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Feb 1, 2011 (Vol. 31, No. 3)

Engineer Solves His Second GEN Contest

• Online Anagram Solver

Ultimately, Owen used an online anagram solver. It gave him hundreds of words, but he iterated through them until he found the answer. Owen’s actual strategy for solving the challenge follows.

He drew lines between AT and GC bases to find midpoint cells. He gave those cells a cycle number and a log-plotted number. The log numbers ran as 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,20,30,40,50,60,70,80,90,100.

“That took a long time to figure out. I feel stupid for overcomplicating it,” Owen says. “I was using y=0.1*10^(N/9) for a long time.”

He then multiplied the cycle number and log number together and plotted them, noticing they had 26 discrete values. He divided the products by 50, because that gave him the numbers 1–26.

“Realizing quickly that a straight 1=A didn’t work, I stewed until I got MULLIS=50. I tried every one (of 26) possibilities of simple mapping, which I thought was too simple, until I got MULLIS=50.”

Owen then found a jumble of letters that “didn’t make any sense,” and subsequently reversed the alphabet and tried again. He came up with LKIIGGECAWUUTSQOONNNN.

Owen later went online, Googled for an “online anagram solver,” typed in the sequence, and received many results. He finally figured out that the answer was “counting equals knowing.”

Owen remarked that the enthusiasm at his company regarding those who saw or took on the cryptogram challenge was “remarkable.” He was pleasantly surprised when it was pointed out to him that a number of cryptogram challenge winners, such as himself, decided to donate the cash prize and/or the scientific instrument prize to a laboratory, hospital, or research facility.

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