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Uhhhh 05 November 2007 01:11 AM

Voynich Manuscript
 
I have been intrigued by this ever since I heard of it...

What do you guys and gals think?

http://www.world-mysteries.com/sar_13.htm

Dobers 05 November 2007 02:13 AM

I think the text is gibberish based on the fact that it's been this long and still nobody can read it. The pictures, however, are probably symbolic of alchemy.

Casey 05 November 2007 02:15 AM

It seems far too regular and logical to be simply random. I'm open to it being an as-yet unknown language, but it puzzles me that it's never even been partially translated.

Codes fascinate me. I spent quite some time in HS pondering the Kryptos Cipher, eventually cracking the first two levels, but the third and fourth eluded me.

Richard W 05 November 2007 03:04 AM

There's a book called the Codex Seraphinianus, made by an Italian artist called Luigi Serafini and published in 1981; it's basically like this manuscript. It's an illustrated encyclopedia of an alien civilization, written in an imagined script.

It's also never been "decoded", because in my opinion there's nothing to decode. There's definitely a pattern to the script - I got as far as working the numbering out at one point, and the symbols are consistent but it changes bases part way through, as far as I could tell (up to a certain number, it's in one base but beyond that it switches to another - I don't remember exactly). But that's easy; to make any sense of the text would need a lot of work that frankly wouldn't be worth it - if there is actually anything to decrypt (doubtful) then who's to say it would be worth reading? I believe people have tried more seriously than I did, but you'd have to think there was something worth decrypting to put in any serious effort.

To my mind, the point of the book is that there is no point - it's an objet d'art in itself. There has to be a "pattern" and a "logic" behind the script, or the whole thing would be cheap and not worth doing, but there doesn't have to be a meaning.

Same with this manuscript. If it seems "far too regular and logical to be simply random" then it probably is - anybody trying to make something interesting would have to impose some sort of order. But regularity and logic don't imply meaning.

I've read about this manuscript before, but I don't remember where - I thought it might have been in The Code Book by Simon Singh, or Le Ton Beau De Marot by Douglas Hofstadter (where I first heard of the Codex Seraphinianus). But neither mention it in the index.

Silas Sparkhammer 05 November 2007 03:09 AM

There was an article in Scientific American Magazine, a year or two ago, in which the author suggested that the text of the Voynich Manuscript might be gibberish...but gibberish generated by a matrix or algorithm. Essentially, the text is so regular, it might be "programmatic" without actually containing any linguistic information.

There is a related linguistic conceit (or do I mean concept? No, I think "conceit" is better) called the "travesty." This is a way of generating random text that has the same distribution patterns as given text. For example, you can analyze, say, 100 pages of Edgar Poe, and determine his personal and unique letter-pattern-probabilities, to a depth of, say, five letters, then generate random text that follows the same distribution.

It isn't proven (is it provable?) that this is how the Voynich Manuscript was produced, but it is one intriguing possibility.

Silas

Richard W 05 November 2007 03:20 AM

I think this is a good example of overanalysis. It would be far easier to make something like this - with no inherent meaning - than to extract a definitive meaning from it. If you made it with no inherent meaning, then it would be extremely unlikely (not to say impossible) that somebody could extract a convincing definitive meaning from it.

From the article:

Quote:

One problem with the earlier hoax theory is that, as will be shown, certain word statistics (Zipf's laws) found in the manuscript are characteristic of natural languages. In other words, it is unlikely that any forgery from 16th century would "by chance" produce a text that follows Zipf's laws (first postulated in 1935).
That's not a problem with the "hoax" theory - it's a misunderstanding of the idea of "laws" and "statistics". If this guy Zipf managed to analyse language statistically and show up certain patterns on a formal basis, then anybody who was paying attention could have noticed similar patterns on a less formal basis, and built them into the imagined script. They wouldn't even have necessarily had to be consciously thinking about it - just literate and intuitive. Formalizing these things is far harder than making an "intuitive" approximation to them. Laziness really pays off sometimes.

(eta) I'm using a lot of inverted commas - the "hoax" part was probably the most relevant, though. To me, a hoax implies something that's set up deliberately to fool people for some sort of (financial or otherwise) gain. I can see somebody making this just for fun; it doesn't have to be a hoax to be meaningless. Although I'm sure it would be tempting to take the piss out of all the people who would seize on it as something significant.

(eta again) I think that the Scientific American article was where I previously read about it, Silas - a friend gave me a copy when I showed him the Codex Seraphinianus.

Joostik 24 January 2008 10:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer (Post 389446)
There was an article in Scientific American Magazine, a year or two ago, in which the author suggested that the text of the Voynich Manuscript might be gibberish...but gibberish generated by a matrix or algorithm.

Some time ago I read an article (possibly the same?) which convincinly argued the manuscript was made using a quite simple matrix. In other words, it's complete gibberish, produced through a cryptographic tool/randomizer. I'll have to look it up, just not this evening, it's a bit late already...

ganzfeld 24 January 2008 10:27 PM

Voynich thread on the old board:
http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/u...2;t=000522;p=1

Richard W 24 January 2008 10:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ganzfeld (Post 484680)

(OT) The book that Silas described in that thread sounds like The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner, to me.

snopes 02 December 2011 11:14 PM

Mysterious Manuscript's Code Has Been Cracked, 'Prophet of God' Claims
 
Written in "alien" characters, illustrated with sketches, and dating back hundreds of years, the Voynich Manuscript has puzzled cryptographers, historians and bibliophiles for centuries.

And now the mystery has finally come to an end, according to a businessman from Finland named Viekko Latvala, a self described "prophet of god," who says he has decoded the book and unlocked the secrets of the world's most mysterious manuscript.

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/...ch-manuscript/

thorny locust 03 December 2011 12:02 AM

Not qualified to comment on the manuscript in general, but I have a nitpick of the analysis about halfway down the page of the story linked to in the OP of this thread:

If the "red pepper" is colored green, that doesn't mean it can't be a member of the species they're referring to as "red pepper". Red peppers start off green; the drawing could just be of an immature stage.

That might be why they're calling the identification "not certain" rather than incorrect; but if they mean to imply that red and green peppers are different things, they're wrong about that.

Skeptic 03 December 2011 06:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dobers (Post 389386)
I think the text is gibberish based on the fact that it's been this long and still nobody can read it. The pictures, however, are probably symbolic of alchemy.

There are demonstrably genuine cyphers that have not been decoded, with Linear A being a prime example.

Floater 05 December 2011 12:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by snopes (Post 1564387)
And now the mystery has finally come to an end, according to a businessman from Finland named Viekko Latvala ...

And the couldn't even get the man's name right, it's Veikko.

Casey 07 December 2011 04:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by snopes (Post 1564387)
Written in "alien" characters, illustrated with sketches, and dating back hundreds of years, the Voynich Manuscript has puzzled cryptographers, historians and bibliophiles for centuries.

I don't buy it. He says he "decoded" it but provides absolutely no information on how- at the moment, for all we know he could have simply written whatever he wanted to write, it's not reproducible.

Kryptos I, II and III have been cracked along with most of IV except for 97 characters. The keys are openly out there, and you can apply them to prove its effectiveness. This guy doesn't do that.

Richard W 01 July 2012 02:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Casey (Post 1565820)
He says he "decoded" it but provides absolutely no information on how ...

He does - essentially he says that "God told him" the meaning. Nobody else can do it because God hasn't told them what it means.

Floater 16 July 2012 11:38 AM

I saw a TV program about the manuscript yesterday. Unfortunately I didn't see the start of it, but apparently they had pointed out a number of possible creators, ending with the result of a radiocarbon dating showing that the parchment came from ca 1420, thereby excluding all the possible names that had been mentioned as they were much younger than that. Sorry, but I don't buy that. The only people that can be excluded are those that lived before that date, not the ones that lived after.

ganzfeld 16 July 2012 12:27 PM

I agree with you. If the parchment was from 1420 then anyone who lived from 1420 on could have had a hand in the creation. Brian Dunning said this about that, however:
Quote:

And from history, we know that parchment was always in good demand; it would have been virtually inconceivable for perfectly good parchment to sit unused for decades or centuries waiting for someone to come along and make a forgery on it. Combined with the fact that we have no reason to doubt the history of the book's ownership as given in Marci's letter, we can be pretty confident that the book was written about the same time as the parchment was made.

snopes 25 June 2013 07:23 AM

Mysterious Voynich manuscript has 'genuine message'
 
The message inside "the world's most mysterious medieval manuscript" has eluded cryptographers, mathematicians and linguists for over a century.

And for many, the so-called Voynich book is assumed to be a hoax.

But a new study, published in the journal Plos One, suggests the manuscript may, after all, hold a genuine message.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22975809

ganzfeld 25 June 2013 07:59 AM

That would be funny if they decrypted it and the whole thing was just:
Quote:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris [...]

Don Enrico 25 June 2013 09:52 AM

Quote:

"There is substantial evidence that content-bearing words tend to occur in a clustered pattern, where they are required as part of the specific information being written," he explains.

(..)

Dr Montemurro believes it unlikely that these features were simply "incorporated" into the text to make a hoax more realistic, as most of the required academic knowledge of these structures did not exist at the time the Voynich manuscript was created.
I don't have a cite, but I remember reading (maybe here) that it has been shown that the semantic patterns could have been reached by using templates that define sentence structure using meaningless "words".


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