Voynich manuscript discussion: 2005 January 22

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
no one in particular


Post by no one in particular » Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:51 pm

I think that the centre image is the moon and not the sun. Go from there...

D J Matulewicz

Post by D J Matulewicz » Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:54 pm

It looks like a type of sailor's compass through the night sky. Perhaps they had different names for things than we do today. If only one person visualized it but wrote it down for posterity and later someone else found it and thought it was significant it could have been cataloged as important.


Voynich Manuscript

Post by Yeolus » Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:00 pm

This may include constellation perspectives from another star system. The graphic representation may conform to the universal language of sacred geometry.
There may be a clue in the following website:


Voynich manuscript discussion: 2005 January 22

Post by PeteG » Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:14 pm

My first impression is that it is not the sun at all but the moon.
The center circle with the face has phases and the division into 24 sections could be the days that the moon is visible in the sky.


voynich manuscript

Post by Juncker » Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:16 pm

The text contains elements of Greek, Germanic and even Arabic charcters. It is clearly designed so that only a happy few can understand its message. It is coded and probably in a very simple form, such as changing language or lettertype after each letter or group of them. The only thing is decoding is quite a hassle and requires commitment of specialist in these various ancient languages.

Marc, Belgium

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markings on caves in france

Post by allen_theniceman » Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:32 pm

It seems no one know what the markings are in the caves, ifsome one took
pictures than shrank then you would see finger prints enlarged. :)


Voynich Manuscript

Post by Guest » Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:36 pm

The center face does look asian, and the "star" might pass as a compass or even a clock face... it has a word over each of the "hours".

I have seen a bible that was published in the mid-1800s in English for a certain spoken-only Native American Tribe's Language (not Cherokee). The translation created a mostly vowel filled text that is readable but generally unrecognizable... the words in that culture are concepts and the bible's words are like run-on sentences. Maybe someone created a book in the same way for a small unknown population's dying language.

And, yes, as an artist, my doodles have taken on a complexity at times that can look "official". It would be only a small step to compile a bunch of doodles and sell them... if I did so with the intent to defraud, then it would be a hoax. If they were saved by my daughter, compiled, loved and several decades later, mistakenly ended up in a yardsale, well... No fraud was intended but they would then be open to interpretation by anyone.

Hmmm, what a concept for a new book.


voynich text

Post by hobbit » Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:53 pm

Script looks much like Tolkiens Elvish, he also had two main forms of Elvish. Not to menition Dwarf runes. One wonders if he had a look Voynich text or something similar.



Post by odam » Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:55 pm

the more I read the less I hear.
thats a code, right, or is it a hoax?
APOD posed a challenge, for all to participate in. Instead we find the
same sort of flaming I expect in a chat room full of kids.
Lets enjoy the challenge, and spin thru the possibilities, leaving out the
critique of others conclusions.

It'll be more enlightening that way, which is the point of this lesson., right?


Post by Guest » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:07 pm

This is a quote from the Scientific American article:
The assessment that the features of Voynichese are inconsistent with any human language was based on substantial relevant expertise from linguistics. This conclusion appeared sound, so I proceeded to the hoax hypothesis. Most people who have studied the Voynich manuscript agreed that Voynichese was too complex to be a hoax. I found, however, that this assessment was based on opinion rather than firm evidence. There is no body of expertise on how to mimic a long medieval ciphertext, because there are hardly any examples of such texts, let alone hoaxes of this genre.

A promising possibility was the Cardan grille, which was introduced by Italian mathematician Girolamo Cardano in 1550. It consists of a card with slots cut in it. When the grille is laid over an apparently innocuous text produced with another copy of the same card, the slots reveal the words of the hidden message. I realized that a Cardan grille with three slots could be used to select permutations of prefixes, midfixes and suffixes from a table to generate Voynichese-style words.

A typical page of the Voynich manuscript contains about 10 to 40 lines, each consisting of about eight to 12 words. Using the three-syllable model of Voynichese, a single table of 36 columns and 40 rows would contain enough syllables to produce an entire manuscript page with a single grille. The first column would list prefixes, the second midfixes and the third suffixes; the following columns would repeat that pattern. You can align the grille to the upper left corner of the table to create the first word of Voynichese and then move it three columns to the right to make the next word. Or you can move the grille to a column farther to the right or to a lower row. By successively positioning the grille over different parts of the table, you can create hundreds of Voynichese words. And the same table could then be used with a different grille to make the words of the next page.

The Cardan grille method therefore appears to be a mechanism by which the Voynich manuscript could have been created. My reconstructions suggest that one person could have produced the manuscript, including the illustrations, in just three or four months. But a crucial question remains: Does the manuscript contain only meaningless gibberish or a coded message?

I found two ways to employ the grilles and tables to encode and decode plaintext. The first was a substitution cipher that converted plaintext characters to midfix syllables that are then embedded within meaningless prefixes and suffixes using the method described above. The second encoding technique assigned a number to each plaintext character and then used these numbers to specify the placement of the Cardan grille on the table. Both techniques, however, produce scripts with much less repetition of words than Voynichese. This finding indicates that if the Cardan grille was indeed used to make the Voynich manuscript, the author was probably creating cleverly designed nonsense rather than a ciphertext. I found no evidence that the manuscript contains a coded message.

This absence of evidence does not prove that the manuscript was a hoax, but my work shows that the construction of a hoax as complex as the Voynich manuscript was indeed feasible. This explanation dovetails with several intriguing historical facts: Elizabethan scholar John Dee and his disreputable associate Edward Kelley visited the court of Rudolf II during the 1580s. Kelley was a notorious forger, mystic and alchemist who was familiar with Cardan grilles. Some experts on the Voynich manuscript have long suspected that Kelley was the author.

Kafka Radio

Just one theory

Post by Kafka Radio » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:13 pm

I have not read through all of the theories at this point, however one that is plausible is that the author was schizophrenic or suffering from some other sort of mental illness. That would explain the invention of a new alphabet and unknown constellations, figments of a warped mind. It would also explain the fact that cryptographers cannot decipher the meaning of the document; there is not logic to it, thus no discernable pattern.

Another thought is that it is a fiction, a world created for the amusement of its author. However, the argument for a fiction is weaker, as cryptographers would likely be able to come up with something, if even a pattern.

A hoax is, of course, not out of the question either, but some consideration in this discussion should be given to mental illness.


Voynich Manuscript: A Recipe For Harvesting Opium Poppies

Post by geon » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:18 pm

I think the Voynich Manuscript is a recipe for harvesting opium poppies. The manuscript images found here as well as the astronomical/seasonal one displayed on today's APOD illustrates this. The manuscript shows when to harvest the opium poppy (APOD image), when to cultivate it (image: F34r.jpg) and how to process it (images: F75r.jpg, F78r.jpg) into morphine.


Voynich Manuscript: A Recipe For Harvesting Opium Poppi

Post by geon » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:23 pm

I think the Voynich Manuscript is a recipe for harvesting opium poppies. The manuscript images found here as well as the astronomical/seasonal one displayed on today's APOD illustrates this. The manuscript shows when to harvest the opium poppy (APOD image), when to cultivate it (image: F34r.jpg) and how to process it (images: F75r.jpg, F78r.jpg) into morphine.

It could very well be an entire recipe book for processing plants into some form of narcotic.

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Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2005 3:07 pm

Post by ZenWarrior » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:23 pm

Nice to meet you good people. Great problem, eh?

I have read through the thread, and if I have not missed it, can offer that the manuscript has also been of long-time interest to the NSA. In fact, I have a copy of a monograph about manuscript written by one of their scholars, M. E. D'Imperio in 1978. For now I offer the following...

Many here feel the manuscript is a hoax. However, the NSA monograph states: "So much time and so much expense in vellum of excellent quality went into it, it cannot be a hoax....It is conceivably the work of a wealthy and learned, if deranged, person, but not a hoax."

Elizabeth Friedman, wife of the great cryptologist William Friedman, and an excellent one herself states: "All scholars competent to judge the manuscript...were--and still are--agreed that it is definitely not a hoax or the doodlings of a psychotic but is a homogeneous, creative work of a serious scholar who had something to convey."

So although the notion of a hoax cannot be entirely dismissed, it is generally assumed by many well-informed individuals, and the National Security Agency, that the Voynich Manuscript is indeed the "real deal."

steve davis


Post by steve davis » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:41 pm

These are not real plants, They are fantasy plants.

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Voynich manuscript

Post by sfroebel » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:51 pm

My first impression on seeing the picture from the Voynich manuscript was that it was a medieval windrose, such as mariners used on their maps. They also had a maximum of 12 points, as this picture does. Then I saw the face, which I don't remember if I've ever seen on a windrose.


Voyanich manuscript

Post by murfsurf » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:54 pm

It seems to be a star chart from long ago,
I think you should fold the picture to cover the dark shaded places on the picture.Next on a night when the waxing or waneing moon matches the sliver on the picture,with the center cutout,put the middle on the man on the moons nose and rotate to a matching star that you do know.Now you may have to make a small leap of faith here but its worth a try.For every riddle there's an answer right unger your (MIM)nose.GOOD HUNTING.
Surf out


Language of MA

Post by dargie » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:55 pm

It looks a lot like Leonardo's mirror-writing to me. Has anyone reversed it and then looked for similarites to known languages?


Post by Guest » Sat Jan 22, 2005 4:57 pm

It looks like the women are coming out of a crack pipe.


Post by zoomy942 » Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:01 pm


i know what you mean about farther we go, the less they knew.. and my arguement being based on very few hard facts. but one thing, in 5,000 years, our computers will not be around, or buildings will have whiddled away. and people in the future will have no choice but to think we are a lesser people. besides, it's the things that we havent found yet about the past that intrigues me. for example, whats in that room under the spinx that egypt wont let anyone in?

i will check out those books you mentioned though, i love this kind of stuff


Post by Malasorte » Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:03 pm

To me looks like some sort of a clock..




Post by ALS » Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:10 pm

Clearly there is an astrological connexion after the herbal and alchemical pages (the signs are represented in order; p70r has the sign pisces at the center; followed by aries; p71v has aries, taurus, gemini; p72r has leo, then virgo . . .) Robert Hand could perhaps offer some insight as he is possibly the leading expert an ancient astrology.



Post by odum » Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:10 pm

I would like to see what this disc would look like if it was spinning on a flat
surface like a vinyl LP record. The 3D effect might be interesting, with the
shading on the points. As a tattoo artist, I can appreciate the details.
I know it wasn't meant to be a waxing or waning, but those are features
associated with the lunar cycles.

The lunatic in me comes out every now and then. Ha ha

Keep an open mind, but not so open your brain falls out. :wink:


Post by Guest » Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:35 pm

The fact that cryptographers have got nowhere suggests that it's not a cipher but a code. If the 'letters' represent whole phonemes rather than single letters, for example, then the observed frequency analysis (which doesn't fit a language) could be explainable, as could the apparently low entropy of the language (if, for example, the language it was representing made a lot of use of the same sound).

Though it is interesting that the word length distribution is binomial. Such things normally show up in discrete readings with random error. Maybe the thing is actually ciphered, and the word lengths are randomly chosen?

That gives me an idea. A lot of ancient texts were written without spaces in. Perhaps the empty space is in fact another letter?

cap'n bob

Ancient Manuscript

Post by cap'n bob » Sat Jan 22, 2005 5:37 pm

I suspect it's a hoax. Check with Dan Rather and CBS News - they seem to be into fake documents - maybe they can appoint a phony commission to investigate and discover nothing.