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The ApplicationEdit

Telos discovered this information related to the question "Why is the sky blue?[1894]":

Rayleigh, Lord (1842-1919) was a British physicist who made many important discoveries in a wide variety of fields. He received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1904 for studying the density of gases and for discovering and isolating the chemical element argon. Argon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas element that forms 0.94 percent of the earth's atmosphere. Lord Rayleigh and William Ramsay discovered it in 1894.
In 1871, Rayleigh accurately explained why the sky is blue. The colors of the sky result from the scattering of sunlight by the gas molecules and dust particles in the atmosphere. Sunlight consists of light waves of varying wavelengths, each of which is seen as a different color. The shortest light waves appear blue and the longest red. The blue light waves are readily scattered by tiny particles of matter in the atmosphere, but the red light waves travel undisturbed unless they are struck by larger particles. When the sky is clear, the waves of blue light are scattered much more than those of any other color. As a result, the sky appears blue.

(Source: http://science.howstuffworks.com/lord-rayleigh-info.htm)

degravedi discovered that the chart of letters was a Vignere cypher, using "argon" as the key. Decoded, it says, "ministry of argon cord invites those that desire to join our elite force to first electronically mail at britain dot com use my first signed the herald".

About the mention of a queen in Dawn's version of the e-mail: she reminds us, "during Vanessa Atalanta, I was one of the two Queens."

Note that both e-mails were dated April 23, which is Shakespeare's birthday; the anniversary of his death is April 26.

degravedi found out that "Libatrix", the name used by the person who sent the e-mail,

is part of the scientific name for an apparently common UK moth 'Scoliopteryx libatrix' also called 'The Herald'. It fits with the phrase 'Around in circles do we fly', as moths circle light sources. Perhaps it's a more ominous reference to the idiom "like moths to a flame", either signifying that we can't resist following or will be burned by doing so..

The Vanessa Atalanta ARG made much use of butterflies in naming characters.

What is the Ministry's e-mail address? (solved)Edit

The application mentioned above seemed to want us to figure out a particular e-mail address and send an e-mail to it.

E-mail addresses which have been tried:

  • scoliopteryxSPLATbritain.com [degravedi]
  • libatrixSPLATbritain.com [degravedi]
  • theheraldSPLATbritain.com [degravedi]
  • thehearaldSPLATenglandmail.com [Telos]
  • libatrixSPLATenglandmail.com [Telos]
  • thehearaldSPLATenglandmail.com [Telos]
  • loltestSPLATenglandmail.com [Telos]
  • ministryofargonSPLATbritain.com [TremereBear]
  • jeanpierreweillerSPLATenglandmail.com [Dawn]
  • williamshakespeareSPLATenglandmail.com [Dawn]
  • mailSPLATbritain.com [Dawn]
  • jeanSPLATbritain.com [Dawn] This definitely isn't the one we're supposed to send our applications to, but does it actually work? Dawn says no, Telos says yes.
  • vanessaSPLATbritain.com [dreamerblue]
  • PheidippedesSPLATbritain.com [distilled]


Dagada made the connection between The Herald, Atalanta, Carina, and Jason and the Argonauts.

Distilled tried aethalides@britain.com and received a response (Aethalides (Αἰθαλίδης) was the son of Hermes & Eupolemeia, and a herald of Argos).

aethalides@britain.com is the solved email address to receive ministry invitations.

Passwords: Indigo and VioletEdit

On April 28, distilled "mistakenly" received an e-mail intended only for active (not probationary) MoA agents:

MINISTRY OF ARGON
Password reminders


Due to the nature of our work, we must ensure all documents are secure.
While we have new recruits accessing our network, all work that is Indigo or Violet clearance should be encrypted and locked with password.
[Green and lower are not required as all accessing these files have been vetted through Herald].


Reminder of work type:
Indigo: Acquisitions, negotiation/diplomacy channels, banking
Violet: Targeting, removal information, clearance.


Please find below reminders of these:


INDIGO
Knife for steak cut [8]
This has replaced fork for steak cut [24] due to complaints of r.s.i.


VIOLET
Snakes

We have since received a Word document which requires a password to open it. Since the file is named "Target 628.doc" and "Targeting" is listed above as something that requires Violet clearance, we likely need to figure out the Violet password in order to open it.

The image is of the Rotating Snakes illusion and was created by Akiyoshi Kitaoka, a professor of psychology in Japan. Lots of info on it can be found at http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/mot_rotsnake/index.html and http://www.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akitaoka/rotsnakee.html . It works due to something called peripheral drift.

The snake's tongues can be seen at certain points of the illusion, but otherwise they seem to have no discernible beginning or end. In this way, they are like an ouroboros (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouroboros). Note that the magician on card 1 of the Tarot has an ouroboros for a belt.

Some of the passwords we tried to use to open Target 628.doc can be found in a discussion on Claire's Ning. We eventually found that the password Violet was Kitaoka (the last name of the artist).

Masquerade, The Golden Hare, Bamber and KitEdit

Aethilides added 2 pictures to the Ning. Both of crosses, stating that "Someone asked where the Ministry began - in one sense, here." - one with the title "casting shadows". Find it here: http://argobritain.ning.com/photo/casting-shadows?context=latest.

A while later he added a picture of Britain with a spot just north of London. This was discovered to be Bedfordshire - this image has now been removed.

Following this he added a fragment of an image with the three letters "QUE", the image appeared to have been put through a number of filters - this image has now been removed.

It was discovered that the "QUE" was part of the word "Masquerade" - a book by Kit Williams in which the protagonist must transport a gold pendant of a hare from the moon to the sun (this is depicted as transporting it from a woman to a man) however, upon reaching his destination he discovers he has lost the treasure and the reader is challenged to go on a real life treasure hunt to find it. Kit Williams is the Mr Fourniment who Aethilides refers to; "fourniment" translating into "kit" from French.

What actually happened was that Mr Williams buried the treasure at Amphill in Bedfordshire. Supposedly, at the stroke of noon on the date of either the vernal or autumnal equinox, the shadow cast from the Cross of Katherine of Aragon would show the exact location of the treasure (hence the name of the first image "Casting Shadows"). I also believe that the mention of Princess Beatrice in the 8/8/88 puzzle was eventually meant to be another clue to Ampthill as an earlier Princess Beatrice opened the Cenotaph on the cross at Ampthill in 1922.

Aethilides' final image is of the front cover of Bamber Gascoigne's book "The Quest for the Golden Hare" (1983?) - Bamber was a well known TV presenter and there are a number of clues which A gave to allude to him (the title "I'll have to hurry you" is reminiscent of Bamber's pressurised style of presenting University Challenge). Bamber was a celebrity witness to the burial of the Golden Hare at Ampthill Cross, and his book tells the story of the process. Find the picture here: http://argobritain.ning.com/photo/casting-shadows/prev?context=latest.




There are a couple of facets which we could follow, but I believe the idea is to discover who the founders are, and what their purpose was.

Themes:

Katherine of Aragon
Held captive at Ampthill Castle - the cross at Ampthill was dedicated to her and of course her name is suspiciously close to Argon! There is a passage inscribed on the cross which is dedicated to her:

"In day's of old here Ampthill's towers were seen,
The mournful refuge of an injured Queen;
Here flowed her pure but unavailing tears,
Here blinded zeal sustain'd her sinking years.
Yet Freedom hence her radiant banner wav'd,
And Love aveng'd a realm by priests enslav'd;
From Catherine's wrongs a nation's bliss was spread,
And Luther's light from Henry's lawless bed."



Kit Williams, Bamber Gascoigne and Masquerade
The treasure was buried at Ampthill cross. A talks about how Gascoigne and Williams took an idea and made it reality (I assume by taking the idea of a treasure hunt from the book and actually pulling it into reality). A has emphasised that our treasure hunt can be done from anywhere in the world.

Bellepheron asked:
"Did Mr. Fourniment point the way figuratively, or is the finish line for his little race the starting pistol for ours?"
and Aethilides replied:
"Lords of time do not use guns... *smile*
He definitely pointed the way, but more in the mind rather than on the ground as it were. This venture can be undertaken wherever you are in the world, though, I fear, some aspects may triangulate to specific regions due to the Helmsman's decisions. Think of it like an arrow..."

This has a random Doctor Who reference in it, which came out of nowhere (this hasn't been properly explored yet). As well as the allusion to the "arrow"

test.docEdit

On April 28, Poeas sent Sirannon a document named test.doc (see http://rapidshare.com/files/381386053/test.doc.html). The subject line of the e-mail was "Last test of loyalty."

The body of the message read:

Tell me the shape I have hidden and I will reveal everything I can.
See attached.
Do NOT google* any part for at least an hour after receiving as this will trigger a loop which will get us both into trouble.
Please, work it out for yourself - apply your brain and your Airy thoughts.
H le R**


"*or any search engine - no fishing either!
"** it is, and always is H le R not HdR - I was tired - sorry!

[note: the quote marks in front of the last 2 lines above are only to keep the wiki from turning the asterisks into bullets...I didn't like the code view, either, heh -- dreamerblue]

Pulling out only the italicized letters from the document yields redunitcwestermancomhove.

distilled was able to crack the code from there:

"red unit-c westerman com hove"


Hove is a place in the south of England - near Brighton. So, I did some digging. Observe my power!


http://www.redherringstudios.org/


Red Herring Studios, Unit C, Westerman Complex, School Road, Hove BN3 5HX T/F 01273 747503 infoSPLATredherringstudios.org

Further digging showed that this website is older than this game, so while we were supposed to find the website, we are not likely supposed to do anything with it...it really is a red herring :).

However, the red herring was not the only thing Poeas wanted us to get to in the document.

A second message related to this:

subject: awaiting the shape
and the reasons behind it - read your attachment again don't be fooled by he italic fish though, just focus on the actual words.
Easy as huh?
Poeas, smiling slightly but still scared, knowing Orpheus will eventually look back...

And a third:

subject: Spring is for healing
Tick tick tick...

Attached to that message was http://docs.google.com/document/edit?id=1qzsbXH3TsHH7iQvicphVbcUh1LoTbYjNZzp3lxO18cc&hl=en .

The document's filename was "place.doc". Telos discovered that moving a blank image out of the way in this document and trying to select the space behind it showed that white text was hidden on a white background. The text read:

Due to rules of fair play
And not ruining the day
I now set up a rhyme
To help you pass the time
The dome now is bright copper green
His crest from here was fully seen
First aflame, then hidden face
Tell me Argonauts, where is the place?
Answer soon and I will tell
Prove yourselves to be all well
Answer late and time will pass
An axe may fall upon the lass…

The visible text read:

What shall we think of an engine of wood and metal which can not only compute astronomical and navigation tables to any given extent, but render the exactitude of its operations mathematically certain through its power of correcting its possible errors?

Then, in much larger text:

In for ever knowing, we are for ever blessed;
but to know all were the curse of a fiend.

Amandel discovered that the first visible section is from an essay by Poe titled MAELZEL'S CHESS-PLAYER. In the quoted section Poe speaks at length about Charles Babbage's machine and early "computers" with remarkable insight. He also asks, "But if these machines were ingenious, what shall we think of the calculating machine of Mr. Babbage?"

Telos discovered that the quote in larger text is from The Power of Words, also by Poe. (http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/POE/powords.html)

On May 8, Poeas sent another prodding e-mail:

Time's moving on
And the lass is prone
'He' was Dyson
Saw with friends, not lone.
The royal we
infers friends of sight
from School perhaps
London's not right...
The time is needed
The runes are round
They number second
to location's ground
George V is king
You know who's queen
Tell me where
ekleípō was seen
The axe is sharpened
Time passes fast
Who breaks the circle?
Who will last...

Amandel discovers that ekleípō is "An eclipse (Ancient Greek noun έκλειψις (ékleipsis), from verb εκλείπω (ekleípō), 'I cease to exist.'"

A further e-mail sent May 10:

No shape returned to me. Obviously I can't COUNT on your thinking beyond the obvious there.
Regarding the place for Tiphys [yes I still get the warnings too...] no news back either.
One question - as I am risking my life to help beyond my family but your friend too... Why should I rely on people who can't work out basics?
A last offering of a helpful hand, before it become the one that weilds a weapon...:
The axe swings
For one final time
I can’t believe
You need this one last rhyme
Most are threatened
By the future past
The key figure
Has his laugh last
The place he sees
The sun and mask
Should be your only
Final task
Almost half seven
In army time
Years or minutes
Solve this rhyme
I cannot rely
On those sans brain
Hence this riddle
And my help, again

When V posted her May 10 blog, it included some mnemonic devices people use, including one in which the number of letters in each successive word correspond to the successive digits of pi. Amandel figured out that the poem in test.doc is a very complicated mnemonic device for even more digits of pi! It was suggested that perhaps the shape that Poeas had hidden was a circle.

On May 12, after asking her if the hidden shape was a circle and the place we were supposed to identify was the Old Royal Observatory location, Poeas sent this to Amandel, confirming the shape but not the place:

When red becomes green
The circle is seen
and men look up at the sky
But their location is in
'Where time does begin'
But instead somewhere else - do try...
Hosts who count down
With Carol and town
On the English terrestrial four
Attended this place
No conundrum or pace
But instead waited by the school door
Now my rhyme comes to an end
Dear foe, or indeed friend
And I make my plans alone it seems now
For those I did ask
Did fail in their task
And the axe will now fall - but how...
A chance as I hope
That time's not a joke
For those who I may need to rely on
Your minds need to focus
To locate the right locus
Times ticking, I plan, The Ministry spies on...

Dagada worked out much of this: "The 'Count Down' and 'Carol' references may link to the UK TV show 'Countdown' which was co-hosted by Carol Vorderman for many years. This show was filmed in Leeds for Yorkshire TV, although I doubt that has relevance. The main host was Richard Whiteley. Terrestrial Four will relate to the fact the show was on Channel 4." He also found out that Richard Whiteley attended Giggleswick School, and that an eclipse was viewed from there.

jessie1326 further discovers that, according to Wikipedia, "The grounds of Giggleswick School (near the Chapel) were selected as the official observation post for the 1927 solar eclipse and thus Sir Frank Watson Dyson, the Astronomer Royal, was blessed with a wonderful view of the flaming corona of the sun through the whole 23 seconds of its total eclipse." This location therefore has a connection to Dyson and the viewing of an eclipse; it just took us a long time to figure out that we were supposed to figure out where he saw the 1927 eclipse rather than the one in 1919.

A picture of the school's chapel's copper dome can be seen at http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/w1J90BzSps-QU52dJ_apBA .

Around in circles documentEdit

Robin starts the 26

while Bluetit give you the 'eye'.

Victory says the sparrow

whilst bats aren't birds but fly

'You' will like the mute swan

The crow will 'be' there too

The coot wil give you 'ell' though

Now go - you've read - please do...


This passage was a clue to the Around in Circles.doc which had puzzled every player for the previous few days. What this passage alluded to was that each bird in the grid referred to a letter. Bluetit being "I" (or, "eye"), sparrow being "V" and so on. The document was decoded by degravedi to mean the following (after a bit of jiggery pokery regarding word division):


"If you go to London town, where sixty pounds gets you brown, three butterflies greet ladys noun... Keep left!!! Turn around.

Around in circles do we fly, all but one birds of the sky, guard is crow with his eye, yet pica twice points low no high.

Betwixt the stars where five can eat, three are found to sail or seat, dont be cross or incomplete, under circles by your feet."

Distilled discovered (after clues left by Poeas) that the first line "sixty pounds gets you brown" referred to Old Kent Road (a £60 brown property on a Monopoly board), this lead celendis to discover Burgess park nearby.


The "three butterflies" referred to three butterflies over Wells Way underpass, seen here: Wells Way Underpass

Following the various clues we were able to direct Claire to the 5 benches north of the lake, and from there to the boat shaped seats nearby, under the seat with rings on Claire located the USB stick.

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