Prepare your hexadecimal decoder rings. The greatest mystery Reddit has ever seen has returned.
No one knows who redditor A858DE45F56D9BC9 is. But about a year ago (he or she or it) began dropping random codes in an obscure, eponymous forum.
They looked like this:
2CA423280CCCF4FA 7BCBE91B69AEDC67 53B0937E5D3A6E5C 62C98324336EBB56 4B83D93847223BE8 A4FB040BF09C4949 0D21639736009677 62573764CA7C62F4 41677FC4185580F6
Redditors were stumped. Was it a spam bot? A hacker leaving codes, instructions for other computers? Some wondered—quite reasonably—if it was all just a practical joke on redditors themselves. Maybe A858DE45F56D9BC9 was sitting there at his computer, laughing at all the gullible redditors trying to solve his solution-less puzzle.
The mystery created such a hoopla on Reddit it caught the attention of outside media. BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow wrote about the phenomenon. So did the Daily Dot. And that proved a problem.
Whatever A858DE45F56D9BC9 was, it was skittish. It suddenly deleted all its old posts and disappeared. The mystery seemed like it would never be solved.
But five months later, for no discernible reason, the weird postings began all over again. And this time redditors were ready. They began to figure out how to decode a few of the messages, including this one, an ASCII representation of stonehenge:
All the messages were written in hexadecimal code, a system programmers use to represent binary data (i.e., ones and zeros) with text. If you know the format the hexadecimal message used, you can decode it pretty easily. As redditor fragglet, who solved the Stonehenge puzzle, told us last year:
“The stuff that is posted on there is hexadecimal-encoded data, so in theory it can contain any file you might have on your hard disk… For the post that drew attention, the file was Base64-encoded. So essentially it was two levels of encoding before you got to the real message.”
After the Stonehenge puzzle was solved, the ever-skittish A858DE45F56D9BC9 disappeared once more.
And now, more than a year later, it’s finally back (again).
Six days ago A858DE45F56D9BC9 started posting more coded messages. Many of them don’t use a standard hexadecimal format, meaning they aren’t as easy to decipher. Fragglet explained, “it’s like they’re just random data (or encrypted data!)”
Each new post is arriving in six-hour intervals, leading some to suspect they’re automated. Not one of them has been solved.
Want to give it a try? Here’s a sample. But you might just want to keep the answer to yourself, unless you want to scare away our weird little friend again.
7C94B292AE40D4AA EC267EB050299732 F471A974A568581C CCD095A641D235DE E2DE292B99908EF2 0F7C9CC740078D7C FA558AAE7EDB374A E631A79A47BB4073 816CEA7418261922 7CDB41D587DAD27F 9C7F9F0D39AE7931 1BBAD45C3C46C0A2 2E7D935F670F5452 222B70BEE68429AD B26BAE826A6BE59B BC3B04FC80901D6D FD13489B7578A395 B37F1CEB80C6D538 0FAAD94A573C8918 F149CCFAFB5F26BE 59E9F2BE11F80136 17E1930EC2EA0D1D 10D0D8D7BC2E0DC8 93CEA4A1A0A56586 5782B4464E41F58C BA691AD502775E01 AF7A49E6BFF2E8D4 34DDEFCAC494F1D3 65FD95BC40E3EDB0 01D39E462CFABC82 DE678DD1B9FC9034 37B6A3D35B4BC899 E40325EE530CE3B5 E336603FF09BDE72 E5166789CA42AA78 C92AF19B5D4D71A4 50C864383C3327EA
Photo by Marianna Sask/Flickr