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For the past 17 years, a cryptographic puzzle has stood on the grounds of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, taunting cryptographers, both amateur and professional, including the Agency’s own experts.

The sculpture comprises of an S-shaped copper screen surrounded by other elements such as a piece of petrified wood, a red and green granite, a white quartz and a pool of water. On this copper screen, are cut out four ciphers in a jumble of letters—some 1,700 of them, and spread across four sections. Out of the four encrypted messages only three has been solved.

kryptos-3

Photo credit: MAI/LANDOV

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