SETI Hacker student <?> exercise    updated November 29, 2005  D. Carrigan carrigan@fnal.gov (subject line must be sensible) 

(My SETI interest is not funded by Fermilab or the U. S. Department of Energy. This portion of the site is needed to illustrate other interconnections related to Fermilab.)
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SETI Hacker

The challenge

The material below is code. Can you deconvolute this and tell what is going on?

The answer

What is the point:

If a SETI message is received, it will have to be untangled. The language of computing,  ARITHMETIC,  is probably quite prevalent wherever  computing is done. (For a possible counter example think about DNA in nature).  ARITHMETIC is a possible Rosetta Stone for  interculture  transmission.

If deconvolution is easy, it is more straightforward to read signals. On the other hand, it implies that a transmitted decoder could more easily deconvolute the host computer and the associated code.

The code

40 1F K5 F
42 8L 51 1F
10 1F SJ F
40 2F 50 F
L5 1F 66 2F
S5 F L0 2F
10 1F 36 8L
L4 2F 26 3L
L5 2F 22 F

Scoring

I have no idea how a bright (dumb) high school senior, a professor in a major university computing department, or a good EXCEL user would do. If you are articulate and concise let me know how long it takes you to deconvolute this and give me a short precis on your background and how you found the answer.

For extra credit

You have found what this code does. Outline the steps from this to the way the same problem is treated in EXCEL or LINUX. What have been the technology challenges? And for early admission to a prestigious place, extrapolate these developments for the next fifty (or one million) years. Ground your answer in real science, mathematics, and experience with technology, not the last sci-fi movie you saw.