The creator of Krytpos – a sculpture found on the grounds of the CIA and one of the more famous unsolved puzzles in the world – has revealed a clue, supposedly the last one, to prod enthusiasts into solving the object’s message.
The sculpture, dedicated in 1990, has four encrypted messages. Three of these have been decrypted in the 1990s by separate individuals and groups, including those in the CIA and NSA. A copy of the encrypted messages can be found here; an interactive one can be found here.
This is the “final” clue: Northeast. “Final” because there were two earlier clues, in 2010 and 2014; no doubt, those were also referred to as “the one and only clue” or “the final clue” as well. So, it seems likely that another clue will be dropped if the message remains uncracked for a while after this third one was revealed.
On the other hand, the author is no spring chicken. Now 74, the sculptor appears to be a little worried that his artwork will remain undeciphered before he passes. Of course, he does have planned a way “to have this ‘system’ survive [his] death.” But still, what artist does not want to see the kind of mark his art has made when it has been interpreted as it should be?
It’s A Riddle, Wrapped In A Mystery, That’s In an Enigma, Placed In a Puzzle…
Why is the last encrypted message so hard to crack? Apparently, it is the shortest of the four messages. The shorter the message, the greater the chances that your solution is the wrong one. For example, consider the following encrypted five-letter word:
Right off the bat, you know it can’t be a one-to-one substitution because the English language does not allow for three sequentially identical letters in a word. So, there must be a more sophisticated encryption algorithm at play here.
However, there are (according to Google) 12,478 five-letter words in the English language. With such a short mystery message, there’s a one-in-12,477 chance that your solution is the wrong one, even if it reveals an actual English word: your solution might point to the word being “while” but someone else’s points to being “fakes.” Both are real words so which one is the right one? Perhaps they’re both wrong.
Case in point: even with the revelation of the three clues, the last Kryptos message has posed challenges for enthusiasts all over the world – there’s even word that it may never be cracked.
The longer the message, the higher the chances that you’ll stumble upon the correct solution, if you do find a key that turns all the gobbledygook into words that make sense.
But even then, solving the last message is only the beginning. The sculptor has let the world know for a long time now that the encrypted contents form a riddle.