about the note, by and by. Until rootbeer277's wu on binary code reminded me. So I walked up to my SO and grabbed him by the collar (well, I would have grabbed him by the collar, but he's almost 6' 4'' (I'm 5' 3'') so I grabbed him sort of midriff), and demanded to know how the blast that note should have been translated. And finally he relented.
The '0's were separators and not really part of the morse code. 1 was a 'dot', and 11 would be 'dash'. So, eg., 'r' (.-.) would become 101101. 'F' (..-.) would become 10101101. 45 and 173 respectively.
Since I never found the note again, and he can't really remember what he wrote, I choose to believe it was something very sweet and cute. Would be rather out of character for him, though; more likely it was a quote from some deep book or another (he seems to recall it being something like that), but I think I'll just disregard and keep my own interpretation.
* These are just random numbers. They don't mean anything at all. I promise.
** That is to say: no word had more than three letters...