World’s Strangest

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Kryptos: The CIA Cipher Hiding in Plain Sight

Kryptos photo via Wikimedia Commons Kryptos is an encrypted sculpture installed at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It’s a set of huge copper plates with enciphered text carved into them — for example, one segment reads TWTQSJQSSEKZZWATJKLUDIAWINFBNYP, though it looks a lot nicer in context. Although the sculpture was installed in 1990, it took until 1999 [...]

Leonardo Da Vinci mystery to stay hidden

The hunt for a long lost Da Vinci masterpiece beneath a fresco in Florence has been called off. Often likened to Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code”, the …

Drunk Texts from Famous Authors

Because I could not stop for beer, it kindly stopped for me. Jessie Gaynor of The Paris Review imagined intoxicated text messages from famous authors including Emily Dickinson, Gertrude Stein, Dan Brown and others. Link -via Nag on the Lake

Face of the Devil Hidden in Giotto Fresco

Is this the face of the devil? Art historian Chiara Frugoni spotted a face that Italian renaissance master Giotto snuck into a fresco in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi: The face, with hooked [...]

Murder Mystery At The Met

Something dastardly is afoot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it is up to the guests to figure out whodunit-by completing a scavenger hunt. A company called Watson Adventures has organized a fun yet cerebral murder mystery in the museum, where the detectives must solve the crime via clues linked to works of art [...]

How Cryptic: 4 Famous Unsolved Ciphers and Codes

People love a good mystery, and few things are more mysterious than a long-unsolved code. Here are the stories of four ciphers and codes we’ve been unable to crack. 1. The Shugborough Inscription Letters carved into Shepherd’s Monument at Shugborough Hall in the mid-1700s, commissioned by Thomas and Admiral George Anson, continue to ignite the interest of [...]

Hidden Literary References in the Mona Lisa?

A Queen’s University Classics professor may have found a reference that Dan Brown missed. Ross Kilpatrick believes the Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece, the Mona Lisa, incorporates images inspired by the Roman poet Horace and Florentine poet Petrarch. The technique of taking a passage from literature and incorporating it into a work of art is known [...]

Mona Lisa’s eyes reveal code

Art detectives have discovered tiny letters and numbers placed in the eyes of the Mona Lisa. Like something out of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code the tiny …

The Quick 10: The Real People Behind 10 Literary Characters

We’ve learned the background of some children’s book characters here on the _floss (Eloise may have been based on Liza Minnelli, for example), but today we’re uncovering the inspiration for some characters in more adult novels. 1. Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind was distant cousins with Doc Holliday. It’s supposed that she based [...]

The Quick 10: 10 Facts About the U.S. Capitol Building

I admit it – I’m reading the new Dan Brown book. I feel like I should be a little bit embarrassed, but it’s the fastest-selling adult novel of all time, so obviously I’m in good company. In case you’re not familiar, The Lost Symbol involves the typical Robert Langdon-style hunt for clues and symbols through [...]