The Kryptos sculpture, located at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia, has been a mystery for 30 years. It was created by artist Jim Sanborn and consists of several copper plates with coded text carved into them.
The sculpture was installed in 1990 and has been the subject of numerous attempts to decode it. In 1999, Sanborn revealed that there were four parts to the code and that he had provided a clue to solving the first part of the puzzle.
Despite the clue, it took 19 years for the first part of the code to be solved. In 2018, a team of cryptologists led by Elonka Dunin cracked the first part of the code, which consisted of 64 characters.
The first part of the code reads: «BETWEEN SUBTLE SHADING AND THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT LIES THE NUANCE OF IQLUSION.» The phrase is a play on words, with «iqlusion» representing both «illusion» and «IQ.»
Dunin and her team used a combination of code breaking techniques, including frequency analysis and guessing possible key words. They also created computer programs to help narrow down the possible solutions.
The solution to the first part of the code provided a clue to the second part, which has yet to be solved. The clue reads: «IT WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE. HOW’S 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 BURN BAGS THE WHOLE DAMN PLACE DOWN. X BURN THE TAPES…»
The Kryptos sculpture remains a mystery, with the second, third, and fourth parts of the code still unsolved. However, the partial solution to the first part shows that it is possible to crack the code, and may provide clues for future code breakers to solve the remaining parts.