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New study suggests Voynich text is not a hoax

Posted on June 25, 2013
Comparison of the Voynich manuscript and different information carrying sequences. A) Information in word distribution as a function of the scale for the Voynich manuscript compared to other five language and symbolic sequences (F: Fortran; C: Chinese; V: Voynich; E: English; L: Latin; Y: yeast DNA). The number of words in all sequences was equal to that of the Voynich text; if the original sequence was longer, the additional words were not considered. B) Scale of maximal information for the sequences considered in A. Credit: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066344.g001

Comparison of the Voynich manuscript and different information carrying sequences. A) Information in word distribution as a function of the scale for the Voynich manuscript compared to other five language and symbolic sequences (F: Fortran; C: Chinese; V: Voynich; E: English; L: Latin; Y: yeast DNA). The number of words in all sequences was equal to that of the Voynich text; if the original sequence was longer, the additional words were not considered. B) Scale of maximal information for the sequences considered in A. Credit: doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066344.g001

Theoretical physicist Marcelo Montemurro and colleague Damián H. Zanette have published a paper in the journal PLOS ONE claiming that the Voynich text is likely not a hoax as some have suggested. The two researchers along with others at the University of Manchester in the U.K. analyzed a digital copy of the text and say that computer assisted analyses of the “book” suggest it does harbor meaning, though what that might be is still a mystery.

The Voynich text is a book made up of 104 folios—each page has graphemes (arrays of characters) and drawings on it. It first came to light in 1912 when Wilfrid Voynich claimed to have found it in an Italian Monastery. The graphemes suggest words made up of characters that do not appear in any other known language. Since the time of its discovery, various researchers have sought to determine if the text is written in an unknown language, or if it is instead a book created by someone as a hoax. Adding to the mystery of the text are the drawings of plants on most of the pages—none of them are known to exist in nature. Carbon dating of the text suggests it was created sometime in the 1400s—but that that doesn’t offer proof that the writing on the parchment was done during that period, leaving some to suggest it was Voynich himself who created the characters and drawings. To date, no one has been able to prove whether the text has meaning or if it is simply pages of gibberish. To learn more, Montemurro and his team turned to advanced computer analysis.

Read more at: Phys.org

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