In Canberra, Australia, there is a set of eight steel pillars bearing encrypted inscriptions. So far, they have not received much attention in the codebreaking community. Some of the cryptograms are still unsolved.

Most readers of this bog certainly know Kryptos, …

Elonka Dunin (used with permission)

… a sculpture located at the CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. Kryptos bears an encrypted inscription, a part of which is still unsolved. There are a few other pieces of modern art that include ciphertext – for instance, the Cyrillic projector, …

Klaus Schmeh

… the Cheltenham Listening Stones, …

Klaus Schmeh

… and Andy Bauch’s Lego Bitcoin installations.

Andy Bauch Studio, Los Angeles (used with permission)

 

NKRYPT

Richard Bean, who recently solved two crypto mysteries that had baffled cryptanalysts for decades, has made me aware of another sculpture collection bearing encrypted inscriptions: NKRYPT.

NKRYPT is an installation outside the Questacon science and technology centre in Canberra, Australia. It was designed by Stuart Kohlhagen and installed in March 2013.

The Questacon website describes NKRYPT as “eight stainless steel pillars covered in letters, numbers or symbols, creating eight encrypted messages for you to decipher”. This site also shows a few photographs of the sculptures. I have asked for permission to use these, but I never received a reply. So, to my regret, I can’t provide any photographs of NKRYPT in this post.

NKRYPT joins other outdoor exhibits in the area around Questacon. The messages are laser-cut into the steel poles. The challenges are all discrete but interlinked, and solving one may provide a clue to solving others. Some ciphertexts are intended to be quickly broken, others are more challenging. The final cryptogram can be deciphered with a key that emerges from the solution of all the others.

The Questacon website states: “To date only about one-fifth of NKRYPT’s codes have been deciphered [this information might be outdated, KS], and not all of the mysteries revealed in these decoded messages have been solved.”

 

NKRYPT fan pages

I found two fan websites decicated to NKRYPT and the crypto puzzles connected to it. First, there is DKRYPT.

DKRYPT provides detailed information about all the sculptures, including transcriptions and solutions (if known). The author of DCRYPT appears to be a private person who doesn’t reveal his or her name.

A similar page is simply titled NKRYPT sculpture.

Again, this page seems to be a private fan project. I don’t know who operates this page.

 

A look at pillar 5

Let’s now look at an example. Pillar 5 of the NKRYPT collection (the “NKRYPT sculpture” page calls it “G”) appears to be one that hasn’t been solved yet. It bears two inscriptions (DKRYPT also mentions a third one at the bottom of it, which we will ignore here). The first one uses an alphabet of four symbols. It can be transcribed as follows:

14441144144414134324224143
13121142233212222111311123
34334422412123231413111423
32432113434332114214424432
41412411141414314314334412
21343424122111312144443221
21414444343123423143341422
42212232132431333222233143
11111414133114312324241124
21441222313431443213443432

Here’s the second message (the lines have various offsets and spacing, with the overall pattern resembling a helix or a sine wave):

UWGHTLIYCOEYDY
RFKVOACMHPUCEAL
BANYUJHEESHABPS
NAYIDQGILTIVKTE
FAESOKTMZQDMRGH
HYLHNICNLBNWWXX
KGAPYHIIQHSKETZ
RRENUCMTVUINLZR
ICYRFFGTKDNBQSH
NLXZWKMVCICTCDD
ZAOWRSUNVMDOIXG
ZCCFCUEAKAKFSMP
YRHUUTMCYSSMPFG
TUCIESREQXAICHL
LYVBKNNZVBPKNQA
EXQSHOSGVZDHDFM
HYPHCUDQTMWVNEK
NGACBGTSACXEHRE
DUUHNQVDATWTIEK
ZRFHTOFRUPTKHNP
XYNFBBHWPVSSKIN
NOHYWLJQZKWRSQO
UIEEQKYEMPRQEDM
IVSVAPNGKDVPQME
XGCIOAVXVIGTPIQ
ORDQRJEKWFPVWZP
ECYNYRCGWWIFCYX
GVLGPLBSJGMIJCX
RHYEOHHWTXOAGYS
FSDOZGZJGNPTRUA
ESTRPYFTJVZQHOP
EQLOQRGPHPKEDEI
IQHCZYWPJZKAZQA
KSKMIPLDRGCWCAD
GZCDBB

Can a reader solve one of these challanges? If so, please leave a comment. Any other informormation about NKRYPT is welcome, too.


Further reading: To whom did Martin Gardner dedicate his crypto book?

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