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.