For over twenty years, a coded sculpture in the grounds of the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia has remained undeciphered. The sculpture, named Kryptos by its creator Jim Sandborn and installed in 1990, is a copper screen covered in 1,800 letters. The script is composed of four panels. The first three panels, shown below, were solved by 1998 (the spelling mistakes are intentional).
BETWEEN SUBTLE SHADING AND THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT LIES THE NUANCE OF IQLUSION
Part 2 (The coordinates identify a location about 60 metres from the sculpture):
IT WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE HOWS THAT POSSIBLE ? THEY USED THE EARTHS MAGNETIC FIELD X THE INFORMATION WAS GATHERED AND TRANSMITTED UNDERGRUUND TO AN UNKNOWN LOCATION X DOES LANGLEY KNOW ABOUT THIS ? THEY SHOULD ITS BURIED OUT THERE SOMEWHERE X WHO KNOWS THE EXACT LOCATION ? ONLY WW 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 X LAYER TWO
Part 3 (This is an altered quotation from archaeologist Howard Carter’s book The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen):
SLOWLY DESPARATLY 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 (?)
Despite the attentions of some of the world’s greatest cryptographers, the fourth section remains unsolved. If you’d like to try your luck, you can find it here.
In 1994, a billboard containing the message below appeared in Silicon Valley.
The solution provided the password to a third website – a recruiting page for Google, with this message:
One thing we’ve learned while building Google is that it’s easier to find what you’re looking for if it comes looking for you . . . As you can imagine, we get many, many resumes every day, so we developed this little process to increase the signal-to-noise ratio.