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The Alan Turing
Cryptography Competition.
edition 2018
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The Tale of the

Morphogenesis

Mystery

Is released!
Points available: 1 of 15
Is released!
Points available: 1 of 15
Is released!
Points available: 1 of 15
Is released!
Points available: 3 of 15
(Until 22 Feb, 5:09 pm)
Chapter 5
Due: Mon 26 Feb, 4 pm
Countdown clock:
Chapter 6
Due: Mon 12 Mar, 4 pm
Solutions
Due: Mon 9 Apr, 4 pm
Announcing

The Alan Turing

Cryptography Day

2018!

Want to come over to Manchester for a bit of live crypto stuff, the prize ceremony and an opportunity to meet the organisers?

Find out more!

Chapter 4 of the Tale of The Morphogenesis Mystery.

The following morning, Mike and Ellie walked from their campsite down to the Garamond Institute.

"I can't believe you didn't hear that awful howling last night!" said Ellie. "It was terrifying! But without it I wouldn't have seen that flashing light. I wonder who sent it and who was supposed to see it. Hardly anybody lives up here. The only people around are us, the scientists at the Garamond Institute, and possibly the Maliphant sisters."

Mike tapped at his phone. "I've sent a text to Barquith to let him know. I'm not sure why I bother though, he still hasn't replied to any of the texts we've sent to him."

They approached the Garamond Institute. Once a converted stately home, it had not lost its gothic stature since being converted to a research laboratory 70 years earlier. Standing by the entrance was Dr Truman Cuddeny, the new Director of the Institute.

"Welcome to the home of mathematical biology research! Come in, and let me show you around," said Cuddeny. He escorted them inside and showed them around the ground floor of the building. "This is where most of our scientists have their laboratories. Their accommodation is on the first floor — the views of the moor are spectacular!" He opened one door and revealed a room full of people typing on computers. "Mostly our work requires us to do mathematical modelling on computers."

"And what exactly is the Institute's work?" asked Ellie.

"It's Government research — a bit hush-hush. Broadly we're trying to exploit Turing's model of morphogenesis which can describe how pattern formation works in biological systems. Turing demonstrated that chemical diffusion could actually stimulate pattern formation rather the suppressing it, as had been previously believed. We're trying to apply his results to trigger specific changes. Just imagine, we could use those changes to reverse degenerative diseases. Although our funders are actively encouraging us to accelerate the changes. For example, you do know that plant branchings and leaf formations can follow a Fibonacci sequence don't you? Good. If we can increase the number of branchings then we could have more productive crops or even a self-replicating mechanism for distributing particular biological compounds over a wide area. Easy to sneak a few seeds into almost anywhere." He caught himself. "Apologies, I'm rambling on."

A bookish face on the front row of desks looked up. "You remember Dr Izzy Mortimer? Izzy, perhaps you could join our little tour," said Cuddeny as he turned to leave the room."

"Certainly," said Izzy.

The tour continued as Cuddeny showed Mike and Ellie around. "I want to show you where Dr Charles Garamond's body was found," said Cuddeny, as he led them out of the main building and across a courtyard. They passed what had once been the stables. Muffled barking could be heard coming from inside. "Don't get too close," said Cuddeny. "We keep the dogs and some of our more, ahem, sensitive experiments in there. It's very dangerous."

As they walked down the rear drive and onto the moor, Cuddeny halted and pointed to a small patch of grass. "There," he said. "That's where they found Garamond's body. He'd been mauled to death."

"It was Old Schuck!" said Izzy. "All the local people are talking about it. There's been a legend of a ghostly hound haunting the moors for generations. But now it's a reality, all the locals are too scared to go on the moors."

"Don't go scaring the children," said Cuddeny. "At least, not too much. I'm sure they'd like to investigate the crime scene a bit further but I need to get back to work. Look after them, would you?"

Izzy hung back as Cuddeny walked back towards the Institute. She turned to Mike and Ellie. "Have you met the Maliphant sisters?" she whispered quickly. Mike and Ellie nodded. Izzy pulled an envelope out of her back pocket. "Good," she said, "can you get this to Hope Maliphant without her overbearing sister noticing? I've seen them out on the moors every day this week, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding them." Without further explanation, Izzy walked away to catch up with Cuddeny.

Mike and Ellie looked at each other. "There's something odd going on here and I'm not sure who to trust. I think we should find out what this letter says before we deliver it."

Puzzle 4

Your task:

Above is the contents of the envelope that Izzy gave to Mike and Ellie. It contains a secret message, which you should decode. Once you have done that, submit your answer to the question below.

Question: What is the 43rd word of the plaintext?
Your answer:
 

Please log in (or register first if you haven't yet done so) to submit your answer.
  • There are 3 out of 15 points to be earned for this Chapter if you find the correct answer before Thursday 22nd February at 5:09 pm.