The Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript

Posted on February 11, 2008  Comments (1)

image from the Voynich manuscript

A fun read – The Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript:

Voynich asked the leading cryptographers of his day to decode the odd script, which did not match that of any known language. But despite 90 years of effort by some of the world’s best code breakers, no one has been able to decipher Voynichese, as the script has become known. The nature and origin of the manuscript remain a mystery. The failure of the code-breaking attempts has raised the suspicion that there may not be any cipher to crack. Voynichese may contain no message at all, and the manuscript may simply be an elaborate hoax.

This study yielded valuable insights into the process of reexamining difficult problems to determine whether any possible solutions have been overlooked. A good example of such a problem is the question of what causes Alzheimer’s disease. We plan to examine whether our approach could be used to reevaluate previous research into this brain disorder. Our questions will include: Have the investigators neglected any field of relevant expertise? Have the key assumptions been tested sufficiently?

Dr Gordon Rugg at the Department of Computer Science Keele University – Replicating the Voynich Manuscript

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One Response to “The Mystery of the Voynich Manuscript”

  1. Nick Pelling
    February 12th, 2008 @ 6:59 am

    The Voynich Manuscript is a great mystery: but Gordon Rugg’s analysis of it only shows that it ~might~ be a hoax, and falls a long way short of demonstrating that it ~is~ a hoax. Of course, one can easily show that it ~might~ be some kind of unknown Chinese transcription, or a message from the stars, etc etc: so this all proves nothing.

    Yet Rugg’s hypothesis can be falsified: the presence of 15th century quire numbering on the manuscript is a strong hint that Rugg’s proposed 16th century mechanism is just plain wrong. Gordon would, of course, say that these numbers would necessarily have been part of the hoax, along with all the page scrambling and rebinding that happened before those numbers were added: but this kind of apologetic comes across as a bit desperate and sad.

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