Word pairs

Here is another quick (and pointless) diversion. As explored in the previous post, you can find words in the cryptograms without performing any substitutions. For example, in the 408-character cryptogram, the word “OUT” appears:

And the word “RIDE” can be discerned:

If we apply the solution key to those “words”, we get:

This led me to a question: Using the cipher symbols, can we create any “words” that turn into valid plain text words when deciphered using the 408’s solution key?

The tools I built for the previous post were still lying around, so they were useful in satisfying this nagging curiosity. Turns out that many words can be made this way. In the sampling below, each plaintext word is followed by its encipherment using the 408’s key. Then the interpretation of the encipherment is shown:

(If you really want to challenge your brain, try to find a word whose encipherment’s word can itself be enciphered into yet another valid word.)

One reason I was curious about these “word pairs” was because of the possibility that Zodiac “seeded” his solution key with a keyword. But even if he did, it seems impossible to discover the keyword, since too many words can be found by chance. Here’s another example of how easy it is to draw out ridiculous outcomes solely from chance:

Among the symbols of the 408-character cryptogram, Zodiac includes the normal looking letters A through Z, but excludes C. So, let’s write out those cipher letters, with the corresponding plain text substitutions underneath:

Now we can re-arrange the assignments to look for keywords:

Surely “the buffoon’s sweet genitalia” is not the message Zodiac was trying to convey…