This article was my April Fools joke for 2015, kept here for personal history and amusement. No, I don’t believe that René Zandbergen forged the Voynich Manuscript. And don’t worry, I’m still sane!
In 2008 I became interested in the Voynich Manuscript and have been reading about it ever since. Over time I read many theories and went through different theories of my own, but one thing always got in the way – it just didn’t make sense. Like the mythical hydra, solving one issue would just raise more. Basically: the more you know, the more you don’t know. How could we possibly explain this artifact where no theory covers everything and the facts can contradict? Every now and again I felt a nagging gut feeling that something just didn’t add up. Something is just fundamentally wrong about the situation that I can’t put my finger on. It’s something that everyone here is thinking but nobody wants to say. We aren’t just on the wrong track, we are in completely the wrong field.
Eventually I gave in to these intuitions and started afresh with a blank slate. I cleared away all speculation, binned my previous work, disregarded the big names and ignored any assumptions and preconceptions that were holding me back. It was time for the bare facts, and the facts only. I built these basic truths into a new explanation without trying to prove any theory, trying to gratify myself, or considering what theories were popular. The result surprised and disappointed me. But the truth is the truth, it just is what it is, and it doesn’t change to comfort anyone. If you can’t face opposing viewpoints and prefer to hide within your own comfortable theories, I warn you not to read further.
I tried so hard and got so far, but in the end it doesn’t even matter. In short: The Voynich Manuscript is a modern forgery by René Zandbergen.
Personal website of Brian Cham: Software developer and occasional designer, vexillologist and code breaker.
Recently on the Voynich Manuscript mailing list there has been a kerfuffle over a supposed Athanasius Kircher booklet find in Minerva Auctions’ catalogue. You can find the details summarised here in Ellie Velinska’s blog (don’t worry, the April Fools’ joke at the bottom is on her part, not Minerva’s). I’ll continue with what I’ve dug up.
Here is Bunny’s find of possible hidden numbers and letters in the tree on f71r of the Voynich Manuscript (link goes to original image). It is reproduced on my site with permission (by request, in fact).
Possible hidden letters and numbers in the tree in f71r.
Adjustments in the image: “changed contrast brightness, gamma, colour then made b/w. attempting to remove green from tree and clarify what left, no adjustments made to actual lines of image.”
I was in a statistical geography mood so I made this map based on Wikimedia statistics. It shows the most popular Wikipedia language edition for each countries and territories that had hits in 2014 Q1. If the majority of hits from a place are for a single language, I marked that language’s colour. If there was no majority language, I marked the top two in a gradient.
I hope you find this as interesting as I did.
Map of countries and territories by most popular Wikipedia edition (2014 Q1). Click on image for full size.
- Out of ~6000 languages in the world, only 32 (0.5%) account for most popular Wikipedia edition in every country and territory in the world that tried to access it. All of these languages are from Eurasia, which really says something about the power structures over history and the digital divide.
- Language geography corresponds well with European imperial holdings with some exceptions. Who would have guessed that Puerto Rico, Suriname and East Timor would have English as their preferred Wikipedia language? Regionalisation is also a factor.
- English has more popularity than the rest of the languages combined.
- Regions with no single majority language include North Africa, the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Baltics. Other such places include Belgium (French and Dutch), Norway (English and Norwegian), Greenland (English and Danish), Israel (English and Hebrew) and South Korea (English and Korean).
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below!
Every now and again we uncover manuscripts with possible direct or indirect links to the Voynich Manuscript. They might contain a similar glyph, a similar illustration, or perhaps a similar diagram. A good example was Cod. Sang. 839 (discovered by Thomas Sauvaget) with the same quire number style.
Cod. Sang. 754 is perhaps special in how many similarities there are.
All credit to the discovery goes to Job (from the Voynichese project); I am simply documenting it for him. I will avoid making any bold claims and simply lay out all the similarities and let you make your own decision. I’ll also not bore you with the details of the manuscript until the end.
1. The illustration
The first thing Job noticed was the style of the illustration on page 164.
Page 164 of Cod. Sang 754.
It should speak for itself.
(it’s the only full plant illustration in the manuscript so don’t bother looking for others)
This paper proposes a new pattern in the text of the Voynich Manuscript named the “Curve-Line System” (CLS). This pattern is fundamentally based on shapes of individual glyphs but also informs the structure of words. The hypotheses of the system are statistically tested by two independent people to judge their significance. It is also compared to existing word structure paradigms. The results suggest that the shapes of glyphs affect their placement in a word, the Curve-Line System is an intentional feature of the text design, and the text of the Voynich Manuscript is a highly artificial system.
My page for public Voynich resources is now successfully up and running, and on the main link menu. I’ll be posting all sorts of useful things in the future. Watch this space!
According to my latest cipher theory, this is a general estimate of what the encipherment process could be:
- (Optional) Prepare your plaintext by removing some letters. Helps to save time.
- (Optional) Split into blocks of equal length. Helps to reduce errors.
- Convert each letter into a number with simple substitution.
- Do some mathemagics to the numbers with Pascal’s Triangle (exact details are trade secret). You now have Voynichese! If you split the plaintext into blocks, each one now corresponds to a line of ciphertext. But some may have ended up with wildly different lengths, so…
- (Optional) Pad out lines with filler at the beginning or end to make them equal length. Helps to make the result look nicer and harder to decipher.