A certain Corey Starliper of Tewksbury, Mass claimed last month (July 2011) to have finally solved the famous-but-uncracked “340” (i.e. 340-glyph long) message sent in 1969 to the San Francisco Chronicle by the Zodiac Killer. Bless ‘im, but his so-called solution boils down to opportunistically choosing between multiple Caesar shifts, while modifying words and adding in extra ones where it all goes a bit Pete Tong.
Hence it should be no great surprise to most Cipher Mysteries readers that, however sincerely Mr Starliper believes his solution to be correct, I’m sure it’s basically a crock. However, the best thing about it is that it inspired Dave Oranchuk to post up a nice page demolishing it (though I personally wouldn’t call it a “hoax”, but rather a fairly typical example of the kind of self-convincing non-cryptology we’ve all seen countless times).
I don’t normally post on the Zodiac Killer ciphers (I’m more of a Renaissance guy myself), but plenty of people do find it interesting: to me, it has a home-grown 2d transposition feel to it, a bit like a lo-tech d’Agapeyeff cipher. Incidentally, I rather like Dave Oranchuk’s Zodiac webtoy, which lets you try out all kinds of crypto toolbox stuff on it (and indeed on various other ciphers). Enjoy! 🙂