Saturday, January 07, 2006
P.S.: It's as simple as ABC
Designed by Washington, D.C. artist James Sanborn, and encrypted with the assistance of Ed Scheidt, known as the "Wizard of Codes," Kryptos is a sculpture located on the grounds of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Installed in 1990, its thousands of characters contain encrypted messages, of which three have been solved (so far). There is still a fourth section at the bottom consisting of 97 or 98 characters which remains uncracked, and is considered to be one of the most famous unsolved codes in the world. Kryptos is composed of several sections. The most famous is a wavy copper screen covered with about 1800 encrypted characters, next to a petrified tree, a gently rippling circular pool, and various types of rocks. Other pieces include several large slabs of granite with sandwiched sheets of copper with Morse code messages, a landscaped area with granite slabs and a duck pond, and an engraved compass with a needle pointing at a lodestone.
The First Passage (K1) has been decoded to say: BETWEEN SUBTLE SHADING AND THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT LIES THE NUANCE OF IQLUSION.
The Second Passage (K2): IT WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE. HOW'S THAT POSSIBLE? THEY USED THE EARTH'S MAGNETIC FIELD. X THE INFORMATION WAS GATHERED AND TRANSMITTED UNDERGRUUND TO AN UNKNOWN LOCATION. X DOES LANGLEY KNOW ABOUT THIS? THEY SHOULD. IT'S BURIED OUT THERE SOMEWHERE. X WHO KNOWS THE EXACT LOCATION? ONLY W.W. THIS WAS HIS LAST MESSAGE. X THIRTY-EIGHT DEGREES FIFTY-SEVEN MINUTES SIX POINT FIVE SECONDS NORTH SEVENTY-SEVEN DEGREES EIGHT MINUTES FORTY-FOUR SECONDS WEST ID BY ROWS.
The latitude and longitude points to an area within the CIA compound, but not to the sculpture itself.
The Third Passage (K3): Slowly, desperatly slowly, the remains of passage debris that encumbered the lower part of the doorway was removed. With trembling hands I made a tiny breach in the upper left-hand corner, and then widening the hole a little I inserted the candle and peered in. The hot air escaping from the chamber caused the flame to flicker, but presently details of the room within emerged from the mist. X Can you see anything Q?
The Third Passage is an abridged and misspelled quotation from Howard Carter's diary entry of November 26, 1922, describing the opening of King Tutankhamun's tomb in Egypt. It was reprinted in his 1923 book 'The Tomb of Tutankhamun.' The question with which it ends is that posed by Lord Carnarvon, to which Carter famously replied "wonderful things."
The Fourth Passage consists of 97 or 98 characters, and has not yet been decoded.
The phrase "P.S.: It's as simple as ABC" is an anagram made from the two keywords PALIMPSEST and ABSCISSA.
For more information on Kryptos, check out Wikipedia.