“Our work is about discovery — discovering secrets,” said Toni Hiley, director of the C.I.A. Museum. “And this sculpture is full of them, and it still hasn’t given up the last of its secrets.” [The New York Times]
In 1999 three of the sculpture’s four sections were confirmed solved by computer scientist and amateur code-breaker James Gillogly. They contain historical references and cryptic sayings. Twenty years later, the remaining section, 97 characters long, is still unsolved.
And Jim Sanborn, the sculptor who created “Kryptos” and its puzzles, is getting a bit frustrated by the wait. “I assumed the code would be cracked in a fairly short time,” he said, adding that the intrusions on his life from people who think they have solved his fourth puzzle are more than he expected. [The New York Times]
To help the obsessed along in their search, Sanborn told the New York Times the solution to six letters of the final section: letters 64 though 69 spell the world BERLIN.
“The ‘Berlin’ clue makes a lot of sense, in historical context of the Berlin Wall coming down that year,” says code cracker Elonka Dunin, a game designer who moderates [a popular Kryptos] Yahoo Group and maintains a comprehensive web site on Kryptos. [Wired.com]
The sculpture was installed 20 years ago at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia; Sanborn created the artwork with the help of CIA cryptographer Ed Scheidt. It consists of a curved copper sheet engraved with letters, surrounded by large rocks and a pool of water. Since its installation, the sculpture has not only fascinated crypto-nerds in basements but also crept into popular culture; Dan Brown included two references to the sculpture in the dust jacket for The DaVinci Code, and included it in the plot of his latest book, The Lost Symbol.
While he is getting eager for the solution to the fourth section to come to light, Sanborn admits it’s not the end. The other three sections contain clues to solving the fourth section, but then the four sections as a whole come together as one final riddle within a riddle. One of the sections even references a GPS location across the courtyard, and talk about something buried “undergruund.”
“In part of the code that’s been deciphered, I refer to an act that took place when I was at the agency and a location that’s on the ground of the agency,” Sanborn said during a 2005 interview with Wired.com. “So in order to find that place, you have to decipher the piece and then go to the agency and find that place.” [Wired.com]
Sadly, since 9-11 visitors have not been allowed onto CIA grounds to view the statue, though Kryptos-ers have gotten a hold of satellite pictures and pinpointed the area.
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Image: Wikimedia/Jim Sanborn