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How To Decode Futurama’s Two Alien Languages


Of course, “Futurama” fans solved AL2 as well, but the whole cipher wouldn’t be provided until “Bender’s Big Score,” released in 2007. It wasn’t even included on screen. It was one of the many Easter eggs hidden on the disc. Prior to that, “Futurama” fans knew that AL2 was a mathematical code, but it required more information to translate entirely. Once all the information was out there, everyone was able to solve it. 

On the DVD commentary track, Westbrook, both the episode’s writer and inventor of AL2, pointed to the building pictured above, and the eerie writing seen emblazoned on it. He said: 

“Those two obelisks you see briefly at the start of the shot are actually Rosetta Stones for the two alien languages that we have in the show that encode real English sentences. And some of the guys on the internet used those to decode the second alien language, which was quite a feat. Kudos to those guys.”

It was Cohen who pointed out that AL2 was not constructed using a trick of linguistics, but of very simple mathematical coding, the type that would be easily decoded by any holder of a major degree in computer science … which Westbrook holds. Cohen added: 

“I want to point out that Jeff Westbrook, who wrote this, has a PhD in computer science. He’s sitting here before us. And so using not very many of those skills from graduate school, but just the simplest things you would use as a computer scientist, he designed the second alien language. The first one is a simple replacement as you all know: ‘A’ is a symbol, ‘B’ is a symbol. The second one, what type of code is that?” 

It is, of course, a modular addition code.

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