Redirect: This flag design is now hosted on this page.
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.
Welcome to the personal website of Brian Cham
I am a:
- Vexillologist (flag expert). I am currently a finalist for the official flag of Long Beach, California. Previously, I was commissioned to design the flags for the fictional nations in the NeuroSpasta role-playing game, I have been a judge for other official flags (NAVA 55, The Center for the Living City and Cedar Falls, Iowa) and I was a finalist for the officials flag of Galveston, Texas and Reno, Nevada. I am a member of NAVA, the largest flag organisation in the world. My Earth flag has been featured in NAVA’s newsletter, I was honoured to give a popular presentation about flag design and I have a forthcoming article in their publication Vexillum based on the presentation. I love how flags can symbolise so much meaning and bring people together. I design flags for places that have controversies or are in need of a redesign that can elegantly and truly express a community’s spirit. Feel free to browse and share my designs or see my NAVA profile!
- Cryptographer (code breaker). I love solving puzzles, analysing patterns and breaking secret codes. Previously, I made apps to teach cryptography and steganography to students in a fun way, which were used as teaching tools in the local university and museum. Now I analyse the Voynich Manuscript, a centuries-old book written in unique symbols that nobody can understand. The world’s top experts have failed to make sense of it. Is it a secret code? A lost language? A sophisticated hoax? I aim to help find out! Feel free to read my Voynich Manuscript articles or see my Voynich Ninja profile!
- Software developer. By trade I am a software developer at Southern Cross, the largest health insurance provider in New Zealand. I have two Microsoft Certifications, a Professional Certificate in Data Science from Harvard University and a degree in Software Engineering from the University of Auckland. Most of my experience is full-stack development for innovative web and cloud applications but I always like to learn new things. Previously, I worked at the multi-national company Vista Entertainment Solutions that makes the software that runs most of the world’s cinemas. My most recent success was developing part of Living Ticket, a worldwide cloud service that delivers digital contactless movie tickets to millions of cinema-goers every day. Feel free to see my software projects or see my LinkedIn profile!
- Cinephile (film lover). I have a degree in Film, Television and Media Studies from the University of Auckland, where I studied a variety of media forms and won three First in Course Awards. Previously, I was a finalist in an international film competition run by the United Nations, one of my proudest achievements. In high school, I got first in Media Studies 301 and the Best Director award for my short film. Feel free to see my short films or see my IMDb profile!
- Bookworm. I love learning new things and exploring new ideas. As of February 2021, I am the #1 top book reviewer in New Zealand for All Time on GoodReads. I commit to reading one hundred books each year and I aim for a variety of time periods, cultures and subject matters. Feel free to see my GoodReads profile!
- Designer. I used to do a bit of freelance graphic design on the side. Feel free to browse my designs!
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).
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.
- 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.
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!