“ELISA Redux” 96-Well Plate Cryptography Challenge

Posted by – November 11, 2009

The publication GEN is running a contest, with $1,500 plus fancy biotechnology equipment as the prize, for the first one who can decode the cryptographic message hidden in this 96-well plate:

GEN's ELISA Redux contest well plate

"A message has been encrypted into the ELISA plate image, called ELISA Redux, based on the color of each well."

Register on the GEN site to solve the puzzle.  As of today, I haven’t made much progress in decoding the message, after way too many hours spent crunching the numbers.  Parts of the data look interesting, though I haven’t coaxed letters out of the numbers yet:

ELISA Redux RGB sum

So far the puzzle has been very successful in acting as a vacuum which sucks up time.  The story behind the puzzle’s creation is interesting, based on a sci/techie art book which is “a collection of poems illustrative of thirty years of personal development in multiple complex environments.” From the contest’s hints:

Clue 1: The solution is a unique verbal statement. The color shown is not
trivial.

Clue 2: Only letters are specifically coded. Color transparency is important to
the solution.

Clue 3: Letters are separated from one another by arbitrary numbers of blank
grid positions.

Clue 4: The puzzle cannot be solved by letter-frequency analysis.

Clue 5: The color spectrum ROYGBIV can be considered to be numeric. The row
designations A-H may be assigned numbers 1-8; a special relationship exists
between them and the column numbers as reflected within the cells themselves.

For the hackers out there, I’ll save you some time. Here are the color values I decoded from the image.

# RGB data as R,G,B  -- jcline@ieee.org
__DATA__
11,175,10
57,172,56
64,172,63
54,172,53
81,171,80
96,170,96
132,167,132
60,172,59
159,166,159
71,171,70
64,172,63
51,173,50
24,174,23
156,166,156
93,170,93
139,167,139
143,167,143
64,172,63
67,172,66
143,167,143
11,175,10
11,175,10
64,172,63
11,175,10
11,175,10
152,166,152
93,170,93
24,174,23
74,171,73
11,175,10
14,175,13
47,172,46
14,175,13
93,170,93
93,170,93
34,174,33
146,167,146
14,175,13
24,174,23
132,167,132
162,165,162
96,170,96
113,169,113
11,175,10
143,167,143
8,175,7
106,169,106
156,166,156
126,168,126
116,168,116
103,169,103
14,175,13
146,167,146
30,173,29
106,169,106
152,166,152
89,170,89
146,167,146
11,175,10
86,170,86
17,174,16
119,168,119
24,174,23
77,171,76
38,174,37
38,174,37
4,175,3
24,174,23
126,168,126
149,166,149
27,174,26
96,170,96
17,174,16
4,175,3
162,165,162
27,174,26
123,169,123
21,175,20
51,173,50
99,169,99
24,174,23
93,170,93
136,167,136
149,166,149
119,168,119
27,174,26
51,173,50
38,174,37
51,173,50
103,169,103
14,175,13
83,171,83
116,168,116
38,174,37
57,172,56
41,173,40
__END__
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2 Comments on “ELISA Redux” 96-Well Plate Cryptography Challenge

  1. JonathanCline says:

    Clue 6: A special relationship between row number, column number, and color spectral position determines the allowable locations within which cells can be assigned letters, but not all allowed positions are filled with letters.

    Clue 7: The multiple of row and column designations for each cell is divided by the color number in the spectrum ROYGBIV. Only in these sites can letters be encoded.

    More digging into the data:

    well#01 index 00 rgb= 11,175, 10 hsv=119.64,0.94,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.89,0.36
    well#02 index 01 rgb= 57,172, 56 hsv=119.48,0.67,0.67 hsl=119.48,0.51,0.45
    well#03 index 02 rgb= 64,172, 63 hsv=119.45,0.63,0.67 hsl=119.45,0.46,0.46
    well#04 index 03 rgb= 54,172, 53 hsv=119.50,0.69,0.67 hsl=119.50,0.53,0.44
    well#05 index 04 rgb= 81,171, 80 hsv=119.34,0.53,0.67 hsl=119.34,0.36,0.49
    well#06 index 05 rgb= 96,170, 96 hsv=120.00,0.44,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.30,0.52
    well#07 index 06 rgb=132,167,132 hsv=120.00,0.21,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.17,0.59
    well#08 index 07 rgb= 60,172, 59 hsv=119.47,0.66,0.67 hsl=119.47,0.49,0.45
    well#09 index 08 rgb=159,166,159 hsv=120.00,0.04,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.04,0.64
    well#10 index 09 rgb= 71,171, 70 hsv=119.41,0.59,0.67 hsl=119.41,0.42,0.47
    well#11 index 10 rgb= 64,172, 63 hsv=119.45,0.63,0.67 hsl=119.45,0.46,0.46
    well#12 index 11 rgb= 51,173, 50 hsv=119.51,0.71,0.68 hsl=119.51,0.55,0.44
    well#13 index 12 rgb= 24,174, 23 hsv=119.60,0.87,0.68 hsl=119.60,0.77,0.39
    well#14 index 13 rgb=156,166,156 hsv=120.00,0.06,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.05,0.63
    well#15 index 14 rgb= 93,170, 93 hsv=120.00,0.45,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.31,0.52
    well#16 index 15 rgb=139,167,139 hsv=120.00,0.17,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.14,0.60
    well#17 index 16 rgb=143,167,143 hsv=120.00,0.14,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.12,0.61
    well#18 index 17 rgb= 64,172, 63 hsv=119.45,0.63,0.67 hsl=119.45,0.46,0.46
    well#19 index 18 rgb= 67,172, 66 hsv=119.43,0.62,0.67 hsl=119.43,0.45,0.47
    well#20 index 19 rgb=143,167,143 hsv=120.00,0.14,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.12,0.61
    well#21 index 20 rgb= 11,175, 10 hsv=119.64,0.94,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.89,0.36
    well#22 index 21 rgb= 11,175, 10 hsv=119.64,0.94,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.89,0.36
    well#23 index 22 rgb= 64,172, 63 hsv=119.45,0.63,0.67 hsl=119.45,0.46,0.46
    well#24 index 23 rgb= 11,175, 10 hsv=119.64,0.94,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.89,0.36
    well#25 index 24 rgb= 11,175, 10 hsv=119.64,0.94,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.89,0.36
    well#26 index 25 rgb=152,166,152 hsv=120.00,0.08,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.07,0.62
    well#27 index 26 rgb= 93,170, 93 hsv=120.00,0.45,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.31,0.52
    well#28 index 27 rgb= 24,174, 23 hsv=119.60,0.87,0.68 hsl=119.60,0.77,0.39
    well#29 index 28 rgb= 74,171, 73 hsv=119.39,0.57,0.67 hsl=119.39,0.40,0.48
    well#30 index 29 rgb= 11,175, 10 hsv=119.64,0.94,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.89,0.36
    well#31 index 30 rgb= 14,175, 13 hsv=119.63,0.93,0.69 hsl=119.63,0.86,0.37
    well#32 index 31 rgb= 47,172, 46 hsv=119.52,0.73,0.67 hsl=119.52,0.58,0.43
    well#33 index 32 rgb= 14,175, 13 hsv=119.63,0.93,0.69 hsl=119.63,0.86,0.37
    well#34 index 33 rgb= 93,170, 93 hsv=120.00,0.45,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.31,0.52
    well#35 index 34 rgb= 93,170, 93 hsv=120.00,0.45,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.31,0.52
    well#36 index 35 rgb= 34,174, 33 hsv=119.57,0.81,0.68 hsl=119.57,0.68,0.41
    well#37 index 36 rgb=146,167,146 hsv=120.00,0.13,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.11,0.61
    well#38 index 37 rgb= 14,175, 13 hsv=119.63,0.93,0.69 hsl=119.63,0.86,0.37
    well#39 index 38 rgb= 24,174, 23 hsv=119.60,0.87,0.68 hsl=119.60,0.77,0.39
    well#40 index 39 rgb=132,167,132 hsv=120.00,0.21,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.17,0.59
    well#41 index 40 rgb=162,165,162 hsv=120.00,0.02,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.02,0.64
    well#42 index 41 rgb= 96,170, 96 hsv=120.00,0.44,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.30,0.52
    well#43 index 42 rgb=113,169,113 hsv=120.00,0.33,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.25,0.55
    well#44 index 43 rgb= 11,175, 10 hsv=119.64,0.94,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.89,0.36
    well#45 index 44 rgb=143,167,143 hsv=120.00,0.14,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.12,0.61
    well#46 index 45 rgb= 8,175, 7 hsv=119.64,0.96,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.92,0.36
    well#47 index 46 rgb=106,169,106 hsv=120.00,0.37,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.27,0.54
    well#48 index 47 rgb=156,166,156 hsv=120.00,0.06,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.05,0.63
    well#49 index 48 rgb=126,168,126 hsv=120.00,0.25,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.19,0.58
    well#50 index 49 rgb=116,168,116 hsv=120.00,0.31,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.23,0.56
    well#51 index 50 rgb=103,169,103 hsv=120.00,0.39,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.28,0.53
    well#52 index 51 rgb= 14,175, 13 hsv=119.63,0.93,0.69 hsl=119.63,0.86,0.37
    well#53 index 52 rgb=146,167,146 hsv=120.00,0.13,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.11,0.61
    well#54 index 53 rgb= 30,173, 29 hsv=119.58,0.83,0.68 hsl=119.58,0.71,0.40
    well#55 index 54 rgb=106,169,106 hsv=120.00,0.37,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.27,0.54
    well#56 index 55 rgb=152,166,152 hsv=120.00,0.08,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.07,0.62
    well#57 index 56 rgb= 89,170, 89 hsv=120.00,0.48,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.32,0.51
    well#58 index 57 rgb=146,167,146 hsv=120.00,0.13,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.11,0.61
    well#59 index 58 rgb= 11,175, 10 hsv=119.64,0.94,0.69 hsl=119.64,0.89,0.36
    well#60 index 59 rgb= 86,170, 86 hsv=120.00,0.49,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.33,0.50
    well#61 index 60 rgb= 17,174, 16 hsv=119.62,0.91,0.68 hsl=119.62,0.83,0.37
    well#62 index 61 rgb=119,168,119 hsv=120.00,0.29,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.22,0.56
    well#63 index 62 rgb= 24,174, 23 hsv=119.60,0.87,0.68 hsl=119.60,0.77,0.39
    well#64 index 63 rgb= 77,171, 76 hsv=119.37,0.56,0.67 hsl=119.37,0.38,0.48
    well#65 index 64 rgb= 38,174, 37 hsv=119.56,0.79,0.68 hsl=119.56,0.65,0.41
    well#66 index 65 rgb= 38,174, 37 hsv=119.56,0.79,0.68 hsl=119.56,0.65,0.41
    well#67 index 66 rgb= 4,175, 3 hsv=119.65,0.98,0.69 hsl=119.65,0.97,0.35
    well#68 index 67 rgb= 24,174, 23 hsv=119.60,0.87,0.68 hsl=119.60,0.77,0.39
    well#69 index 68 rgb=126,168,126 hsv=120.00,0.25,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.19,0.58
    well#70 index 69 rgb=149,166,149 hsv=120.00,0.10,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.09,0.62
    well#71 index 70 rgb= 27,174, 26 hsv=119.59,0.85,0.68 hsl=119.59,0.74,0.39
    well#72 index 71 rgb= 96,170, 96 hsv=120.00,0.44,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.30,0.52
    well#73 index 72 rgb= 17,174, 16 hsv=119.62,0.91,0.68 hsl=119.62,0.83,0.37
    well#74 index 73 rgb= 4,175, 3 hsv=119.65,0.98,0.69 hsl=119.65,0.97,0.35
    well#75 index 74 rgb=162,165,162 hsv=120.00,0.02,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.02,0.64
    well#76 index 75 rgb= 27,174, 26 hsv=119.59,0.85,0.68 hsl=119.59,0.74,0.39
    well#77 index 76 rgb=123,169,123 hsv=120.00,0.27,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.21,0.57
    well#78 index 77 rgb= 21,175, 20 hsv=119.61,0.89,0.69 hsl=119.61,0.79,0.38
    well#79 index 78 rgb= 51,173, 50 hsv=119.51,0.71,0.68 hsl=119.51,0.55,0.44
    well#80 index 79 rgb= 99,169, 99 hsv=120.00,0.41,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.29,0.53
    well#81 index 80 rgb= 24,174, 23 hsv=119.60,0.87,0.68 hsl=119.60,0.77,0.39
    well#82 index 81 rgb= 93,170, 93 hsv=120.00,0.45,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.31,0.52
    well#83 index 82 rgb=136,167,136 hsv=120.00,0.19,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.15,0.59
    well#84 index 83 rgb=149,166,149 hsv=120.00,0.10,0.65 hsl=120.00,0.09,0.62
    well#85 index 84 rgb=119,168,119 hsv=120.00,0.29,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.22,0.56
    well#86 index 85 rgb= 27,174, 26 hsv=119.59,0.85,0.68 hsl=119.59,0.74,0.39
    well#87 index 86 rgb= 51,173, 50 hsv=119.51,0.71,0.68 hsl=119.51,0.55,0.44
    well#88 index 87 rgb= 38,174, 37 hsv=119.56,0.79,0.68 hsl=119.56,0.65,0.41
    well#89 index 88 rgb= 51,173, 50 hsv=119.51,0.71,0.68 hsl=119.51,0.55,0.44
    well#90 index 89 rgb=103,169,103 hsv=120.00,0.39,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.28,0.53
    well#91 index 90 rgb= 14,175, 13 hsv=119.63,0.93,0.69 hsl=119.63,0.86,0.37
    well#92 index 91 rgb= 83,171, 83 hsv=120.00,0.51,0.67 hsl=120.00,0.35,0.50
    well#93 index 92 rgb=116,168,116 hsv=120.00,0.31,0.66 hsl=120.00,0.23,0.56
    well#94 index 93 rgb= 38,174, 37 hsv=119.56,0.79,0.68 hsl=119.56,0.65,0.41
    well#95 index 94 rgb= 57,172, 56 hsv=119.48,0.67,0.67 hsl=119.48,0.51,0.45
    well#96 index 95 rgb= 41,173, 40 hsv=119.55,0.77,0.68 hsl=119.55,0.62,0.42

  2. JonathanCline says:

    New contest clues!

    Clue 8: Only even numbered transparencies are allowed.

    Clue 9: Reading is on a diagonal.