There’s a new addition to the math-fights-crime TV show NUMB3RS. This season, the folk at Wolfram have created a math puzzle that goes along with each episode of the show.
For example, in Scan Man, the passage
Charlie: I’m not sure an Error Correcting Code is gonna get you there — That is what you’re using, right?
Amita: …And have been for weeks.
inspired the following puzzle:
A spy captures a code key (first block) and two 17-character mathematical messages. Unfortunately, almost nothing seems to match the key. Can you decipher the two messages, and also find the third hidden 17-letter phrase?
The puzzle is here with tabs for a hint (my experience is that the hints are pretty useful for solving the puzzle) and for the quote in the show that inspired the puzzle. There’s also a link to the solution.
If you’re feeling bad because you love the puzzles but you missed one of the inspiring episodes, fear not! You can watch the entire season online! Hooray for online television! (I don’t know how long they’ll be up, so you probably should get watching while you work on those puzzles. Clearly this is more important than doing/grading the homework or working on the project you were about to get to.)
There’s a little more background information (including a correction to one of the solutions) in Tuesday’s post on Wolfram’s blog.