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Crack the crypto on the CIA Sculpture

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TECSEC, like Secure Computing and many others, believes it is well positioned to ride the market surge. The key will be combining a variety of security techniques from its own R&D labs and from other companies -- access control, user authentication, encryption -- and putting them into a cheap, relatively user-friendly package. Certainly, the company boasts the proper pedigree. Its founder, Ed Scheidt, is also the creator of the Cryptos statue that sits in front of CIA headquarters -- a statue etched with an encrypted message by Scheidt that has yet to be cracked.
CBS Evening News for Friday, Apr 05, 1991


Headline: CIA / Sculpture

Abstract: (Studio: Mike Wallace) Report introduced.

(CIA: Rita Braver) Cryptos sculpture, commissioned for CIA headquarters, featured; sculptor Jim Sanborn noted revealing coded message only to CIA director William Webster; scenes shown. [sANBORN, CIA officer Peter EARNEST - comment on puzzle.]

The statue Cryptos at the CIA building for instance

has a coded message on it that has never been broken. But if may fall under

the one-time pad category. No one knows and the creator won't say.

For 15 years, a bronze sculpture in the CIA's courtyard has taunted amateur and professional code-breakers alike. Kryptos is a copper wall that features four long coded passages. Cryptographers from the National Security Administration and the CIA have cracked the first three.

But it's been six years since anyone reported progress, and sculptor Jim Sanborn claims to be the only man alive who knows the solution. Meanwhile, thriller writer Dan Brown is stoking interest: The dust jacket for his The Da Vinci Code featured clues hinting at Kryptos's significance, and Brown has suggested his next novel may somehow feature it.

Around the world, fans of puzzles and codes are racing to solve Kryptos. A Yahoo discussion group devoted to the puzzle, now boasting 500 members, is growing.

All Things Considered, August 26, 1999 · Linda reports on the deciphering of an unusual sort of CIA code -- a secret message built into Kryptos, a sculptured fountain at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The code was cut into a copper scroll by the sculptor, James Sanborn, and remained unsolved for eight years. Parts of the code have now been broken by David Stein, a Senior Analyst at the CIA. But the last 97 characters still remain a mystery.
The Fourth Passage

The significance of the initial question-mark character -- as a beginning or a spacer -- is hotly debated by Kryptos sleuths.






Note:There are no breaks in the sequence.



I guess I have to wait until I get a reply before I can post the solution to the first part. It keeps placing me inside this first post.

Edited by Lee Forman
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Checking those coordinates (38 57 6.5 N, 77 8 44 W) via one of the online mapping services such as Mapquest, Terraserver or Topozone, it obviously points to the general area of CIA Headquarters in Virginia, though the different maps disagree as to the exact location (plus of course it's very hard to see something at that level of detail). Of particular interest to me is the "6.5 seconds" resolution of the north latitude, since this "tenth of a second" resolution narrows a location down to a very specific area (maybe 10-50 feet across).

There'd been some speculation that the coordinates pointed to the exact location of the Kryptos sculpture itself. By my own calculations with a GPS though (granted, it's a cheap GPS which may have its own accuracy errors built in), the coordinates point to an area about 150' southeast of the sculpture. This was in another courtyard on the other side of a walkway, and I couldn't get into that courtyard because there was a sign saying "emergency exit only". Looking through the windows though, I saw a courtyard with another walkway, some more landscaped areas, and, right where I thought "x marks the spot" might be, I saw an area with a tree and, of most interest, a manhole cover.

At the base of the Kryptos sculpture itself is a round pool with a built-in fountain/pump, forcing water in a circular motion around the pool. I couldn't see into the pool because the water was too murky. As sheer speculation though, what I'm wondering, is whether the manhole cover might lead to some utility tunnels underneath the courtyard, perhaps even to the location of the pump that controls the fountain. There might be another clue or message near that "undergruund" pump.

It is of course impossible for me to explore down that utility tunnel, and probably just as unlikely for any of the agency's analysts to go down there. I'm hoping though that someone there might befriend one of the maintenance staff who *can* go down there, and see if there's anything interesting!


I find this interesting. Apparently the first 3 parts have been possibly deciphered, although the maker has admitted an error, and has corrected part of the solution - ID BY ROWS is now LAYER TWO - something like that. The final part of the crypto can only be solved on the basis of an accurate decoding of the first three parts. Then there are a multitude of other encoded clues scattered about the area - all using different forms of code - even morse. Wonder if anyone will crack it this year - and what it might lead to.

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Actually, this is pretty interesting to me.

However, it sounds a lot like the movie "National Treasure". :ice

Hi Trent!

Yes - it's a bit much - but hopefully better than that movie, and the horrific rendering of the Da Vinci Code [could you shake the camera a few more times Opie?]. However, I guess what I am wondering is what is at the end. Is it something to do with the discovery of some form of technology that creates invisibility? I didn't provide the full translation - the next piece appears to be a rendition of the original tomb raiders in the valley of kings. It's there in one of the links. It would be great to have the time [and skill] to be able to work it all out.

- lee

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