#3. The Necropolis Code
Encoded Messages About: Freemasonry.
The word "necropolis" originates from a Greek word that literally means "city of the dead." Today, it's is a fancy way of saying "huge goddamn graveyard." Scotland's Glasgow Necropolis is arguably the most famous of these. So much so that, since the Necropolis was established in 1831, no self-respecting Glaswegian would be caught dead anywhere else. It's a national landmark and kind of a big deal there. Also, it may be the largest Masonic site in Europe.
The graveyard was established by the Merchants' House of Glasgow, an organization of powerful businessmen looking after the town's interests. According to the theory, most of these men were Freemasons, and they chocked the site full of symbols.
One that shows up frequently is the Royal Arch, the emblem of the fourth degree of Freemasonry. Think of it as triple black-belt status of a very lame martial art.
They designed the layout of the Necropolis to reflect the "Masonic Journey," a sort of path to "enlightenment." The entrance to the Necropolis is on the west side, symbolic of darkness (where the sun sets), and a path leads to the east (where the sun rises), symbolizing the light. All the while passing those pillars, archways and other various Masonic symbols along the way.
Kept Secret Because:
As we saw with Mozart, at a time when Mason hating was in vogue (especially with Christian denominations, which a majority of the Scottish population would have belonged to), it's no surprise all of this was kept hush-hush. No one would have wanted to rot in a burial ground his church considered heretical.
Speaking of which ...
#2. The Knox Code
Encoded Messages About: Freemasonry. AGAIN.
If you're planning an extraordinarily boring road trip through Galesburg, Illinois, you may want to swing by Knox College of Liberal Arts. Honest Abe got his doctorate there, kind of, and the Old Main building is the only site from the Lincoln-Douglas debates that lasted longer than the GOP's reputation for being "Lincolny." These used to be the most interesting facts about Knox College, until one professor became bored enough that he just began staring at the walls and the grounds for hours on end, and discovered something comparatively astonishing.
Professor Lance Factor, aside from having a name that sounds like a television game show, believes that he's discovered coded evidence that Knox College's Old Main building was built in honor of, you guessed it, goddamned Freemasonry. According to Factor, Charles Ulricson, the architect behind Old Main, built it to be a giant Mason good luck charm. He designed it with techniques that supposedly harnessed the energies of the "Divine Architect" and "Geometer of the Universe." There was something about a Keymaster and Gatekeeper, too.
There's something strange in your neighborhood.
Freemasonry borrows a lot from ancient metaphysical symbols that allude to a harmony between God, nature and mathematics, and most of Factor's evidence consists of numbers and geometric patterns he found.
The "Golden Ratio," which equals approximately 1.6; the square root of five, about 2.2; and pi, around 3.1, are scattered everywhere. For example, the dimensions of Old Main's footprint is 70 feet by 112 feet exactly. Since it has a ratio equaling 1.6, it's known as the Golden Rectangle. According to Factor, the window panes form a "talismanic pattern" known as a dodekatopos. The 12 angles around the rectangle are symbolic of the Zodiac.
While this may just be a Beautiful Mind scenario of old, bored professors discovering coded patterns in neckties and slices of toast, the sheer number of examples make it pretty extraordinary. On top of all this, originally, the building had 16 steps representing the steps to the temple of Solomon, and a pattern on the floor that symbolized something called the "Pavement of Moses," but these were all torn up when the building was renovated in the '30s. Yes, pictures would be nice, but they're all in Factor's book and he isn't sharing them with Google anytime soon.
Kept Secret Because:
By now you know the Masons weren't all that popular no matter where they went. But you have to understand in this case how freaking brazen they must have been: During the mid-1800s, fundamentalist Christians in America were on an anti-Mason lynching campaign -- not only for the Masons' cultish ways, but because the organization had its roots with the treacherous British. And among the staunchest Mason-haters in the country were the founders of Knox College.
The Masons either had balls, or they were just the most passive-aggressive people on the planet.
It's the kind of douchbaggery that only an architect could pull off.
#1. The Newton/Galileo Code
Encoded Messages About: Their biggest discoveries.
During the 17th century, scientists like Galileo and Isaac Newton were figuring out how Earth works, discovering planets and laws of nature and inventing useful tools, like physics--all while still having to shit in a bucket.
Anything to get your mind off of bucket-cleaning day.
Science is a cutthroat game, however, and it's imperative to stake your claim before some other jerk gets the credit. For example, calculus was developed by Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz at the exact same time, but today Newton gets all the credit, even though that other guy published his version of calculus first. Why? Because, it was discovered, Newton earlier wrote this puzzling letter:
"I cannot proceed with the explanation of the fluxions [the calculus] now, I have preferred to conceal it thus: 6accdae13eff7i3l9n4o4qrr4s8t12vx."
Although it looks like Newton fell asleep on his keyboard mid-sentence, the bit at the end there is actually an anagram, where the numbers represent the number of times each letter appears. Expand and unscramble it and you get this:
"Data aequatione quotcunque fluentes quantitates involvente, fluxiones invenire: et vice versa."
Or in English:
"Given an equation involving any number of fluent quantities, to find the fluxions: and vice versa."
Which, of course, you will instantly recognize as the principal theorem of Newton's Calculus.
Kept Secret Because:
The patent system of the era was lacking a sophisticated procedure and had significantly less red tape (tape didn't exist yet), but basically how it worked was that the first person to publish a theory in print got to claim dibs on the new discovery. This was called "establishing priority."
Rock, paper, scissors hadn't been invented yet.
That's why writing up your findings in code was pretty standard practice in the olden days of science. If you're, say, Galileo, and you see through your home-made telescope that Venus has grown a pair of tits overnight, before you go running to the newspapers you need to be pretty damn sure that Venus has tits. But the fear is that while you're working on the theory, some other guy will jump out and claim he discovered it first.
So what you'd do is write down your findings in code and mail them off. So later, if some other schmuck comes around claiming he was the first to discover tits on Venus, you only have to reveal that you'd published the secret (in code) a year earlier. This is how Galileo claimed priority for many of his discoveries, such as the rings of Saturn.
We don't get what's so impressive about that. They're right there.
Of course, that creates the possibility that it will never be figured out. There's a theory floating around that suggests Galileo discovered Neptune 234 freaking years before its official discovery, but it's in an anagram out there somewhere that has yet to be decoded.
The message also probably reveals him to be a Mason.
For real people that ruled the planet, check out 6 People Who Secretly Ruled The World. Or see what Bucholz thought about the sequel to the Da Vinci Code, in A Da Vinci Code Sequel Review (By Someone Who Skimmed It).
And stop by Linkstorm to discover the secret code of the Internet.
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