Help me with this puzzle?

The QR code leads here and there’s a PDF on that page.

After much thought:

  • The hints say only that it can be solved with pencil and paper, and that you do not need to write code.
  • Clearly the answer must be describable in a few words, so the solution can be checked.
  • I believe the colors are not significant. The lines might be differently colored to help distinguish them.
  • I am guessing that the answer is a phrase in English. Are 4 and 9 the endpoints?
  • Some of the numbers look like hexadecimal. These all end in 6. Coincidence?
  • None of the numbers end in 0, 1, 2, 3, 8, or 9.

This was on the inside back cover of the current issue of Science News


Initial thoughts:
Looks like hexadecimal, but converting to decimal doesn’t suggest anything
18 nodes (16 unique with C6 and 56 repeated)
41 lines in 15 colors, all line colors match one of its connected nodes
3 nodes have no lines in their color (4, 57, 27)
the other 15 nodes have 1 to 6 matching lines
If each node is a letter (with 16 of the 26 being used) and each line color set a separate word it could be a 15 word phrase with 2 to 7 letters each and 56 total letters.

Might give it some time tomorrow


Ask for Paul.


The colors may be a clue, but unfortunately I can’t see in color. That seems… unfair.


The coloring of the lines is pretty clear. Starting with the node at the 12 o clock position that node’s color is the same as all lines emanating from it. Moving clockwise this pattern repeats until you hit a node that already has a connection. After that only the new connections have lines that match the node’s color.

Don’t know if it means anything though.

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That’s why I think the colors don’t matter. There are many people with degrees of color blindness. I feel like SN wouldn’t publish a puzzle that required some physical ability

I think the colors are significant. I’m wondering if it indicates which letters come before or after other letters. For example, nothing precedes “9” which comes before “27” which comes before “66”… “C6,” “56,” “44” and “35” also appear before “27” at different points in the message. Or something like that.

It’s funny that each node has a unique color, but not necessarily a unique code. I don’t know what to make of that.


Lol nope. Whenever there are two colors on a chart, they’re always red and green. I have the most mild form of the most common form of colorblindness, and to me, red and green look absolutely identical. If I explain this to people, they react as if they’ve never heard of that. I’ve had sales associates at clothing stores literally call me stupid, and have people laugh at me in business meetings when I couldn’t tell items marked in red from items marked in green. Ten percent of the population has this problem, but because nobody ever talks about it, the other ninety percent are unaware that it even exists. But that’s just my lived experience.


Does this help with the color issue? I’ve put dots to show which lines are owned by which nodes.

Just noticed one that’s wrong…the one between C6 and 35, not sure which that belongs to.


There’s a question (which they refer to as a “hint”) above the answer box on the webpage - “Which path did you take?”.
I put in about 3 Robert Frost variations and gave up, but the question’s definitely relevant.


4 and 9 aren’t very popular.

The first thing that I thought of was a Chord DHT.

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Clearly 4 is either the beginning or end of the path. The “white” nodes on the outside could be start/end points too maybe?

Do you think those are important? I just assumed they were part of the background design.

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I don’t know but I’m guessing that a lot of people made the same assumption you did and I don’t think it is a good assumption.

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Any progress on this puzzle?

Looks like it belongs to 35 based on the slight color differences

The linked page in the hint links to National Security Agency Central Security Service > About Us > Cryptologic Heritage > National Cryptologic Museum which has in the top left a logo of three concentric letter wheels…

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