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Hamilton Public Library’s Local History & Archives recently received a donation of a battered old journal, written by a Victorian gentleman, Dr. Tiberius Hess. He writes of life in Hamilton from 1854-60. He also describes a time machine he built, governed by strange nautilus gears and powered by electricity and steam. Hess writes that he used the device to travel to present day Hamilton where he hid a set of the gears. He also crafted a set of six clue sets that are part of the journal; the cryptic clues reveal where he hid the gears. We think we’ve determined how Hess intends the clues to be unravelled. If you solve them and deduce the gears’ location, you could win a remarkable prize. More on that soon.
Read more on what we’ve determined about the clues thus far.
There are six sets of clues, each one spread over two pages. The clues send you on a geographic hunt, beginning with Tiberius Hess’ home located in downtown Hamilton of 1860. Solving each set of clues lets you to piece together latitude and longitude offsets. At each location, you will discover a new detail that will help you crack the cipher at the end of that clue set. The solution to the cipher produces two digits of the ultimate latitude and longitude of the hidden treasure.
The clues are varied: some clues involve simple geometry or math problems, while others require literary knowledge or research. Certain clues call on your logical reasoning and science trivia.
This is a contest you’re meant to play and share with others. Visit the discussion forum on hpl.ca/gears to share your discoveries and suggestions. You’re not alone. Collaborate, tease and learn from other players. Collaborate and talk to friends, family, classmates, coworkers, etc.
Playing the game involves collaboration, research, exploration and problem-solving. This contest was designed to get you out into the city to explore landmarks and historic sites. Get ready: the adventure starts now!
A geographic offset is the difference between two latitude and longitude reference points that is used to locate a specific place on a map.
Dr. Tiberius Hess starts the treasure hunt at the latitude and longitude of his home on Gore St. (now Wilson St.) between John and Hughson: 43.258915, -79.865911 Enter these coordinates into Google Maps and see for yourself!
The clues rely heavily on offsets from latitudes and longitudes, which are rounded to six decimal places. Since Hess only visited the Hamilton area, he had no need for the pre-decimal part of the coordinates (43 and -79) because they never change over the span of his travels.
Suppose you had to travel from the home of Dr. Hess on Gore St. (now Wilson St.) between John and Hughson to the corner of Parkdale Avenue North and Nikola Tesla Blvd. Hess’ home: 43.258915, -79.865911 Corner of Parkdale Ave and Nikola Tesla: 43.256123, -79.782801
Remember to round the numbers to six decimal places! Subtract the latitude and longitude co-ordinates of Hess’s home on Gore St. with the latitude and longitude coordinates of the Parkdale Ave and Nikola Tesla address to get the offsets.
The point of solving a clue set is to fill the grid and figure out the offsets.
Each set of clues is made up of an empty offset grid and a series of cryptic clues. Solve the clues, add numbers to the grid and get the offset to an important destination.
In his journal, Dr. Tiberius Hess places two numbers to the right of the offset grid. We believe this is his version of what is called a “check sum”. While the numbers don’t give any indication of the actual offsets, they are hints that show you you’re on the right track. If the numbers you place in the offset grids don’t add up to the check sum digits, you’ve probably made an error somewhere.
The clue set is encrypted using a keyed Caesar cipher. Here’s how it works: Let’s pretend one location is William Osler Elementary School in Dundas. Hess tells us to use a particular word from the location as a key to the cipher. In this case, let’s say the word is OSLER.
Take a standard alphabet: ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
You create the keyed cipher alphabet by starting an alphabet with the letters from the key word (removing repeated letters). Complete that keyed alphabet without repeating any letters already used in the key until you get 26 letters.
NUMBER OF SNOW WHITE’S DWARVES PLUS THREE The answer is 7+3=10
If this were a real clue, the digits 1 and 0 would figure in the final latitude and longitude of the nautilus gears’ resting place. Remember to keep track of those digit pairs and which Clue Set they belong to! When you solve all six clue sets, you’ll have enough digits to find the prize.
Start at the corner of Parkdale Ave. North and Nikola Tesla Blvd. 43.256123, -79.782801
Clue #1 The number of ounces in a pint (16) Place the two digits of the answer in cells C and K. After Clue #1 the grid would look like:
Clue #2 The year “Meet the Beatles!” was released. (1964) Place the four digits of the answer in cells D, F, I and J After Clue #2 the grid would look like:
Clue #3 The year Sir Allan Napier McNab was born (1798) minus 600, or 1198. Place the four digits of the answer in E,G,H and L After Clue #3 the offset grid looks like this – and is complete!
Now that you’ve solved the clues, you need to get the offset. Our original point was: 43.256123, -79.782801
Apply the offsets (ignoring 43. And -79.) 256123 + 1119 = 257242 782801 + 196468 = 979269
So, the new destination is: 43.257242, -79.979269 Put these coordinates into Google Maps and you get William Osler Elementary School in Dundas.