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Current Topic: Cryptography

RE: F.B.I. Seeks Help Cracking Code in Murder Victim’s Notes -
Topic: Cryptography 11:13 am EDT, Apr  1, 2011

Decius wrote:

A body is found. In the victim’s pants are two notes written in some sort of code. The F.B.I. is called in and concludes the man was murdered.

But the encrypted notes have the F.B.I. stumped — so stumped that this week, after years of trying to decipher them, it posted what amounted to a public request for help on its Web site.

Since the murder took place here in St. Charles, MO, I've been interviewed by local press to get my opinions on the ciphers. Check here for a recent clip on local TV news:

Cracking code could help solve St. Charles murder case


RE: F.B.I. Seeks Help Cracking Code in Murder Victim’s Notes -

Kryptos talk at ShmooCon 2006
Topic: Cryptography 1:54 pm EST, Nov  9, 2008

Kryptos and the Cyrillic Projector Ciphers
Elonka Dunin

For any who are interested in my Kryptos talks, this link has an MP4 video of my talk at the ShmooCon convention in early 2006. I found it interesting to watch again, as my talk continually evolves from year to year, as new information about Kryptos becomes available, so it was a nice refresher to see the way that the talk used to be in 2006. :) I also tailor the talks a bit depending on my audience, and so since this talk was in the Washington DC area, I threw in a bit more information and in-jokes for the DC crowd. The sound of the recording is a bit muffled in places, but overall it's pretty good coverage, and they did their best to move the camera back and forth from me to the slides.

Elonka :)

Kryptos talk at ShmooCon 2006

Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms: Update
Topic: Cryptography 10:21 am EDT, Aug  2, 2008

Heya, just as an update for those who are interested in this, I heard from my publisher, and my book is now in its fourth printing. Sales of 16K in the U.S., and 9K in the UK, plus a scattering on other continents. Pretty cool stuff!

Now if I could just get them to send me actual royalties, LOL! I signed the contract in 2005, the book came out in early 2006, I got my "advance" in 2007, and nada since that. Ah well, of what I hear from other authors, this is typical. Maybe if the book keeps selling well, I'll get some nice royalty checks when I retire...

Elonka :)

Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms: Update

Howstuffworks Videos "How Kryptos Works"
Topic: Cryptography 9:16 pm EDT, Apr  5, 2008

2-3 minute clip about Kryptos. The parts with me were recorded in my hotel room at Dragon*Con last year. For those of you that saw me walking around with a camera crew in tow, this is the result!

Elonka :)

Howstuffworks Videos "How Kryptos Works"

Elonka on 'Fox and Friends', July 22, 2007
Topic: Cryptography 1:26 am EDT, Jul 23, 2007

FOX News July 22, 2007 10 MB 4-minute segment on "Fox and Friends", about the upcoming NOVAscienceNOW show

Here's an archive of my appearance on FOX News this morning.

It's such a surreal experience, being interviewed remotely on live TV. The show was broadcast from New York, but I was in St. Louis. They'd rented out a local PBS studio in downtown St. Louis, to do the live feed. I was a "talking head."

So there I am in the St. Louis studio, at 6:45 a.m. on a Sunday morning, trying to look perky even though I'd been up since 3:30 a.m. to get ready. There were two technicians in the studio, wearing headsets and outside of my vision. So I'm perched on a stool, looking into a blank camera, listening to the audio feed via an earplug. I had no visual feedback whatsoever as to whether or not I was on the air -- no red light, no monitor. For a sense of what this feels like, go sit in front a blank wall, stare at it, and try to keep your face smiling and engaged, even though you have no idea of whether or not you're even being looked at.

I also had some panic before the segment... I was supposed to meet with a makeup artist at 4:30 who was going to do my hair and makeup, but they were a no-show. So I rummaged for some makeup from my purse, brushed my hair, and went on camera "as-is". So if I look a bit windswept, well, now you know why. ;)

Looking forward to the actual Kryptos segment on PBS NOVAscienceNOW this Tuesday...

Elonka :)

Elonka on 'Fox and Friends', July 22, 2007

Kryptos Flash video at CIA website
Topic: Cryptography 1:28 pm EDT, Jul 18, 2007

The CIA has updated their website with a Flash video about Kryptos. It's got several new close-up photos, which is good, but the rest of the info is awful. They are still reproducing errors in the transcript from the old version of the website, and their historical information is appalling. It's particularly irritating considering that I've written to them several times to inform them about the errors over the years, and they still haven't fixed things.

For an example of an error, look at the transcript of Panel 4 on the CIA website. It ends "E F G H I J". The line actually ends with an "L", not a "J". Check Gillogly's pic to confirm for yourself. Or check my website transcript which is easy enough to copy/paste, and has been extensively checked and double-checked and triple-checked by the folks in the Kryptos group. I'm also unhappy about the historical information on the CIA site, like where they say that Sanborn created the artwork in collaboration with a popular fiction writer. No, he didn't. That was a plan from before he started working on the sculpture, but it never actually happened. And Sanborn has confirmed that it didn't happen. And my Kryptos FAQ covers this point as well.

Our tax dollars at work... (grumble) And this is supposed to be an intelligence agency. Sorry, this doesn't make me sleep better at night. Yes, I've had reps from the CIA contact me and say, "Well look, this means that we're concentrating on our main mission, and not on the artwork around the building." But sorry, that doesn't cut it. If the CIA can't even produce accurate information about THE SCULPTURE THAT'S IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR OWN BUILDING, how the heck can we trust them to provide accurate information about anything else in the world??



Kryptos Flash video at CIA website

Kryptos on NOVAscienceNOW - July 24, 2007
Topic: Cryptography 7:00 pm EDT, Jul 16, 2007

Get out your pencils: the most mysterious of all codes in the most clandestine of all places has yet to be fully broken. "Kryptos," a coded sculpture in the courtyard of CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, contains a long string of seemingly nonsensical letters that conceal a message devised by sculptor James Sanborn. Correspondent and supersleuth Chad Cohen gets cracking, covering the cipher techniques used by Sanborn and the success of amateur code breaker Jim Gillogly at reading portions of the text. The deciphered sections include a poem, a reference to something buried on CIA grounds, and an extract from an eyewitness report of the discovery of King Tut's tomb. But the beguiling last bit of the message remains a mystery. Solutions anyone?

Okay, we're within "TiVo" time-range, so I figured it was about time I blogged it. Next week, Tuesday night on NOVA, there will be a 15-minute segment on Kryptos. The documentary filmmakers did their homework on this one: There are interviews with Kryptos artist Sanborn, code expert Ed Scheidt (who designed the systems that are used on Kryptos), Jim Gillogly (first person to publicly crack parts 1-3), and yours truly, Kryptos fangirl incarnate. ;) They flew me out to DC, to film an interview at the Hirshhorn museum next to Sanborn's "Antipodes" sculpture (which has all the text of Kryptos, plus encrypted Russian text which we cracked in 2003). I'm looking forward to seeing the segment!


Elonka :)

Kryptos on NOVAscienceNOW - July 24, 2007

New printing for 'The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms'
Topic: Cryptography 6:02 pm EST, Feb 28, 2007

Good news... I ordered another set of copies of my book, The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms from my publisher, and the new batch all say, "Reprinted in 2007."

Or in other words, they ran out of copies of my book, and had to print more (this is a good thing).

It also means that anyone who went to the trouble of getting a first edition, the collectable value of your copies just went up, heh.


Elonka :)

Kryptos on CourtTV
Topic: Cryptography 1:22 pm EST, Feb 23, 2007

I got word from one of the producers that my website will be mentioned on this show, sometime in February. I don't have an exact date yet, but will post here when I find out.
Elonka :)

Update: The (very brief) Kryptos segment will be on tomorrow :

Date: Saturday, February 24, 2007
Channel: CourtTV
Show: Saturday Night Solution (during/between Forensic Files / Body of Evidence)

As a heads-up, "Saturday Night Solution" isn't really a "show" so much, as a theme on Saturdays. Or in other words, you can't specifically TiVo it. ;) The way it seems to work, is that there are two hosts throughout the evening, who chatter during commercial breaks and offer other tidbits of information about private detectives or spy equipment or, in this case, on secret codes.

I don't know exactly in which break that they'll be talking about Kryptos, but my best guess is that it will be in the break between the two shows "Forensic Files" and "Body of Evidence" on Saturday evening.

There will also be a longer segment on Kryptos coming up this summer, on the PBS program "Nova." (Specifically, NovaScienceNow) I'll post more info on the exact date, as soon as I hear anything.

And for anyone who misses the CourtTV segment, I'll have a mirror up on my personal site later, probably at .


Elonka :)

The Saturday Night Solution on
Topic: Cryptography 1:46 pm EST, Jan  5, 2007

I got word from one of the producers that my website will be mentioned on this show, sometime in February. I don't have an exact date yet, but will post here when I find out.

Elonka :)

The Saturday Night Solution on

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