Adobe Art – San Jose Semaphore

Adobe Art
Public art under the overpass and a public art-puzzle high in the building.

If you look at the top of the Adobe headquarters building in San Jose you will see four yellow circles with lines across them, each 10 feet in diameter and made of LED lights. That is the San Jose Semaphore , a puzzle and art piece. If you watch, the four wheels you will see that they spin every few seconds, each independently and to a different degree to relay an encrypted message.

The first puzzle was programmed into the spinning semaphores in 2006 and was solved by Mark Snesrud and Bob Mayo in 2007 to be the full text of the 1966 novel, The Crying of Lot 49.

This second semaphore puzzle went up in 2012 and eluded all code breakers until 2017 when Tennessee high school teacher Jimmy Waters broke the code. Once the spinning wheels were decoded he found that they appeared to represent an audio wave. Feeding that audio wave into software that converts it to sound resulted in the code breaker listening to the Neil Armstrong broadcast from the moon, the famous one that ended with “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

How cool is that?

What will the third puzzle solution be?

Adobe Art
As a lover of murals, I find this interesting. On the pictured tower of the Adobe headquarters, look in the nook where the building sides meet. A giant mural is way up there. I wonder how many years it was up there before I noticed it one day as a passenger in a car traveling down highway 87. Maybe some day I’ll find a way to see it up close.