ORACULUM RIDDLE

It is what lies in the darkness,

not what you see.

If ALPHA equals 16641131,

and OMEGA equals 15841251,

half of their sum

will lead you to me.

After many years, this was solved by John Lumley. It's not easy to solve, and it's certainly not easy to explain, but I'll do my best to explain it now.

With just a bit of looking, it’s easy to see that the number sequences represent the number of dark squares in each row, from the top of each chart down.

If you overlay the two charts, two things should have stood out.

Differences and similarities.

Differences are positions which on one chart have nothing, and on the other chart have something. In other words, a position where, of the two overlaid squares, you have one of each: dark and light. Alpha and omega. Empty and full.

Similarities, on the other hand, are positions with either overlapping filled squares or overlapping empty squares. The correct path was to follow the overlapping empty squares. You may have had to try both to submit the answer to me.

If you do that, you’ll find that the differences, or positions which have something on one chart and nothing on the other, form a sequence if looked at from each row. The top row on both charts is identical, so the sequence begins with 0. Working your way down, row by row, the sequence would be 05422122.

The similarities, following the same logic, would be 13530130.

John marked the differences with red and the similarities with black, starting with each row. Then, he added the numbers at the top row together to form a total.

Looking at the reds, you’ll see the first one is a zero. The next is under the number four. Then we add three, then one, and so on. Until we get a total: eleven.

Doing this again with the blacks, we get another total: twelve.

Eleven. Twelve.

A date, perhaps?

Many months earlier, John emailed me and asked me for my birthday. I didn’t question it, but I knew he was onto something. I was born on the twelfth of November. Later that year, he finally cracked it.