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If it has anything to do with the environment/climate change/geoengineering/natural resources...maybe look into what is used to color glass:


Hi, I'm super interested in Languages and was wondering if you have bigger pictures of the notes where we could see the symbols better ? Scan images maybe ?
I'm french so if it can help with the language barrier.. I also know a bit of japanese, mandarin, german, catalan, american spanish, esperanto and studied ancient greek.

Most languages I learned by myself so they're not fully developped but it helps me notice more words and sentences structures.

Also when I clicked on the link to the blog, it said :

"The page is in Catalan, do you wish to translate"
Is it the same for everybody ?

Thank you


Amelie - I had the same Google notice when I clicked on the page.

Can I ask how exactly these notes are found? Are the books sticking out of the shelf? Or does someone go through every book?


If you look at the Site Map for that blog and go to the earliest entry, look at the About Me. It heads with a list of descriptors that might correspond to each note(?)


Otherwise, try French to translate the code?

Amanda Jacques

Hey! I found your blog through a Reddit sub. I took a looka t the pages and found something interesting. The circle symbol with two half-circles in it (like a Pepsi logo) appears only once on every page, and always toward the end. I'm not sure what to make of it, but there you have it.

m cutlr

Some of the characters resemble Middle Egyptian hieroglyphs - the bird, the eye, the oval (mouth) and the parallel squigglies (water). Those were the ones I recognized - others such as the feather or leaf could be loose interpretations of other glyphs (e.g. the papyrus leaf). This would explain the impossibility of a 1-1 letter match, as glyphs use a combination of alphabet and ideogram (also the rebus principle). Likewise some of the small strokes next to, above, or below each character might, as in glyphs, indicate whether a given character is to be read as full morpheme or merely a letter. This is all, of course, speculation - it's been so long since I've studied this stuff that I'm afraid that I'm not much help, but it's worth looking into everything, right?

m cutlr

Oh, also, if hieroglyphs do have anything at all to do with this, then the text is probably meant to be read from right to left. You always read into the birds' faces...

Stephen Ford

Looks quite a lot like pages from Xu Bing's latest work.



There's something very "art undergrad" about all this.

Cris Litvin

Do all the coloured symbols always appear in sets of 6?


I don't know if this will help but a copy of Maguire's Code of Ciphers was filmed from a copy of the original publication held by the D.B. Weldon Library, University of Western Ontario
and can be read at Archive.org.


Brett Weisberg

Okay, so I've been reviewing the notes for the past hour and here is what I've got:

* So far, all notes with gems have a final amount of characters that is odd. (Box=125, Frame=127, Vase=129, Drinking Glass=131) - They also seem to be in an order.

* Gems always start with the same symbol, and have the same code. The code is a different length depending on what item.

* I haven't noticed any patterns related to color.

* The feathers have a character count that is in range of 128-133, and also start with the same character. However, the feather that's joined with a drinking glass has an extra symbol (5th from the end, a square).

* Whatever item the feather appears with will always be the same, no matter what color. Same goes for the gem except for two instances where the pink gem is with the table and the blue gem is with the drinking glass.

* The leaves have no pattern except for the same character amount and same characters.

* On the notes, the amount of longer rows is either 6 or 7, and the amount of shorter rows is either 5 or 4. (They're always linked: 6 & 5 or 7 & 4)

* The feathers with drinking glasses, per color, have 1 feather on the side and another on the top.

* I have no idea what the dots and marks are for.


They're probably just trying to drive aspiring cryptologists insane. Don't go getting all Indiana Jones about it.


I haven't been following this very long, but if you have the originals, most modern color printers include a yellow dot code. Some of those codes have been decoded. This might help you determine if the same printer was used, what model the printer was, what time it was printed, etc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Printer_steganography


found your blog via boing boing.
i went to that blog you mentioned http://www.swontario.ca/000xyz.blog.ca and it comes up asking me if i want to translate it. either way it is just a blank head and blank body tag for me.
if you right-click in chrome and open developer tools and then go to evenlisteners you will see there is a .js file.
that seems to listen for key up and key down.
i will be looking in to this later.
but back to work for now...


Johannes Trithemius was a famous cryptographer who had many of his works coded in a way that might be relevant here. A quote from an explanation of his method says "The incantations were actually encrypted instructions for concealing a secret message within the cover letters. To read out the secret meaning of either, one selects a special subsequence of the letters, such as every other letter of every other word:
padiel aPoRsY mesarpon oMeUaS peludyn m AlPrEaXo …
that is, primus apex … Books I and II of the Steganographia contain a mind numbing variety of such examples, some combined with simple substitution ciphers, almost all of them explained in the Clavis."

So essentially the notes would be solved differently depending on what the item/picture requires.


A group of us have started working on this, we set up an irc channel on freenode if anyone wants to help.

channel: #dbwstack


Here's what the 18 notes (so far) have included:

5 Vases:
- Dark blue oval jewel (15)
- Dark blue round jewel (10)
- Aquamarine square jewel (with a mark on it) (4)
- Green oval jewel (3)
- Green leaf with 1 white stripe and 2 white dots (18)

5 Glasses
- Orange feather (2)
- Orange feather with white and red markings at the stem and white and red lines (12)
- Pink feather with green markings on the stem (16)
- Pink feather with white and green markings at the base (7)
- Dark blue oval jewel (6)

4 Tables
- Pink feather with white markings on the stem and 2 green lines (11)
- Pink feather with green and white markings on the stem and 2 green dots (8)
- Green feather with 2 white lines and 2 white dots (5)
- Clear round jewel (14)

2 Boxes
- Green feather (17)
- Dark blue oval jewel (13)

1 Frame
- Dark blue round jewel (9)

1 Pillow
- Green leaf with red and aquamarine marks (1)

Put differently, we have:

5 Vases: 4 Jewels, 1 Leaf
5 Glasses: 4 Feathers, 1 Jewel
4 Tables: 3 Feathers, 1 Jewel
2 Boxes: 1 Jewel, 1 Feather
1 Frame: Jewel
1 Pillow: Leaf

So, here's a guess:

(a) You'll find 1 more table, and it will include a feather (probably green, with a white line or dot)

(b) You'll find 3 more boxes, and they'll include 3 jewels.

If so, that would give us 22 total notes:

5 Vases: 4 Jewels, 1 Leaf
5 Boxes: 4 Jewels, 1 Leaf
5 Glasses: 4 Feathers, 1 Jewel
5 Tables: 4 Feathers, 1 Jewel
1 Frame: Jewel
1 Pillow: Leaf

Now, it may be that there are many more frames and pillows to come, or other pictures and objects. We could be looking at 30, or 50, or 100 of these notes before we're through. But making an assumption that we're nearing a complete collection, a pattern is suggesting itself. No idea what it might possibly mean, but anything to latch onto would be helpful at this stage.

A few other notes:

- Another possibility: the final breakdown is actually 5-5-5-2-2-2, in which case we should find 1 more table, 1 more frame and 1 more pillow, for a total of 21. Or maybe the 3 boxes will all come with feathers. Who the hell knows.

- Only the boxes (2) and the frame (1) are on the right-hand side of their pages; all the rest of the pictures are on the left-hand side. Not sure what that might mean, but it's certainly not an accident.

- We have 5 pictures (Glass, Vase, Box, Frame, Pillow) into which things go and 1 thing (Table) onto which things are placed. FWIW.

- I haven't broken down the notes by other categories, but it would probably be illuminating to see a similar chart broken down by objects (feathers/jewels/leaves) and by markings (none/red/white/green/line/dot)

- I don't think we should read anything into the order in which Mike has listed these letters: 4 and 5, for instance, seem to predate his discovery of 1.

- If my supposition above is correct, then we're seeing an emerging pairing of Glass and Table (via Feather) and perhaps Vase with Box (via Jewel). Meaning? No idea -- glasses sit on tables? Vases go in boxes? Beats me.

- I said this at the outset, but I keep coming back to the importance of #1. It's the only one with a pillow, one of only two with a leaf, and along with 4, it's the only one with anything aquamarine. The pillow's connection to the feathers is obvious, if otherwise unclear. Maybe it's only a coincidence that it's the first one Mike found, but it's the one that sticks with me.

John M

I brought this story up with a colleague at McMaster University. She claims to have found one of these letters some time in 2010, while doing graduate work at Western.


Found you via Boing Boing... Very interesting... Has anyone posted over on the Unfiction forums? Could be some sort of ARG (Alternate Reality Game), so they may be most helpful over there. (I did a quick search over there, and there is a thread started - http://forums.unfiction.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=1033638)

Someone else mentioned checking for the printer codes under blue-light. I'd be most interested in the printing date/times, as the order of printing could, potentially, be part of the clue.

As for the blog, I checked the Wayback Machine at archive.org, and it looks like it's never contained any content. Could be mean for use later, once these notes are decoded.

Color me intrigued...


Mike - there are some dots on some of the jewels, but they are not clear in the photos. Can you post details of the markings on each enclosed object, please?


Also do you have the details on the books that the other notes were found in yet?


Is there anything unique, or potentially significant, about the library area where these notes were all found. I know you mentioned that it was Economics/Poly Sci, and that the books were all approx. 5 ft up, but were they also between specific categories, numbers or alphabetically arranged authors?


Where is Robert Langdon when you need him?

I had a quick thought that perhaps the paint markings on each object had something to do with the order each page was supposed to be "read" in. My thought was that if each object had two colors and one of each color was only shared with one other color on one other object, it would create a link.

For example, blue and red dot on feather. Blue and green dot on gem. Green and yellow dot on leaf.

Just an idea


My name is Logan, I go to school at g.s Lakie middle school. The orange feather could mean sun, the pink one could mean harvest moon, the green one could mean land, the vase could mean flowers, grass, the cardboard box could mean resources. Jewels could mean diamonds and rubies. the pillow could the feathers in the pillow. the frame could mean the pictures in the library. LOOK in the pictures on every pictures on the library walls look. In the books on the page the note found on. The glass could mean water.These could all be clues.
i am excited to see what you find

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Mike Moffatt is an Assistant Professor in the Business, Economics and Public Policy group at Ivey. An economist by training, Mike's interests relate to the intersection of societal issues, public policy, economic growth, monetary policy and firm level strategy.
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