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June 01, 2011

Decoding the Capsule: Twin Attacks

There were innumerable problems getting the Dead Sea Scrolls into the public domain, we remind ourselves. This great project has become a slog with quite sinister overtones but then again, what else should be expected? Our waking mantra has always been that we would like to get on with the difficult translation of the holodimensional inscriptions that would be in itself daunting enough without the mind crushing series of hindrances that has occurred across the decades and that most recently has culminated in what can only be described as a seemingly overt attack on the project.

It might appear rather transparent for us to go on protecting potentially identifying information given that our cover defenses seem to have been penetrated completely and thoroughly at every turn. Since we last went dark there was an initial series of problems in January of 2010 when an important hard drive used for back up went down and then just weeks later, our principal laptop also went into what could not be anything but a virus induced death grip.

Then it was only two weeks later that we suffered an even more overwhelming setback. In the midst of what was the second of two back-to-back, historic, blizzards we woke up to find the roof of the house on fire. The fire left a small but significant hole in the roof that was already burdened with nearly 30 inches of heavy snow melting under its own weight.

For the next few days the melting water poured in traveling across the rafters and penetrating nearly every corner of the house that we had been forced to abandon. But not before we managed to pack a couple of carry on bags, including of course some key documents and the back up discs we had. Even then, the catastrophe occurred before we had recovered from the twin data attacks making even simple data rescuing touch and go.

The capsule itself was in what we consider to be an extremely secure location nowhere near the house so it was in no danger of being removed. And as there was no digging out the burial mound that sepulchered the car, we made our way, dragging the wheelies, through the ruts of unplowed streets to the closest Metro stop, which was underground and still functioning. Five or six stops down tunnel, we emerged to check into one of the large, quite posh downtown hotels.

The half darkened granite and marble grand lobby was festooned with floral arrangements. There had been, we could see, a wedding scheduled for that weekend and some of the participating guests had made it in only to find themselves trapped in the near empty building in a near empty city. They wandered around in high costume, waiting to find out if the dress rehearsal was going to be called off. We, in contrast, shedded snowy slush from our coats, hats, and boots, as we made our carpeted way to the front desk.

......

As we gazed from our hotel window across the Mall into Virginia the next morning, the sun now radiantly shining on the glistening fresh snow, our minds were focused on this city's more nefarious shadows, darker than any shaft way on this shortest, most angular of days, and on the shape of the hand that we were convinced had reached out so invisibly.

How, we mused, were we going to explain to the insurance folks, who we should have notified immediately, that the roof had somehow ignited under such impossible circumstances. We knew then, even before we had even called them that we were going to be entering into a battle that would conceivably tie us up in knots for months to come. It would be impossible to prove that the arson was not self induced. The Fire Department, we thought, had already made the judgement.

At that moment, in full daylight, It seemed as if it would be necessary to approach DC Metropolitan Police but how? Raising their suspicions could only worsen the situation since we would be reporting a crime that of course could only boomerang back on us, something our attackers would surely have anticipated when they came up with the plot. There would be no tracks in the snow of someone scaling up to the roof and as we were part of a row of houses someone could have come from 4 houses down. The snow fell at about 3 inches an hour for 5 or 6 hours after the fire broke out.

We decided to wait for a lawyer before even contacting the insurance company to initiate a claim. We were staying just 3 blocks from FBI Headquarters and within miles of some of the world's blackest op centers. Fortunately, the DC Fire Department, their hands full of the thousands of other emergency situations, had left the house without condemning it or making judgment.

Only a few days later, did we discover that the fan had been installed right below one of the two principal beams holding up the entire span of roof. The fire would be deemed accidental and we could proceed with our claim. We rejoiced at that little knowing what it might be like wrestling with that behemoth in the days ahead.

But for that moment we thought only about rescuing as much as we could. There was much we could do immediately so we quickly decided to try to take the Metro up to the Potomac stop and walk to the nearby hardware store for as many tarpaulins as we could carry. But two stops down from Metro Center we were told we had to get off the train. That turned into picking our way up Capitol Hill where nothing had been plowed, neither sidewalk nor Independence Ave.; we were reduced to stepping in the footsteps of those who had walked the hill before us. A woman with a baby carriage, who had left the train with us, was left to try and push her baby up the middle of the street in the tracks of the 4 wheelers that were splashingly pushing themselves quite steadily on both sides. There was no way to help her without putting our own lives in danger.

Hours later, we were able to enter the darkened now cold and cavernous house still furnished with all our belongings, the eerie sound of water pouring in above was syncopated to the sounds of a thousand more or less steady drips onto the ground floor. Already the plaster board ceilings were opening and breaking apart under the water's weight, tinting the downpour a diluted coffee white. I don't know how to describe the deep despair we both felt at that moment coupled with a fear that the entire roof might suddenly come down upon us but it resonated with that acrid odor only found in a dying house.

It's part of the human condition to feel so overwhelmed and at the same time to lose all sense of fatigue or fear or anger. We rushed breakable pottery to safe spots under tables along with smaller pieces of furniture before wrapping the mounds into dunelike arrays. The sun was already setting on that longest of short days, our flashlight beams as diffused and useless as our withering efforts. It was time to think about making the long walk back to Union Station. The tapping of the water had a new sound, that of landing on the great blue sheets of plastic we'd spread over the clumps of furniture that could be moved, the paintings and wall hangings we'd managed to stack up off the soon to be flooded floors, the breakables we'd sheltered under tables so the soon to totally collapse plaster ceilings wouldn't crush them. We felt no aches and pains from these mad labors and pouring into the innocent empty streets, the peace was overwhelming.

........

Gradually we got ourselves resettled in temporary quarters and were able to get back to a more or less regular work schedule within weeks of this personal catastrophe. Fortunately, the Egg to the Enth project was never seriously put in jeopardy by this perhaps coincidental series of events.

The major problem was still to be solved. How would those associates having physical possession of the capsule first be able to obtain a precise impression of the coded holosurface for reproduction into a workable, hopefully translatable form while maintaining evasive security? This was an extremely delicate project given that it required highly sophisticated machinery available only in a handful of non-secret laboratories. Further, there was the obvious need to pull this off without attracting the suspicions of colleagues and laboratory management. We were put in touch with a subset of the anonymous network.

This was a painstakingly slow process that wasn't completed until last August, about the same time that we were completing our own plans to remodel the wounded townhouse and put the work up for bids with local contractors. And yes, as mentioned, negotiations with the insurance company had also become a major distraction by this point. Still, we pushed it through and with help from a highly sophisticated reproduction team, we were already looking ahead to the most difficult phase of all, the decoding of a computer generated language that clearly had evolved at a time when there was a major departure from the language code trajectory anticipated at this time. It would be a momentously difficult challenge made harder by having to be pulled off under wraps.

We agreed to approach it the way any high level code breaking project would be structured today. We would throw massive computing power at it. We, of course, could not expect to have access to any of the supercomputing environments in private or public hands.

What followed was so harrowing that I hesitate to make even the cover story public at this point. Unfortunately, if our suspicions are correct, it may have had an ongoing negative spillover on a major related program aimed at interpreting signals coming in from outer space that recently lost its funding.

The Recent Breakdown of Eggn @*****

There are well known techniques for cracking codes. It has been assumed here that these approaches could be used to unravel the multidimensional coding system A servers that have hitherto proved themselves secure from the reach of government and other hostile parties.

A randomly generated shifting group of B***** volunteers agreed to provide the platform for the Eggn @***** project with an estimated 200 teraFLOPS of computing capacity. Unfortunately but by necessity it immediately became at once one of the largest decoding projects ever attempted outside of the control of a government entity. Now, we must report that the somewhat unusual nature of the project caught more than the passing attention of what now appears to be, at the very least, one of the most sophisticated signal tracking agencies on the planet.

We note this because the B***** based Eggn @***** project suffered what can only be described as a neatly targeted attack that brought it to its knees without impacting the numerous parallel projects being carried out by the same CPU's linked into the system. The worm was clearly designed to only attack our project. As a result we suffered complete database corruption. Interestingly, as abruptly as the attack occurred it ceased and we can say not without a certain guardedness that the work of decoding continues, albeit slowly. We are working on ways to authenticate the output while at the same time further hardening our defenses around the location of the capsule.

If you are reading this, we have also proposed a series of boomerang attacks for the mad world.

Posted by dymaxion at June 1, 2011 12:16 PM
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