"With a key," says Carl Hammer, who professes to be
more interested in unbroken ciphers than Beale's treasure, "a second grader
could decode the Beale ciphers."
According to historians, Beale could have been familiar with
some 2,000 books and government documents which he might have selected as the
Treasure map shows
Virginia area disclosed years ago in second cipher.
Many have been analyzed, including Shakespeare's plays, the
Bible, several versions of the Magna Carta, as well as U.S. historical documents
such as the 1606 charter of Virginia, the Mayflower Compact of 1620 and even the
1733 Molasses Act.
A researcher currently is looking through early-19th-century
stock inventories of book stores operating in Lynchburg at the time.
Two schools of thought exist as to whether Thomas Beale will
meet his match by computer or by hand. "We have played games with these
numbers which would have taken a million men a billion years
to duplicate with pen and paper," declares Carl Hammer, who is betting on
the computer and a team of University of Maryland experts currently working to
solve multiple substitution ciphers.
While a computer has failed to locate the treasure, Dr. Hammer
and the Univac 1108 have proved the codes genuine, not just a bunch of random
numbers Beale pulled out of a hat after a night on the town.
"They contain intelligent messages of some sort. The
method used for encoding Ciphers One and Three is similar to that used for
Number Two," says Hammer, who has spent thousands of hours over the last 20
years feeding combinations of letters and numbers into generations of Univac
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