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Centenary Code Challenge solved at Questacon

By Questacon Media 20 Jan 2014

Centenary code 2_0.jpg

Questacon’s Centenary Code Challenge has been solved in the closing hours of Canberra’s Centenary year by a Melbourne-based engineer.

Glenn Mcintosh of Coburg, Melbourne, has submitted the first correct solution to the code, embedded in Questacon’s NKRYPT outdoor exhibit. Glenn wins a 12-month family membership to Questacon and a hot air balloon ride for two.

The Centenary Code Challenge was announced in March this year with the NKRYPT exhibit to provide a lasting memento of the Centenary of Canberra at Questacon.

The first obstacle was to identify which of the exhibit’s 60 interlinked codes and ciphers, laser cut into eight pillars, was the Centenary Code.

“I heard about NKRYPT while in Canberra in early February so I haven’t yet seen it in person. I worked from images posted online and found the key was latitude and longitude coordinates. It was trial and error from there. I didn't know for quite a while that it was the Centenary Code.

“I’ve been interested in secret codes since I was a child. There's a special feeling of elation in solving any elegant puzzle, a sense of completeness. I think that’s the addictive part,” said Mr Mcintosh.

Questacon’s creator of the NKRYPT codes, Dr Stuart Kohlhagen, congratulated Mr Mcintosh on his achievement.

“This exhibit has generated significant interest amongst a small but dedicated group of amateur code breakers working together on tackling the codes,” said Dr Kohlhagen.

“It’s gone well beyond Canberra, with people involved from across Australia and also America and Indonesia. This group has collaborated via social media and their NKRYPT website has received over 6000 views.

“It’s great to see the prize going to an Australian—and I expect Glenn has earned significant kudos from the other code breakers,” said Dr Kohlhagen.

In a public talk today, Mr Kohlhagen revealed the Code and its solution to a small crowd. The five rows of mysterious symbols can be decoded into GPS coordinates and then interpreted to reveal the names of ten Canberra suburbs named after scientists and innovators (such as Farrer and Florey), or that have connections to Questacon (Ainslie and Parkes).

Mr Kohlhagen pointed out that there were still many puzzles to be solved in NKRYPT.

“To date only about one-fifth of NKRYPT’s codes have been deciphered, and not all of the mysteries revealed in these decoded messages have been solved. The key to unlocking the final code will emerge from the solutions to all the other codes.”

Media contact:      Annie Harris, Senior Communications Advisor – Media, 0439 399 912.