Friday, November 10, 2006

Series A Enigma Solved!

This past weekend, two friends from opposite coasts solved and then collected the Series A treasure. David Hutz, a Virginia resident who is quickly establishing quite a reputation as a treasure-hunter, cracked the difficult Series A code using a combination of computer programs and good old-fashioned research. Prior to analyzing the code, his quest for riddle answers led him to the library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Once he deciphered the message, he enlisted the help of his friend Scott Wiltermuth, who is a Ph.D candidate in organizational behavior at Stanford. Scott headed off into the hills with his treasure map in tow, and emerged later that day brandishing a replica of a Scottish targe (shield) and a large shovel. Needless to say, the hikers he encountered gave him a wide berth.

David previously won Volvo's treasure hunt, which involved locating (yes, it's true) a buried Volvo. Now he can add a Scottish targe and $1,000 to his collection.

For your viewing pleasure, I've attached a picture of Dave and his wife, as well as a picture of the targe, which was created by a master artisan in Great Britain.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The World's Longest Poem

I've always appreciated creativity, but our members have truly out-done themselves. They've decided to write the world's longest poem, which at the moment appears to be taking the shape of an epic journey. I hope others with join and contribute to the cause. It will take some time to break the current record for the world's longest poem, but I believe it can be done.

The points system has also been revamped so that members can garner points for solving riddles. In the past, the riddles were a critical part of the enigmas, but solving them didn't contribute to a member's status. In addition, members now receive points simply for posting. While our forum is lively, we're always looking for new participants.

Friday, August 18, 2006

New Features

I apologize for the long silence. We've been working like crazy on a new release of Trumalia that contains several new features. Of course, we didn't alter the enigmas portion of the site. Users are encouraged continue solving riddles and cracking codes just as they did before!

The biggest change to Trumalia is a new log-in/point system which allows members to accumulate points by correctly answering challenging questions (more than 2,000 are currently loaded) about art and the history of science. The questions are inserted in the first page of search results for select searches. Statistically, there is a 1 in 10 chance of receiving a link to a question each time a search is performed. For more information about the point scheme and how it works, please visit the Trumalia Points page. Everything about Trumalia is intended to keep our users thinking, and I hope that our new series of questions accomplishes this goal. Members are also welcome to suggest topics for new questions.

Another new feature is the Trumalia forum. Members can discuss the Trumalia enigmas, or chat about contemporary art, books, current events, or anything else on their mind. While I initially had trouble deciding whether to allow political discussions on Trumalia, I have always believed that open debate is healthy, and I'm confident that members will benefit from the opportunity to share different viewpoints.

The Trumalia toolbar is another feature that we've created for the convenience of our members. The toolbar makes obtaining search results quickly much more convenient, and it also allows users to search either bookmarked sites or the site that's currently being viewed. In addition, our toolbar is fully compatible with the Trumalia points scheme.

I hope you enjoy our new site!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Series B Enigma Solved

This past Friday, Josh Kammer and his father, Mark Kammer, endured the blazing heat of the Anza Borrego Desert and retrieved an antique Nepalese shield. To get there, they flew to San Diego from Bulverde, Texas, then made the journey across the mountains to the parched desert floor. To uncover the location of the shield, Josh first solved over 130 riddles from Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and then cracked a difficult cipher. Josh is an engineering student from Texas A&M college.

The Series B Enigma has been cracked. Congratulations to Josh! Three more enigmas remain unsolved. Happy deciphering!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Small but Mighty

I can proudly write that we are small but growing every day. Faithful users of Trumalia, I thank you! New users are steadily finding our site, but we can always use your help spreading the world. We just received a shipment of some very cool weather-proof Trumalia stickers. If you would like to receive some, please send me an email, and I'll ship you a handful. Also, those of you who are enjoying cracking the enigmas, please stick around for your daily searches as well. As you know, we're funding our jackpot with revenue from our site!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Source of Inspiration

The Beale ciphers remain one of the most perplexing mysteries in the world of codebreaking. In 1817, Thomas Beale and twenty-nine other hardy souls set out on a journey across the United States. After crossing the Great Plains, Beale discovered gold north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. He mined the site for more than a year before deciding that he needed to hide his treasure trove.

Beale struck up a friendship with Robert Morriss, the proprietor of a hotel in Lynchburg, Virginia. Before journeying west again, he entrusted Morriss with the contents of a locked box, which he said contained papers of great value. Beale disappeared forever, and eventually Morriss's curiosity overwhelmed him. Morriss opened the box and found a note in English and three sheets that contained nothing but numbers. The note indicated that the key to deciphering the sheets would be sent via post by another party. The key never arrived.

Morriss spent next twenty years trying in vain to crack the ciphers. At age 88, understanding that his life was coming to an end, he explained the existence of the ciphers to a friend, who subsequently published a pamphlet explaining the mystery. This same friend cracked the second cipher by matching each number with the first letter of a word in the Declaration of Independence. The resulting message placed the value of the hidden treasure at nearly $20 million in today's dollars. The remaining ciphers would purportedly reveal the location of the treasure.

The Beale ciphers have occupied some of the best minds in cryptography over the last century. Carl Hammer, a pioneer of computerized codebreaking, stated that the Beale ciphers have occupied 10% of the best crytanalytic minds in the country. Needless to say, hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of man-hours have been spent trying to crack the remaining ciphers -- all to no avail. Many have speculated that the Beale ciphers are a hoax, but others continue to try their hand at breaking the ciphers.

The good news: The Trumalia enigmas are quite solvable. It will be extremely difficult to decode all four enigmas... but I can assure you that it is possible.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Anatomy of a Riddle

Some of the riddles on are quite tough. In many cases, more than one answer seems to fit perfectly. Other riddles will leave you staring at the screen, mouth agape, wondering who could have dreamed up such an obscure conundrum. Some riddles are quite wordy and descriptive, while others make a haiku seem lengthy.

Here's my first piece of advice: pay attention to the search results that surround the riddle. The prompts that lead to hidden riddles are picked for a reason. For instance, if you locate a traditional Bantu riddle amidst the results for the word "Kikuyu," you don't need to waste your time trying "horse," "bell," "sword," "loom" or other words that might be associated with other cultures. Instead, try to imagine yourself in the place of a Kikuyu several centuries ago. While "glasses" not be a good answer to riddle, "eyes" might be a reasonable solution.

My second hint: certain riddle solutions seem to pop up across many different cultures and centuries. The favorite, by a significant margin: "egg." References to these little treasures can be found everywhere, from the plains of Mongolia, to the African savannah, to 14th Century England. Other favorites are "stars", "moon", "shadow", and "teeth." I could go on and on, but I don't want to give too much away.