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Another Possible Voynich Breakthrough

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the be-sure-to-drink-your-Ovaltine dept.

Encryption 160

bmearns writes "Over the past few weeks we've been hearing a lot about a possible breakthrough in decoding the infamous Voynich manuscript, made by a team of botanists who suggested that the plants depicted in the manuscript may have been from the New World and the mysterious writing could be a form of an Aztec language. But the latest development comes from linguist Stephen Bax, of Bedfordshire University, who believes he has identified some proper names (including of the constellation 'Taurus') in the manuscript and is using these as a crib to begin deciphering the rest of the text, which he believes comes from the near east or Asia."

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160 comments

EUREKA!!! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292353)

It says "Be Sure to Drink Your Ovaltine"...

Re:EUREKA!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292471)

Hahaa, I was just about to propose it being a MacDonald' ad from the future that is time traveling, hamburger eating and fat. Encrypted Marketing (tm), it is.

Re:EUREKA!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292721)

Gaaaaay RON PAUL 2012

Re: EUREKA!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293015)

Nah, I just deciphered it and it reads.... FUCK BETA!

in other news... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292361)

...yet another researcher reports their findings that one of the Rorschach inkblots may definitely be a picture of a face...

Re:in other news... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293757)

...yet another researcher reports their findings that one of the Rorschach inkblots may definitely be a picture of a face...

Boobs. Rorschach inkblots are boobs.

Water stains, burn patterns, clouds; those are all faces. But Rorschach blots are boobs.

Get cheap publicity fast, spout of a theory!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292369)

Let's then have a look at all the plants pictured in the manuscript where the theory does not hold up. What a dumb theory but here's the way to prove it then and that is if that grand theorizer can decode the text to render semantically sound meaning ... and we haven't seen that just yet ...but just another dumb theory and I got plenty of those myself, thank you.

Re:Get cheap publicity fast, spout of a theory!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292491)

So, you have a theory, right, and it has a spout? And all you need to do is show the spout of a theory, and this gets you cheap publicity fast? Better not let real estate agents know about this spout thing.

Re:Get cheap publicity fast, spout of a theory!! (4, Funny)

Guy Harris (3803) | about 5 months ago | (#46292999)

So, you have a theory, right, and it has a spout?

I'm a little theory Short and stout Here's my handle Here's my spout.

finally (3, Funny)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 5 months ago | (#46292373)

Anyone else get the feeling that this is pretty much the only ongoing legendary Discovery Channel special mystery that actually got solved. Atlantis? Who knows? Stone henge? Not really solved. Nostradamus? Super debatable. But finally, what seems like yet another impossible eternal mystery is FINALLY being solved! And in my lifetime! I can't even think of any other comparison similar to this.

Re:finally (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 5 months ago | (#46292457)

SHUT UP!

BIG FOOT AND GHOSTS ARE *REAL*!

(I don't care how many caps I use, it's all REAL!)

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292463)

Perhaps its Etruscan, at long last?

Re:finally (5, Informative)

Baloroth (2370816) | about 5 months ago | (#46292503)

Atlantis was solved over 2000 years ago: Plato made the story up. He says as much. It was never intended to be taken as an actual real place, it was just a story told by a fictional character in one of his dialogs (the Timaeus, to be specific) to make a point.

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293399)

Atlantis was solved over 2000 years ago: Plato made the story up. He says as much. It was never intended to be taken as an actual real place, it was just a story told by a fictional character in one of his dialogs (the Timaeus, to be specific) to make a point.

Whoa. All of a sudden, we find 2000 year old writings believable? What is Slashdot coming to?

Why yes, it was supposed to be ironic.

Re:finally (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 5 months ago | (#46292593)

Landing on the moon, splitting the atom, discovery of the Higgs boson, neutrino detectors, and of course "Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus".

Re:finally (1)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 5 months ago | (#46292967)

Landing on the moon wasn't a mystery. Splitting the atom was predicted. The Higgs Boson was solved, just not proven and proving theories is quite boring compared to creating them, neutrinos were already theorized to exist, they merely proved it, and "men and women are different" is not new.

Re:finally (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | about 5 months ago | (#46293481)

Indeed, what's new in recent research is that "men and women are the same", and that most psychological differences aren't caused by genes and hormones, but cultural differences.

Re:finally (2)

Optimal Cynic (2886377) | about 5 months ago | (#46292605)

I can't even think of any other comparison similar to this.

How about Piltdown Man?

Re:finally (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 5 months ago | (#46292737)

'Atlantis' is Crete. Minoan culture.

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292939)

Akrotiri actually, which was on Thera,

Re:finally (1)

Sique (173459) | about 5 months ago | (#46293031)

Rather not. It's one of the pet hypotheses, but according to Platon (who first told about Atlantis), it was one of his myths to explain something. Even the person who talks about the fictional Atlantis (Timaios) is probably fictional. Planton told several myths (like the one about the spheric humans), and all have the same character: They are introduced in his dialogs as a monolog of the older of both persons, and the person always claims oral tradition as source. Why Atlantis should have been real, while the spheric humans are not, is left as exercise to the reader.

Re:finally (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293165)

Spheric humans exist.

Re:finally (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293255)

usually referred to as "hamplanets"

Re:finally (2)

Noughmad (1044096) | about 5 months ago | (#46293389)

or, in the rest of the world, "Americans"

Re:finally (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 5 months ago | (#46292759)

What, again [youtube.com] ?

Is this the book... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292395)

Where if you read it you die seven days later or something?

No progress at all... (4, Funny)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#46292411)

This guy just looked at the pictures, found a few he thinks he knows, and assumed the text with some similarity MUST BE IT.

"He said he had managed to find the word for Taurus, alongside a picture of seven stars (seen as part of the zodiac constellation of Taurus)"

Up next he'll find the word "leaf" next to a picture of a leaf, and the word "copyright" on the last page...

Re:No progress at all... (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 5 months ago | (#46292515)

Looking at a random page from the book, the manuscript is clearly nonsensical, perhaps someone's attempt to leave a coded riddle, but certainly no ancient record of exotic flora or other scientific knowledge. The same "word" is repeated four or five times on each line, with only one different word appearing on the line, often differing from the repeated word by only one "letter", at other times looking like it could be an English word in barely legible script.

Re:No progress at all... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292675)

Looking at a random page from the book, the manuscript is clearly nonsensical, perhaps someone's attempt to leave a coded riddle, but certainly no ancient record of exotic flora or other scientific knowledge. The same "word" is repeated four or five times on each line, with only one different word appearing on the line, often differing from the repeated word by only one "letter", at other times looking like it could be an English word in barely legible script.

So if I understand you right, you're trying to tell us this is some ancient person's version of the lyrics to badger badger badger.

Re:No progress at all... (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#46293069)

I'd go another way: http://xkcd.com/851/ [xkcd.com]

Re:No progress at all... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292899)

You make it sound as though that would make it any less cool.

Also, you make it sound as though that wouldn't be an appropriate thing to see... One of the theories about it is that it's a grimoire of sorts. Word/letter repetitions may seem odd, but the word "abracadabra" dates back at least as far as the third century, where it was used as talisman, by writing it multiple times, but subtracting letters each time, as follows (but center-justified):
A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B - R - A
A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B - R
A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A - B
A - B - R - A - C - A - D - A
A - B - R - A - C - A - D
A - B - R - A - C - A
A - B - R - A - C
A - B - R - A
A - B - R
A - B
A

Re:No progress at all... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293077)

But, taking the modern transcription of the text,
f2v.P.1;H> kooiin.cheo.pchor.otaiin.o.dain.chor-dair.shty-
f2v.P.2;H> kcho.kchy.sho.shol.qotcho.loeees.qoty-chor.daiin-
f2v.P.3;H> otchy.chor.lshy.chol.chody.chodain-chcthy.daiin-
f2v.P.4;H> sho.cholo.cheor.chodaiin=
f2v.P.5;H> kchor.shy.daiiin.chckhoy-s.shey.dor.chol.daiin-
f2v.P.6;H> dor.chol.chor.chol.keol.chy.chty-daiin.otchor.chan-
f2v.P.7;H> daiin.chotchey.qoteeey.chokeos-chees.chr.cheaiin-
f2v.P.8;H> chokoishe.chor.cheol.chol.dolody=

It does look like a natuar langague, with prefixed grammatical cases/subject marking;
heavy word and syllable Repitition (like vietnamese, or african languages)
And grammatical agreement created by infixes or outfixes (wrapping word with both pre- and postfix)

That and the fact there were more than 3 distinct consistant handwriting styles in there, means that at least three people could write this fluently with ink without thinking about the letter-shapes.

Re:No progress at all... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293039)

You do realise that in the languages families this is puported to be from, that's normal patterning of a aggulnative language; heavy on prefixes, and repetition (both word and morpheme level) This is compounded by the fact many of the languages are few on morphemes.

"fachys.ykal.ar.ataiin.Shol.Shory.cThres.y,kor.Sholdysory.cKhar.or,y.kair.chtaiin.Shar.are.cThar.cThar,dansyaiir.Sheky.or.ykaiin.Shod.cThoary.cThes.daraiin.sa o'oiin.oteey.oteos,roloty" -- Beginning of First page of the voynich transcript using latin characters. -- Looks like a language to me.

I personally love http://my.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E1%80%A1%E1%80%9B%E1%80%B1%E1%80%AC%E1%80%84%E1%80%BA This example for a language that is nothing but repeated circles.

"A koi aku la lakou ia ia a hilahila oia, i mai la ia, E hoouna aku oukou. A hoouna aku la lakou i kanalima kanaka; a imi lakou ia ia i na la ekolu, aole i loaa. A hoi hou mai la lakou ia ia, (no ka mea, e noho ana no ia ma Ieriko,) i aku la ia ia lakou, Aole anei au i olelo aku ia oukou, Mai hele oukou?" (Old Testament)

"oka maeuhane e nana ana oe maloko oka abenana ma kahi mamao he hoailona laki ia no ka hoomahuahua ana aku i kona ma pomaikai.
ina he kanaka mahiai e holopono ana kana mau mea kanu ina he kanaka ma ka oihana e pii ana kana ma hana ina he kanaka ilihune mahuahua ana kana mau keiki a pelaaku." (Newspaper)

"Aymar aruxa arsuta aru, qillqata aruwa. Jichhurunakanxa waranqh waranqh aymaranakarakiw uraqpachan mirantatasipki, janiw Los Andes ukawjanakt utjki aymaranakaxa."

Or look at http://dv.wikipedia.org/wiki/%DE%89%DE%A6%DE%87%DE%A8_%DE%9E%DE%A6%DE%8A%DE%B0%DE%99%DE%A7 For an example of repeated glyphs over, and over again.

Or even inuktitut article for the eye: http://iu.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E1%90%83%E1%94%A8
Seeng repeated glyphs over and over, looks like complete gibberish, or variants that aren't significant, actually are. dot over the i or no? significant in Turkish. i, j, originally just a cursive swish to differentiate i at end of word from a trailing tail.

Re:No progress at all... (2)

eggstasy (458692) | about 5 months ago | (#46293233)

Bacon-wrapped back bacon is still bacon-wrapped bacon. Does this mean that by repeating "bacon" too many times I have rendered the sentence invalid? Please. You can never have too much bacon.

Re:No progress at all... (1)

jrumney (197329) | about 5 months ago | (#46293923)

The page I was looking at was more like "Bacon bacon bacon beacon bacon pork. Beacon bacon pork bacon bacon beacon. ... ad nauseum, the lines morphing over time but the repitition being constant. It was illustrated with a half dozen naked cherubs, but I can't seem to find it now (was on the first page of a Google image search this morning). Looking at other pages, there seem to be many pages with patterns in the text (same word not quite lining up vertically the entire way up the page), which make it look like it is not natural prose. As for the script, it has more in common with cursive Latin script than Burmese or other Asian scripts.

Re:No progress at all... (1)

sandertje (1748324) | about 5 months ago | (#46293453)

So? Could be some sort of linguistic joke. Something like Dutch "de vliegen vliegen vliegende vliegen achterna" (the flies fly after flying flies).

Re:No progress at all... (1)

RDW (41497) | about 5 months ago | (#46293489)

Sorry, but that's just Double Dutch to me.

Re:No progress at all... (1)

Jerry Smith (806480) | about 5 months ago | (#46293931)

Sorry, but that's just Double Dutch to me.

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

It's a genuine sentence. A VERY typical one, but a correct one.

Re:No progress at all... (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 5 months ago | (#46293635)

The same "word" is repeated four or five times on each line, with only one different word appearing on the line, often differing from the repeated word by only one "letter",

1) Da na na na na na na na na na na BATMAN!

2) Fuck the fucking fuckers...

3) Random opinionated people on /. are always more knowledgeable than experts in the subject.

So english is made up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293781)

Now that you mention this I am convinced that any language where such a repetition is possible has to be made up. I always knew there was something wrong with English, all these inconsistent spelling rules and the weird grammar, no way could a language where the following is a real sentence be anything but fiction:

"Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo"

and even worse

"James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher"

English has to be the worst prank the Brits every played, all the accumulated time of learning a clearly fictional piece of language or maybe we should not assume that the perceived weirdness automatically disqualifies a language.

Re:No progress at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292643)

Up next he'll find the word "leaf" next to a picture of a leaf, and the word "copyright" on the first page...

There. FTFY.

Re:No progress at all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292699)

Fool! It's a stargate code. Don't engage that last chevon. It's a portal to hell!

Re:No progress at all... (1)

sandertje (1748324) | about 5 months ago | (#46293445)

So? Could be some sort of linguistic joke. Something like Dutch "de vliegen vliegen vliegende vliegen achterna" (the flies fly after flying flies).

full/original poublicaiton: (5, Informative)

bammmmm (3498549) | about 5 months ago | (#46292415)

Re:full/original poublicaiton: (1)

bammmmm (3498549) | about 5 months ago | (#46292421)

sorry for the typo :) is there an edit function on slashdot?

Re:full/original poublicaiton: (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292619)

Is the an edit fucktion on slashdot? No, sorry, there i snot.

Schizophrenia (5, Interesting)

sg_oneill (159032) | about 5 months ago | (#46292419)

When I was younger, early 20s back in the 1990s , once of my best friends started to slip into schizophrenia (it ran in his family). He constantly jotted drawings and writings on paper, which grew increasingly more bizare. Started with pictures of aliens and UFOs (Which he'd say where just him having fun) but over time turned into numerological type things (My first letter is T my second is C, I am top cat, my age adds up to 9 which upside down is a third of 666 etc etc etc) and increasingly more paranoid mystery theories. He'd draw charts explaining the relationships between things.

And since he was a biology student, he drew lots of plants. Particularly his favorite, marihuana.

Whats to say this isn't the mad scrawlings of a schizophrenic mad man, 500 years ago? It'd certainly fit the pattern.

Re:Schizophrenia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292453)

Could have been. But it would have been a fairly well-educated individual, given the breadth of subjects appearing in the text.

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 5 months ago | (#46292469)

Whats to say this isn't the mad scrawlings of a schizophrenic mad man, 500 years ago? It'd certainly fit the pattern.

While not impossible, the text that remains is 240 pages (each page roughly 6.3 x 9 inches). Being as it seems to have some coherent themes across sections, it seems rather unlikely that a disturbed person could have written it on a whim.

Re:Schizophrenia (5, Interesting)

chihowa (366380) | about 5 months ago | (#46292495)

Length and coherency don't preclude madness. One of my father's patients claimed to visit another world frequently and wrote a very long book detailing the world and its inhabitants. I have a huge map he drew of the place with detail so fine you need a magnifying glass to read it all and plates of the (not surprisingly) bizarre animals that lived there. The whole thing is incredibly detailed and quite internally consistent. Schizophrenia is not orthogonal to intelligence.

There's also work like Henry Darger's [wikipedia.org] , which is extremely lengthy and follows a coherent theme.

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

chihowa (366380) | about 5 months ago | (#46292549)

Hmm, sanity is apparently orthogonal to proofreading ability.

Re:Schizophrenia (3, Informative)

infogulch (1838658) | about 5 months ago | (#46292559)

Schizophrenia is not orthogonal to intelligence.

Surely you meant "schizophrenia is orthogonal to intelligence", otherwise you're saying that all schizophrenics are geniuses.

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

durin (72931) | about 5 months ago | (#46292993)

Huh? The statement "Schizophrenia is not orthogonal to intelligence" does not say that schizophrenia == intelligence (while your own statement says that schizophrenia != intelligence), it says that just because someone is schizophrenic it does not mean that they're not intelligent.

Re:Schizophrenia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293003)

You should probably look up the meaning of the word "orthogonal." If you want to imply that they are independent of each other, you probably want to say that they are orthogonal, not that they are not.

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

jeffasselin (566598) | about 5 months ago | (#46293497)

In fact, it would appear the two aren't independent.

There has been research showing that the same genes are present and active in both geniuses and schizophrenics. There does appear to be some relationship between the two "conditions".

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 5 months ago | (#46292683)

The whole thing is incredibly detailed and quite internally consistent.

I guess the obvious question is if he can locate the planet in the sky and describe the planetary system.

Re:Schizophrenia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292869)

Just had to Kevin Spacey it up now didn't you.

Re:Schizophrenia (2)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#46293291)

Did he ever publish it? Not only would it be an interesting read, it would most certainly make a lot of GMs and Storytellers happy to have a complete world at hand that isn't split out over 1000 source books that cost something bordering a new car to get all of them...

Re: Schizophrenia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293355)

That exists already - it's called Pathfinder.

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

burisch_research (1095299) | about 5 months ago | (#46293559)

One of my father's patients claimed to visit another world frequently and wrote a very long book detailing the world and its inhabitants

I would be interested to see this book -- is there any way to get a copy?

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293599)

Did you ever ask him about their perspective on our world?

Re:Schizophrenia (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292799)

Did he ever publish the book? Not only are there people who believe in Astral Travel and such (and would actually believe the book describes a real place), but with a bit of editing there are authors and storytellers who like highly creative places- and while such things are the result of a miswired mind, that is by definition a type of creativity- even if involuntary.

Re:Schizophrenia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293579)

Don't have to blame his genes, the schizophrenia was quite evidently caused by being a raging pothead.

experts seem critical (2)

bammmmm (3498549) | about 5 months ago | (#46292449)

cant tell if expert or 'expert', but look: http://www.ciphermysteries.com... [ciphermysteries.com] found some more german critics http://scienceblogs.de/klausis... [scienceblogs.de]

Re:experts seem critical (2)

bammmmm (3498549) | about 5 months ago | (#46292465)

also: if it wasn't encoded / plain text and even borrowing from known or even latin languages, I'd guess you could identify words with heuristics...

put my money where my mouth is (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292481)

I'll bet real money that it doesn't originate in the New World. I'm going to take a wild guess and say it will be a relative of the Tocharian languages.

Simpler answer: It was a con (3, Funny)

Calavar (1587721) | about 5 months ago | (#46292531)

I remember reading an article long ago that said that the Voynich manuscript was made by a con man that wanted to make some quick cash by writing down some gibberish in a book, claiming that it had mystical origins, and selling it off to someone with more money than common sense. (In this case, that person would be Emperor Rudolf II.) Some linguists have said that the statistical patterns of the text match what would be expected of a natural language, but the article that I read suggested that it is possible to create a random text that looks like a natural language by randomly choosing syllables with a special table. This table of syllables is constructed in such a way that the probability of a certain syllable occurring depends on the syllable that precedes it. To me, this seems like a much more reasonable explanation than the idea that New World lanuages somehow made it into a book that was (according to Wikipedia) was written in Europe between 1404 and 1438.

Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (4, Informative)

plasticsquirrel (637166) | about 5 months ago | (#46292685)

You may want to read the article before jumping to conclusions. The authors have identified many of the plants and animals as those of the New World, including specific breeds of cattle introduced from Spain, animals like the Ocelot, and others. Their study is very thorough, and it includes study of texts they have found with similar scripts and languages. Their conclusion is that it came from 16th century Spain, and was written in an Aztec language by natives who had been educated by the Spanish (and their evidence for this is quite convincing). From the conclusion of the research:

We note that the style of the drawings in the Voynich Ms. is similar to 16th century codices from Mexico (e.g., Codex Cruz-Badianus). With this prompt, we have identified a total of 37 of the 303 plants illustrated in the Voynich Ms. (roughly 12.5% of the total), the six principal animals, and the single illustrated mineral. The primary geographical distribution of these materials, identified so far, is from Texas, west to California, south to Nicaragua, pointing to a botanic garden in central Mexico, quite possibly Huaztepec (Morelos). A search of surviving codices and manuscripts from Nueva España in the 16th century, reveals the calligraphy of the Voynich Ms. to be similar to the Codex Osuna (1563-1566, Mexico City). Loan-words for the plant and animal names have been identified from Classical Nahuatl, Spanish, Taino, and Mixtec. The main text, however, seems to be in an extinct dialect of Nahuatl from central Mexico, possibly Morelos or Puebla.

Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (3, Informative)

mbone (558574) | about 5 months ago | (#46292771)

You may want to read the article before jumping to conclusions. The authors have identified many of the plants and animals as those of the New World, including specific breeds of cattle introduced from Spain, animals like the Ocelot, and others. Their study is very thorough, and it includes study of texts they have found with similar scripts and languages. Their conclusion is that it came from 16th century Spain, and was written in an Aztec language by natives who had been educated by the Spanish (and their evidence for this is quite convincing).

Read this [ciphermysteries.com] for a contrary (and, I think, better informed) view.

Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (1)

supercrisp (936036) | about 5 months ago | (#46293851)

I wish the author of that article provided links to the information about letter forms. I'd like to read about that. The age of the vellum doesn't help much, as vellum was often re-used. Of course, there may be evidence that this text was the first use of the vellum, though the article does mention finding previous text with a blacklight. Maybe I should be glad there aren't links to this other research. I might lose half my morning.

Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (2)

denzacar (181829) | about 5 months ago | (#46292793)

Except carbon dating puts the book at the beginning of 15th century.

Which would mean, that for it to fit into those New World stories it would have to have been made a century BEFORE it was filled out, AND then someone gave the empty book to the natives to fill it out with drawings and text.

On the other hand... someone finding couple of piles of old unwritten material, binding it together, filling it out with plausible nonsense and selling it to some rich amateur alchemist... that sounds a lot more plausible.

Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (2)

supercrisp (936036) | about 5 months ago | (#46293859)

With respect to your low uid# and the awesome bit of Schiller in your sig, I have to point that the age of the vellum does little to prove that the text originates earlier than some assumptions. Vellum was used over and over. So, unless we have some clear evidence that it has not been reused, the manuscript text may well be written on vellum significantly older than itself.

Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (1)

mbone (558574) | about 5 months ago | (#46292743)

I remember reading an article long ago that said that the Voynich manuscript was made by a con man that wanted to make some quick cash by writing down some gibberish in a book, claiming that it had mystical origins, and selling it off to someone with more money than common sense. (In this case, that person would be Emperor Rudolf II.) Some linguists have said that the statistical patterns of the text match what would be expected of a natural language, but the article that I read suggested that it is possible to create a random text that looks like a natural language by randomly choosing syllables with a special table. This table of syllables is constructed in such a way that the probability of a certain syllable occurring depends on the syllable that precedes it.

His name was John Dee [wikia.com] , or maybe his buddy Edward Kelley [wikipedia.org] , both pretty interesting characters.

I also believe that you are referring to the hoax theory of Gordon Rugg [keele.ac.uk] , but I found that unconvincing (such ciphers were popular 100 to 150 years after the creation of Voynich, and even if someone independently invented it earlier, manually it is a lot of work for a 240 page hoax).

Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 5 months ago | (#46292843)

What you're referring to is called a Markov chain. You can generate some very interesting text with two-deep chains, to the extent that a speaker of the language used to generate the probabilities could read it naturally and it'd feel like it's actually in that language, even though it's complete nonsense. I guess my only question would be whether someone could've figured that out back in the 15th century when Markov chains only appeared centuries later (and also had the dedication to compile those statistics manually, which is quite a bit of work in order to faithfully reproduce the statistics of a language).

Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 5 months ago | (#46293081)

Some linguists have said that the statistical patterns of the text match what would be expected of a natural language, but the article that I read suggested that it is possible to create a random text that looks like a natural language by randomly choosing syllables with a special table. This table of syllables is constructed in such a way that the probability of a certain syllable occurring depends on the syllable that precedes it. To me, this seems like a much more reasonable explanation

It seems reasonable to you that a con man would go to the trouble of doing all that mathematical analysis (to find the statistical patterns of a natural language) and constructing the special table - to defeat attempts to crack his manuscript that won't be likely to be attempted for centuries? (Needing not only the invention of the appropriate math, but also the idea of applying it to the study of language.)

The mind boggles at what else you must believe.

The Mole People wrote it. (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292567)

You have nothing to fear from them. They want to be our friends.

Way too much thinking..... (1)

meglon (1001833) | about 5 months ago | (#46292581)

There's going to be a lot of embarrassed "experts" when some one finally gives pig-latin a try.

Is there an illustration of the Colly herb? (1)

oscrivellodds (1124383) | about 5 months ago | (#46292599)

It's da healin' of da nation for sure man!

Perhaps they should look for the Mayan word for (1)

CaptainStumpy (1132145) | about 5 months ago | (#46292601)

Iguanas. Thing on the bottom of page 145 with the women bathing really looks like an iguana.

Lazy Aztec Killed the Phone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292645)

The CTIA is in a beef with various legislators and a few phone companies over the very crummy idea that your cell phone, if stolen, can be remotely bricked. The claim is that this so-called "kill switch" will deter thieves.

The CTIA argues against this idea for a variety of reasons, including the fact that your phone is ruined forever by the brickingâ"if it wasn't, the thieves would jailbreak or get it working again for resale at the flea market. A bricked phone can never be retrieved. It's ruined, why bother?

This only benefits the manufacturers that get to sell another phone. They all think the idea is great!

Plus, CTIA and everyone else points out that social hackers can fool a provider and get an unstolen phone bricked as a practical joke. This will probably be the first thing that will happen. "Yes, my name is Elon Musk. My phone was stolen!"

The measure actually protects the criminal who stole the phone since it kills the device, then the thief can no longer be tracked. Nobody will ever catch a smartphone thief. This will lead directly to an unintended consequence: they'll steal more phones.

You are a phone thief. You steal a phone and you can only use it for a short period of time before it is bricked. You toss it and steal another and another knowing they have a limited life and knowing you will never be caught! Why would you stop?

There is a far better way to do this, but it would actually require that criminals are captured, smartphones are returned to the owners, and justice is served. It also means providers and police have to do more than sit around hitting a kill switch and having a doughnut.

All phones have an internal serial number. The providers know what these numbers are. The protocol that takes the data stream from the mobile device to the tower already includes the phone ID as well as the SIM info.

All you should need to do is red-flag an individual serial number to be auto-tracked in the wild. The removal of the SIM card would make little difference to this tracking. If the GPS is activated the phone should be easy to retrieve. Such phones phone can be found, recovered, and returned to its rightful owner.

The police will grouse that this is a waste of their time when they have more important things to do. I would then ask them why they waste time on parking tickets and traffic control. How is busting a speeding motorist on a freeway a better use of time than catching a thief?

Nobody wants to suggest this because it actually requires police work. Stolen iPhones and other mobile devices are a huge plague that amounts to a crime wave. The bricking idea is idiotic, plain and simple.

If you want to deter a crime wave, you want the culprit to pay a penalty. Bricking phones left and right catches no criminals and does not solve the problem in any meaningful way. California dreamt up this bricking concept and now the U.S. Senate thinks it's a good idea. All that bricking does is destroy evidence.

Red-flagging the phones and recovering them is the better idea. Catching criminals is the best idea. A $1,000 fine for having a stolen phone in your possession would accomplish more than bricking. Pass this on to your congressional representative to get them on the right track.

Re:Lazy Aztec Killed the Phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292885)

Look at the bright side... you will be able to use hacking skills to get your girlfriend's phone bricked. You might actually manage to actually talk face to face with a real live female, just like we used to do in the sixties!

Entropy (2)

mbone (558574) | about 5 months ago | (#46292657)

The entropy and other statistical measures of the Voynich language is different from Indo-European languages. Zandbergen [voynich.nu] goes through this in some detail. To quote

Voynichese is nearly as information-rich as Julius Caesar's Latin, and significantly more so than the Vulgate version of Genesis.

Voynichese is less information-rich than Latin in the first two characters of each word, but compensates by greater variability in the trailer.

and

The statistics of Voynichese and a Mandarin text written in the Pinyin script (using a trailing numerical character to indicate tone) are very different.

There is actually a lot more of this in this and other papers. The Voynich language, for another example, has a lot more repeated words than (say) English. I seem to remember that the closest match in terms of word repetitions was with Vietnamese, and there was some speculation that it might be an invented script for that language, but that didn't pan out in detailed examination. The upshot is that it is just not realistic to just assume that Voynich is a common language written in some weird script (and, also, that these substitution games have been played before).

RTFM (4, Funny)

FullBandwidth (1445095) | about 5 months ago | (#46292667)

Anyone who's ever read documentation written by an engineer should immediately realize that the Voynich Manuscript is the user's guide for the Antikythera Mechansim.

I've got it... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292733)

...based on the illustrations (plants, herbs, astrological symbols, and MANY butt-ugly naked women), this was the medieval version of "How to Seduce Women and Add Inches to Your Penis"

Re:I've got it... (2)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 5 months ago | (#46293117)

Since it was medieval times, I think a typo slipped in:

"How to Seduce Women and Add Itches to Your Penis"

"Columbus sailed the ocean blue..." (-1, Flamebait)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46292749)

...but the 'new world' has been **continuously settled** by Asians & Europeans...there was no one event of discovery...just Catholic Church bullshit

I wonder when the Illuminati & global aristocrats will let us know the real story of the 'discovery' of the 'new world'

There is overwhelming evidence of pre-columbian contact...well...virtually everywhere...from Leif Eriksson, to the Vikings who made it to Minnesota, to the Newfoundland evidence, to the Innuit presented in Europe in 1000AD to the Inca genetics & face stones, to the South America tube gords...

It's a big deal, I know...but really the world has to learn the truth eventually...

The Voynich manuscript is another piece of evidence...but I just wonder when we can stop with the whole charade

Re:"Columbus sailed the ocean blue..." (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46292791)

It's nihilistic to pretend that Columbia's voyage wasn't an inflection point in history. Even if you disregard everything else, the millions of dead North American aboriginal people are evidence.

Yeah, I don't even like Columbus (read the piece about him on The Oatmeal if you haven't already), but I'm sick of this revisionist history. Europeans didn't invade until after Columbus, and all your other examples are statistically irrelevant. The impact of Vikings in Minnesota in AD 1000 was nonexistent, just like your examples of Incas in Europe or landing on the moon first or whatever you were alleging.

Along comes Columbus, and it's all "O hai, can has enslavement of your people and give you smallpox?", and in response it's, "Kthx for all the dirty blankets, in return have some free syphilis!"

Re:"Columbus sailed the ocean blue..." (-1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46292951)

I love how your comment essentially agrees with my premise, attacks as 'statistically insignificant' my evidence, acknowledge the existence and accuracy of some of the evidence, then criticize Columbus

you're trolling and not making consistent points

You don't know shit.

Niether do I. We know ***what we have been told*** about history.

You probably could define the term "haigiography" but you still can't make the analytical mental effort to properly contextualize **primary source history** and how it effects historiography and revisionism

Again, you don't know shit and neither do I...but you have **accepted a singular narrative from the Catholic Church**

Re:"Columbus sailed the ocean blue..." (2)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 5 months ago | (#46292853)

It's pretty well known by now that at the very least Eriksson reached North American centuries before Columbus, but that doesn't change the fact that Columbus' voyage and success ushered in a new era of colonization, which none of the previous encounters had. The Vikings may have reached Minnesota, but Americans don't descend from them now do they?

We can't compare it to Indian history can we? (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 5 months ago | (#46292919)

We only have one side of the native American genocide. Actually less than that, we have a historical narrative from the Catholic Church which has proven to be falsified in places...one version of one side of the story. I get what you're saying, but really, there's alot that you might not know.

Ex: The Portugese and Dutch Monarch, and very soon after VOC, the Dutch East India company, starting in the early 1500s had regular contact with Japan, and was even given an official 'trading pass' allowing Dutch traders access to ports that **no other country in the world** had access to..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]

It's not one document or theory. Of course around the 1500s-1700s there is evidence of an uptick in biological contact...that doesn't mean it is statistically significant or proves the Catholic Church narrative to be true.

Re:"Columbus sailed the ocean blue..." (1)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | about 5 months ago | (#46293125)

Don't forget the African settlers. But discoveries, like inventions, don't really mean anything on their own until someone popularizes them.

Re:"Columbus sailed the ocean blue..." (1)

Alomex (148003) | about 5 months ago | (#46293621)

there was no one event of discovery...just Catholic Church bullshit

This has nothing to do with Catholicism. You can equally read about Cook's "discovery" of Hawaii, and last time I checked he was Anglican at the service of an Anglican country.

Discovery of America, it's all about European etnocentrism: it didn't exist until we knew about it.

People who keep pointing that Leif Eriksson got there first are usually only driven by the fact that they don't find Columbus white enough, because if one is to be that pedantic about who got to America first, it is clearly someone from Asia/Polynesia somewhere between 10-30K years ago.

It's on Vellum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293189)

I think the material it's written on is evidence against it being a hoax. Vellum was and remains an exquisitely expensive writing material, designed to last. Combine this with the fact that the writer would have had to have an understanding of statistical analysis of written text (used to suggest whether written characters have meaning or are gibberish) and it adds up to an expensive, laborious hoax by a person with an understanding of both plant biology and statistical cryptanalysis. It just doesn't sit right with me.

Really? Nobody posted that? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 5 months ago | (#46293305)

C'mon, I'm disappointed. It's been solved ages ago.

https://xkcd.com/593/ [xkcd.com]

You read it first on Soylent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293433)

http://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=14/02/19/2059247

Obligatory Battlestar Galactica post (2)

wolverine1999 (126497) | about 5 months ago | (#46293487)

Well it was Lee Adama who wrote it originally. It was copied so many times until the 15th century when the Galactica was changed into a wooden ark because the copiers thought the galactica was a boat.
And the CAG kept getting mentioned. (eg gollcag). So it must be their legacy after all and we are the cylons.

Possible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293725)

I possibly cracked it during Absinthe experimentation.

connection towards Muziris (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#46293747)

Check connection towards Muziris and something will come up. The top side of scripts used have resemblance with local scripts in that area. Hortus Malabaricus is one of the most interesting books around.

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