Voynich Manuscript

The World’s Most Mysterious Manuscript

I thought I’d revisit this post I did back in 2011, because the video is hilarious and makes me smile. Little did I know when I wrote it that I’d write a book with Gordon Rugg a few years later, entitled Blind Spot, which touched upon some of the issues inherent in his Voynich work.

One of many bizarre pages from the Voynich manuscript.

One of many bizarre pages from the Voynich manuscript.

A few years ago, when I was living in Europe, I wrote an article for Wired magazine about a scientist named Gordon Rugg who put forth a novel explanation for what many people call the world’s most mysterious manuscript. The Voynich Manuscript, discovered in Italy in 1912, is a bizarre tome written in an unusual alphabet, language or code that no one — not even the world’s best cryptographers — has been able to decode.

Rugg thinks the book is not written in a code at all, but is instead a colossal hoax. His peer-reviewed journal article described a possible reason and mechanism for this. The Voynich MS was back in the news recently because of some Carbon-14 tests which dated the vellum, or paper, to the early half of the 15th Century (between 1404-1438).

Journalist/iconoclast/Village Voice founder John Wilcock corresponded recently with Rugg to see what he thinks of the new data, since it directly contradicts one of Rugg’s pet theories that the book may be the work of Elizabethan con man Edward Kelley.

Wilcock’s post, which went up a few days ago, hints that hoax theory is not yet dead. Nat Geo ran a video recently about the mysterious book. This clip is from an earlier TV documentary that was delightfully melodramatic.

By the way, there are nearly 200 more Voynich videos on YouTube, more than you’d ever want to watch. I don’t need to learn more, frankly. It’s clear to me that the book is the work of extraterrestrials.

This post first appeared on my old blog on April 8, 2011. I’m moving it here in an effort to rescue my old content.

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Cover Reveal: Blind Spot!

I’m always explaining to people that I write my own books for personal satisfaction/gain/pleasure, but my day job is ghost-writing books for other people. Most of the time, the “authors” of these books ask me not to reveal that I’ve written them and this is enforced by our collaboration agreement. (The degree to which I write these books varies greatly; more on that process one of these days.) Here’s one of the books where I’ll actually be getting a “with” line.

HarperOne, a division of HarperCollins will release BLIND SPOT, a nonfiction science book co-authored by myself and UK senior lecturer Gordon Rugg in April 2013. The publisher has yet to release the product description, but basically: science. 

Rugg, by the way, is your basic code-breaker, computer scientist, and supergenius. Almost a decade ago, I profiled him for a WIRED magazine article about his then-new theories about the mysterious Voynich Manuscript—a bizarre medieval-seeming book that appears to have been written in an unbreakable secret code or unknown language. Check out high-res images of that freaky book here.

I later revised that article and presented the new version as the title piece in my nonfiction indie book, The Scientist and the Sociopath. (bottom)

The publishers have released this (top) version of the upcoming book, which is now up for preorder on Amazon and other sites. I used to proudly say ta-da! with each new cover, but I’ve since learned that covers can change on a dime. Could happen here, too.