Friday - - Mindbenders -

Crack­ing the codes This week we wind up the sub­ject of Easter Eggs – those in­ten­tion­ally hid­den im­ages or phrases in­serted by au­thors. Al­most as amaz­ing as the eggs are the fans who fer­reted them out.

One edi­tion of Dan Brown’s best-seller The Da Vinci Code fea­tures a cover de­sign of coloured dots, which im­me­di­ately sug­gests a stere­ogram – a de­sign with a 3-D im­age con­cealed within. With prac­tice you can stare at the jacket, and be­hold! The im­age of a di­nosaur ap­pears.

But that isn’t all Brown’s dust jack­ets have to of­fer. Read­ers of his ear­lier techno-thriller De­cep­tion Point no­ticed a seem­ingly ran­dom se­ries of num­bers and let­ters on the last page of that book: “1-V-11644-11-89-44-46-L-51-130-19-118-L32-118-116-130-28-116-32-44-133-U130”. Given that Brown’s fans are part puz­zle-solvers and have enough time on their hands to plan their lives around those vo­lu­mi­nous tomes, they checked to see what would hap­pen if you re­placed each num­ber in the se­quence with the first let­ter in the cor­re­spond­ing chap­ter in De­cep­tion Point. They did that, and the let­ter se­quence “T V C I R H I O L F E N D L A D C E S C A IWU E” ap­peared – which you might recog­nise as also be­ing com­plete gib­ber­ish.

But Brown’s fans are made of sterner stuff. Re­fus­ing to quit, they then took those 25 let­ters and re­alised that when you ar­range them in a five-by-five square, it reads so: TVCIR HIOLF ENDLA DCESC AIWUE Now read the let­ters down­wards in ver­ti­cal col­umns, left to right: “THE DA VINCI CODE WILL SUR­FACE”!

When The Da Vinci Code fi­nally did sur­face, the book’s dust jacket was rid­dled with ci­phers. That trail of clues led to two num­bers writ­ten in light red ink on a dark red back­ground on the back of the book. If you were able to find them, and plugged them into Google Maps, they re­vealed them­selves to be the lat­i­tude and lon­gi­tude of Kryp­tos, a cryp­to­graphic sculp­ture out­side the CIA head­quar­ters. Part of the Kryp­tos code re­mains un­solved to this day.

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