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MORE ON THE ‘ET FACE & DISC’ DECODING - 27/10/2002

JACK SULLIVAN reveals more intriguing details on the meaning of the digital code held within this summer’s Crabwood formation, and takes issue with some of the decoding done so far…


"The devil is in the details". This phrase is often used to state that a particular circumstance is more complex than it first appears. This is the case with the Winchester Binary Disc decoding.

The first decoding was done by Richard Brain, who claims to be a professional cryptographic expert working for the US government. He explained how he had carried out the job and presented the decoded message on Linda Moulton Howe's website, ‘Earthfiles’, at www.earthfiles.com. The decoding is a three stage operation anyone can do, given Steve Alexander's very sharp aerial photo, a copy of the ASCII Character Set (available on the internet at http://robelle.com/smugbook/ascii.htlm, and a commonly available pocket scientific calculator which allows Mode switching to either 'Normal Decimal' , 'Binary', or 'Hexadecimal'.

The disc's message begins in the centre and is carried by a clearly defined data band or strip which spirals outwards. Each letter of the message is represented by eight 'bits', each bit being a uniform square of either standing or flattened crop. Each eight bit letter segment is separated from its neighbours by a narrower piece or ridge of standing crop and there is a very subtle crop mark generally discernible between the individual bits where a group of similar bits occurs. The process of decoding, then, is to read each group of eight bits from the photograph, enter the group in 0s and 1s into the calculator in binary mode, and switch the calculator mode to normal decimal, which will then display a number. Look up this number in the ASCII Character Set to obtain an English alphabet letter. Repeat this process along the spiral data strip to obtain the full ‘message'.

For example, the first eight bit group at the centre of the spiral reads: 01000010. The calculator transposes this to number 66 in Decimal notation and to number 42 in Hexadecimal notation. The ASCII list gives 'upper case B' against these numbers, which is the first letter of "Beware" .

For those not yet familiar with the decoding, the full message verbatim reads: “Beware the bearers of FALSE gifts & their BROKEN PROMISES. Much PAIN but still time. BELIEvE. There is GOOD out there. We OPpose DECEPTION. Conduit CLOSING. Acknowledge.”

Richard Brain was unable initially to identify the word "BELIEvE" (initially seen as ‘EELIJ?E’), saying he thought it was a corrupted word. The problem was that he read the first 'B' as an 'E'. The binary code for E is 01000101. The binary code for B is 01000010. In the field spiral (see marked photo) there is an encoding error (marked with a red X in the photo above right)! This letter has nine individual bits and appears to read 010000101. Note that there are four clearly defined zeros together; also note the subtle spacing marks. Richard read only three of these, which led him to interpret an eight bit 'E'. However, if in the field reading the first eight bits are read correctly and the last bit ignored as an error, the letter becomes 'B'. For me, this has to be the correct interpretation.

However, the letter 'v' of this word ‘BELIEvE’ presented an entirely different problem. Richard Brain read this as a completely baffling twelve bit segment: 011010101010. In the field spiral there seems to have been much disruption of this letter (see photo), possibly due to the adjacent tramline. I read the bit group as 01010101010. The binary code for lower case 'v' is 01110110. Given the context, this must be the intended letter. I think that this latter eight bit segment was inadvertently stretched during execution. If three zeros are crossed out as follows, the sequence becomes correct for lower case 'v', viz. 01x1x101x10.

Richard’s interpretation of the last word of the whole message I find difficult to account for. He has it as Hex. 7, "Bell Sound" in the ASCII code. This translates as binary 0111. I find it impossible to confirm this. The last four bit group is clearly 0110 - please check this for yourselves from the marked photo. Binary 0110 in ASCII transposes as Hex.6 "Acknowledge".

Was Richard’s interpretation a mistake? This is unlikely given that he professes to be an encryption expert! Or was it a deliberate suppression? If the latter, why? Could it be because the word “acknowledge” in a coded message is a request for an answer and it was realised that any hoaxing theory wouldn't stand up in the face of such a request? Anyone who makes the effort to check the decoding process will also come to realise that while Richard Brain has involved the use of Hexadecimal notation, it is really quite unnecessary. All that is required is to be able to use decimal and binary notation and switch between the two.

Could it be that all this was an attempt to obfuscate the event and make it appear to be too complicated for lay researchers to decode?

Backing up the 'request' idea is the fact that following the 0110 segment, the data strip itself continues for one complete revolution, which seems to be inviting us to use it ourselves for a reply. We would have been able to impress about eighteen letters into this unused strip, saying something like "Wow. Message received."

As I said at the beginning, "The devil is in the detail", and the detail in this formation is quite staggering. I have to agree with Martin Noakes that the formation is quite beyond the abilities of any known group of human hoaxers. Consider how the unused outer circle of the data strip finally tapers away to nothing; how and why would a human group do that? And just how were the individual 'bit' separation marks made and placed so accurately? And the precisely formed spiral? No hoaxer has yet been able to plank out anything near it. The other subtle and precisely worked details of the face portrait, etc. are the work of a master, which I doubt could be replicated in daylight hours, let alone in one dark night, by any human agency.

As for the message itself, I think it is clearly expressing displeasure aimed at the hoaxing fraternity. The implied true gifts are the wonderful crop formations we have been presented with. The "False gifts" are the plankers’ efforts and false claims, which are seen to be mocking the real thing. The hoaxers are causing "much Pain", or much Pain will result! " But still time" - to repent and desist, perhaps. I may be wrong with this interpretation, but the 'hoaxing lads' may be taking great risks from now on. If you're planking away on some dark night in the fields lads, and you begin to feel hot under the collar, it will be the microwaves. Get out of the field quickly, or fry with your boots on.

JACK SULLIVAN
Crabwood, Aug 2002 (photo: STEVE ALEXANDER)
Crabwood, Aug 2002 (photo: STEVE ALEXANDER)
The disc highlighted - see article (original photo: LUCY PRINGLE)
The disc highlighted - see article (original photo: LUCY PRINGLE)

 

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