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COSMIC CODE

Computers are essential tools in the efforts to collect and analyze new data about gamma-ray bursts. The language that a computer speaks is binary numbers. When you type the letters d-o-g on the keyboard the computer does not see a d, an o, or a g. The computer interprets it as a series of ones and zeroes. Binary numbers are based on the base-2 system as opposed to the base-10 system with which we work on a daily basis. Units in the base-10 system are labeled ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, etc. Base-2 units are labeled one, two, four, eight, sixteen, etc. Look at the chart below. The base-10 numbers 8, 28, 50, and 129 have been written in base-2 for you.

 

512

(29)

256

(28)

128

(27)

64

(26)

32

(25)

16

(24)

8

(23)

4

(22)

2

(21)

1

(20)

8

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

28

0

0

0

0

0

1

1

1

0

0

50

0

0

0

0

1

1

0

0

1

0

129

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

The next column in the chart would be the units 1024, then 2048, then 4096, and so on.

Below is a coded message. Use the decoder to crack the binary code and translate the gamma-ray fact. The message is displayed from left to right horizontally. Here is an example of how to use the decoder:

000100 = 4 = d

001111 = 15 = o

000111 = 7 = g

Divide the class into groups. Cut the message into horizontal strips and distribute one strip to each group. Have each group decode their part of the message. Once they have decoded their strip, have them place their work on the board. The pieces of the decoded message must then be put in the proper order to reveal the gamma-ray fact.

 

COSMIC CODE MESSAGE DECODER

1 = A 18 = R

2 = B19 = S

3 = C20 = T

4 = D21 = U

5 = E22 = V

6 = F23 = W

7 = G24 = X

8 = H25 = Y

9 = I26 = Z

10 = J27 = 1

11 = K28 = 2

12 = L29 = 3

13 = M30 = 4

14 = N31 = 5

15 = O32 = .

16 = P33 = ,

17 = Q34 = !

 

COSMIC CODE MESSAGE

000111

000001

010100

010100

000101

010010

000111

001000

000101

000001

011001

010011

001001

010011

000101

000011

100000

 

000001

011001

001000

000101

010100

001101

001000

000101

010010

001101

000010

010111

010010

000011

000100

001001

001101

010011

000101

001110

001001

001111

010100

010101

010011

001101

10101

000101

010011

001111

000010

000100

001101

000001

001101

000101

000011

000110

001001

001110

000101

000001

010010

010010

010100

010110

011001

000101

000001

010010

001111

010010

000110

001100

001110

001001

100010

010010

010011

000101

000100

000101

000001

001110

010010

000101

010011

000111

001111

001001

010100

010110

000111

000001

010100

000110

001001

010010

000011

010100

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Imagine the Universe! is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
Curator: Meredith Gibb
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2014.
This page last updated: Thursday, 21-Nov-2002 12:11:31 EST