Check out these famous uncracked codes that still exist! From secret riddles to unsolved mysteries, this top 10 list contains cryptography that's still unexplained today!
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10. Chinese Gold Bar Cipher
In 1933, General Wang in Shanghai, China, allegedly received seven gold bars. These gold bars appear to represent metal certificates related to a bank deposit with a U.S. Bank. The gold bars themselves have pictures, Chinese writing, some form of script writing, and cryptograms in Latin letters.
Not surprisingly, experts debate concerning the validity of the claim for the deposit. It may help to resolve the dispute if someone can decipher the cryptograms on the bars. Someone translated the Chinese writing, which discusses a transaction in excess of $300,000,000. It also refers to these gold bars, which weigh a total of 1.8 kilograms. The rest remains a mystery.
9. D’agapeyeff Cipher
The D’Agapeyeff cipher is an as-yet unbroken cipher that appears in the first edition of Codes and Ciphers, an elementary book on cryptography published by the Russian-born English cartographer Alexander D’Agapeyeff in 1939. Offered as a “challenge cipher” at the end of the book, it was not included in later editions. D’Agapeyeff supposedly admitted later to having forgotten how he had encrypted it.
Some argue that the failure of all attempts at decryption is due to D’Agapeyeff incorrectly encrypting the original text. However, it has also been argued that the cipher may still be successfully attacked using computational methods such as genetic algorithms. Whatever those are.
8. The Beale Ciphers
If this next one isn’t a hoax then the person who solves it could become very, very rich.
This question of authenticity has bothered cryptoanalysts ever since these ciphers first appeared in an 1885 pamphlet called The Beale Papers, which recounts a fantastic story of buried treasure. According to the pamphlet, a man named Thomas Jefferson Beale, a man no one has proven even existed, discovered gold during an 1816 expedition into the American West. The treasure, as the story goes, was then transported to Bedford County, Virginia, and buried.
The gold's secret location was allegedly provided by three cryptograms, of which one was already cracked. Unfortunately, the cracked code only detailed the type of treasure there and not a specific location.
To find out anything more specific would involve cracking the two other ciphers. The problem is that figuring it out requires comparing them to unknown historical texts. The decrypted cipher, for example, used the Declaration of Independence. The first number, 115, corresponds with the first letter of the 115th word in the Declaration: "instituted." That means 115 stands for "I." So what are the translation texts for the other two ciphers? No one knows, and they may very well not exist at all. There are also questions over whether the other ciphers may just be unintelligible, as if the whole thing was made up by the pamphlet's author decades after the gold was supposed to have been discovered.
In 1897, a 40-year-old composer named Edward Elgar sent an encrypted letter to 23-year-old Dora Penny, the stepdaughter of one of his friends. Why he sent it is part of the mystery and can only be answered if anyone ever cracks the code.
To figure it out would involve deciphering 87 characters all made of strings of semi-circles oriented in different directions. Attempts at translating the cipher yielded a message just short of gibberish. Experts say that shorter ciphers are always harder to solve.
Another theory has it that the code is an example of a distinct private language shared only between Penny and Elgar. If that's the case, then solving it may be simply impossible, since no one but them would understand the references.
In 2016, a police officer in Cleveland believes he’s cracked at least part of the code, revealing a line of melody. Inspector Mark Pitt read 100 books on the Dorabella Cipher; he hopes to write one on his discoveries. Whether or not that’s really the meaning, though, remains to be seen.