The Voynich Code – The Worlds Most Mysterious Manuscript – The Secrets of Nature

men have always tried to encode secrets military communication love letters forbidden knowledge sooner or later most secret texts had been decoded but among all of history’s cryptic writings one has stood out this text has defied all attempts to unveil its secret for centuries though Voynich manuscript it’s the world’s most mysterious book written by an unknown author in an absolutely singular alphabet and illustrated with puzzling images what is this secret hidden between these loans yet another expert has taken on the challenge for the first time the physical materials of the Voynich manuscript will be analyzed may be ink pigments and parchment will offer a key to the Voynich enigma at the headquarters of the US military intelligence service these experts succeeded in decoding Japan’s so-called verbal code William Friedrich Friedman the services director who was one of the world’s best crypto graphs or practice between jobs Friedman and his team decoded historical cryptic texts one by one the codes were cracked but one ancient text stubbornly defied all attempts to decode it the Voynich manuscript unnerved the cryptograph gave up it’s the only code they were unable to crack questions about the roughly 200 page manuscript with its inexplicable symbols had already been raised for decades at the beginning of the 20th century an antiques dealer from New York visited Villa month Aragon in near Rome he was looking for precious books the name of the American dealer was Wilfrid Voynich in Villa Mondragon II many historical texts from a Jesuit school was stored one of the trunks Wilfrid Voynich was allowed to inspect came from the estate of one of the most famous learned men of the 17th century Athanasius Kircher among various manuscripts the trunk contained an unusual book Voynich bought the manuscript and tried to decipher it for the rest of his life he died without even coming close to his solution after voyagers death the tome ended up as a Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript library at Yale this library boasts a wealth of Biblio philic gems but probably none as famous as the Voynich manuscript one of the leading experts on the Voynich manuscript is lay neighs and Beren he has been working on it for years I have come to see the Voynich manuscript hey when I first saw an image of a page of the Voynich manuscript I immediately had the feeling this is

something that I can decipher something I can read but as the years went by this turned out to be wrong so I couldn’t read it like so many other people before me he library transfer the precious manuscript is kept in a secure place at the Beinecke in library for the first time Benes and Bergen can inspect the original and the really amazing thing is that somebody probably wrote something many hundreds of years ago and still with modern technology we still cannot decipher this on more than 200 pages of parchment for the universe of a million graphic details and some 170,000 characters unfolds in this tangle of text and images and experts I can easily get lost and the with the drawings with strange names yes the other interesting thing about the manuscript is it allows for so many different interpretations there are so many drawings so many figures you can think of any theory and you will find evidence in the manuscript that fits this this is really amazing a closer look however makes the manuscript appear somewhat less confusing the drawings help to break down the book into separate sections where straighter Polar’s ayats has spent many hours over the manuscript now we can’t read the text but we can guess probably what the book is about from illustrations so it seems to consist of several sections I’d say the greater preponderance of text in them in this book has to do with botanicals herbals it’s clearly a book about these plants shows their root systems their leaves their flowers some of the drawings even seem to be inspired by reality [Applause] I would assume that what it says probably talks about where are you gonna find this plant how it grows and then what can you use it for medicine was based on herbs so another big part of medicine at that time is also included in the book it’s zodiac charts star charts you know the sky and it’s page after page of these radical drawings that are very detailed and very specific and of course again we can’t really tell what they say but even here there are astonishing parallels to natural shapes some of the books pages also contain optical phenomena if set into a spitting motion these illustrations come to life what does this combination of plants and astronomical symbols mean in the Middle Ages if you were to be treated herbally you had to know what your zodiac sign was and then there’s the the ladies they start a little later on ladies tumbling through pools of green water these bathing scenes are particularly puzzling could this be taken as a hint at a collection of recipes for a bathing cure or even at the secret of the Fountain of Youth other illustrations seem to support that view and then it’s followed by this section towards the end I guess it looks like recipes where things look as though this is how you need to cut up your herbs that you’ve just seen on the preceding pages and this is what you need to cook them in perhaps or pound them with so I don’t know I mean just to someone who knows nothing at all it sure

looks like an herbal or medical book was the offer of medical genius trying to hide his discoveries from competitors or from the Holy Inquisition which would often rigorously root out new knowledge it was Wilfrid Voynich himself who discovered the first track leading to the anonymous author he was busy making repro graphs of the original when by accident and item appeared that had been invisible someone had written something on the first page the words had been scratched from the parchment but under ultraviolet light traces of ink become visible but I can see at T team is telling tip-in it’s something underneath Yacouba start taping it it’s very clean yacouba’s attempt image was a traveling doctor and expert in medical plants in the 17th century his preparations were famous far and wide in 1608 he was summoned to prague by emperor rudolf ii the emperor often suffered from depression and melancholia teppan itches famous herbal extracts were to relieve the monarchs distress tapenade she experimented with herbs he grew them distilled extracts mixed them with alcohol and made of fortune his alcoholic remedies seemed to avoid the Emperor’s well-being to thank definite the emperor raised him to the gentry and appointed him Imperial chief distiller but why should a doctor encode his recipes groups who were involved in the practice of healing could easily get themselves in trouble with with the church and with authorities Kevin Rapp is the curator of the Beinecke library x’ manuscript collection alchemy was very closely related to the growth of science in the early modern period and yet at the same time alchemy was considered to be an extremely arcane topic meaning the information that was recorded in these texts was often considered to be extremely secret yacouba’s attempt image was he the originator of the world’s most mysterious manuscript concerning the plant illustrations one will notice that most of them do not correspond to any natural plant details are out of proportion or reminiscent of parts of the human anatomy or of abstract symbols they appear to be allegorical images rather than botanical illustrations this type of plant representation dates back to the Middle Ages the medieval tradition was not to represent them realistically or naturalistically but rather to represent them in terms of the powers that these particular plants possess however in the early 17th century illustrations were different plants were depicted in a much more realistic manner

if we’re talking about a book that was written in the 16th or 17th century you would expect it to be much more similar to a book like this this book is from 1560 – and as you can see there’s a much greater emphasis made on precision you can identify these plants such aspects of art history were not considered at the time of Tampa niche he would only have worked in the style of his own time even though his name is found on the first page it’s unlikely that he was the author other books from his estate bear almost identical signatures surely at some point the Voynich manuscript was in his possession but the manuscript must have been written at a much earlier time one decisive hint comes from a letter that was found together with the manuscript this is a very important letter it was written in 1665 by the bohemian dr Johannes Marcos motsi he is sending it to his good friend Athanasius Kircher in Rome who was Universal scientist and believed to be able to understand all languages in the world marci sends him the book in order to have it translated the interesting thing is that in this letter we also learn a bit more about the past of the manuscript mass he heard from a friend that it was once bought by the bohemian emperor rudolf ii of Habsburg for the sum of six hundred ducats emperor rudolf ii was known for sponsoring the sciences however in his day no distinction was made between natural science and magic Rudolph had a gigantic collection of occult books and magical instruments and objects he spent huge amounts of money for his collection which also included the Voynich manuscript when Rudolph died he left behind great debt yacouba’s attempt image seems to have been one of his creditors he must have been compensated with objects from the Emperor’s library this is how the Voynich manuscript probably came into his possession the letter to the universal genius Athanasius Kircher contains another hint at the manuscripts origin the letter even names the book’s author Roger Bacon Roger Bacon was a famous English Learner clergyman in the 13th century with a telling sobriquet dr. mirabilis the miracle doctor Bacon’s insights greatly exceeded the horizon of his contemporaries his urge for new discoveries frequently got him into conflict with the church he was imprisoned at various times as one of the first Europeans he was interested in optical phenomena he found an explanation for the rainbow he also experimented with the reflection and refraction of light among other things Roger Bacon worked with magnifying glasses many drawings in the astrological section of the Voynich manuscript resemble shapes that are normally only seen through a microscope are these the very first insights into a heretofore hidden world

that would also explain the encoding because of his discoveries bacon must have worried about being persecuted as an infidel Roger Bacon experimented with lenses to correct visual problems were his lenses also capable of stronger magnification Richard Santa Coloma has investigated the optical phenomena contained in the manuscript at the time of Roger Bacon the microscopes did not exist that could make the type of detailed observations that are seen in the Voynich manuscript it wasn’t until the early 17th century when Cornelius drebbel developed a complex sophisticated twin convex lens microscope where we where we would be able to see the types of things which seemed to be reflected in these images so do you think this could be a kind of scientific notebook well I did think at first that it may be some type of notebook with actual observations through the microscope and microscopic experiments by Cornelius drebbel but over time I came to believe more that the Voynich was a fantasy document there were too many fantasy elements in fact most of the illustrations appear detached from conditions of reality do they reflect a longing for a place of fantasy a place that 17th century Minds imagined somewhere in the deep past well at the time that Cornelius drebbel was in London there was a tremendous interest in the idea of the ancient book of mysterious knowledge if anyone were to create such a book as the Voynich they would have ended up with a very valuable document that would have garnered them great prestige and possibly been able to sell for a great deal of money so perhaps the Voynich manuscript is a purely decorative object a perfectly created illustration of a mysterious ancient book even today looking through a microscope can open up new perspectives follows ayats is surprised by the perfect technical execution of the illustrations and text characters and not only that surface of the parchment has very smooth and undisturbed I don’t see any abrasion I don’t even see any Corrections in other words 200 pages of text have been written without the slightest error an almost superhuman feat this raises our suspicion there’s only one source of information about the discovery of the manuscript Wilfrid Voynich himself perhaps the successful dealer in antique books could not resist the temptation of creating such a singular extremely precious book plain his own hand several people have suspected that Voynich could have been a fraud very luck white page meanwhile modern materials science has the tools to find out microscopy expert Joseph Bahrami will investigate the manuscript he and his team have exposed numerous forgeries to determine whether an old manuscript is genuine or a much later forgery what would you be looking for which are the indications that will help you well the first thing we would do is look at it and see if any of the working methods are inappropriate for the time period but mostly we would be looking at the materials so let’s look for a page with some good pigments okay you have many choices here they’re all looking pretty good through the microscope I like the manuscripts hidden beauty is revealed this fantastic micro world hoppers information that can prove whether the book is genuine or a hoax I’ll be taking a group of small samples and the analytical methods that we use them range from a light microscopy which

gives us a look at which is what it looks like and we do elemental analysis on the particles and that tells us what it consists of we also look at the chemistry using spectrographic methods and crystallographic methods and that gives us a picture of what it is basically what we’re trying to determine during our examination is how the object was constructed because if it’s a forgery most foreigners will make stupid mistakes but we get it from these ridges at the top Joseph Bahrami symbols paint and ink from various portions of a manuscript the green is more mysterious I hate to waste even a single particle so what we found was that the ink is in iron gall ink and we found that it was made in several different batches because the constituents vary somewhat from batch to batch the blue is as your at ground as right – very beautiful mineral pigment the red is a red in the brown our ironed earth pigments red ochre with hematite wonderful stuff so in summary what we found was that the materials that constitute the writing and the painting of this document are completely appropriate to the 15th and 16th centuries and more importantly we did not find any materials that would indicate that it was a 19th or 20th century forgery the paints and inks are proof that the Voynich manuscript is authentic centuries ago color pigments were extremely costly preparing the colors was a matter of complex knowledge and skill in many cases Arabic gum was used to bind the pigments painting with mineral pigments is a technical challenge larger crystals have a stronger glow but they are harder to apply then finely pulverized minerals to get bright hues as in the Voynich manuscript the colors have to be applied with great care in this the artist was certainly skilled in stock contrast however many of the drawings appear sloppy even though Eve in the manuscript such as this little dragon or the wedge-shaped women seemed to be creations of an infant’s hand at the Beinecke a library ranae’s and bergen mates Edith Sherwood who proposes an astonishing theory the first picture I ever saw of the manuscript was this one and I assumed or developed the hypothesis that it was written by a young Leonardo da Vinci leonardo was a gifted child growing up in a wealthy family from his early youth he must have been practiced in the use of brush and pen does the Voynich manuscript contain his first illustrations if you look at the quality of the drawing and the quality of the drawing and the other pictures you realize that they are not very sophisticated and it was probably one of his first books done when he was a child one page in particular hints at da Vinci I saw this astrological picture which shares 15 little nude ladies sitting in tubs as some of them fairly obviously pregnant and around representing the

astrological symbol Aries the Aries symbol could stand for the month of April the Aries is surrounded by 15 obviously pregnant women if each woman represents one day the illustration could signify April 15th the women are holding up stars symbols of birth one of the women is holding her star blue striped ribbon she is standing in a 10 o’clock position has Leonardo da Vinci symbolized an important event I respect from the impression that it was probably represented the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci [Applause] was the Voynich manuscript an early exercise for the coded texts he would later produce leonardo was a genius one of the greatest artists in human history even at an early age he was an expert craftsman the drawings in the Voynich manuscript however show no sign of early genius and there’s no reason to believe that this would not have been a youthful exercise polar zayats is convinced with this have been extensive book this book might have been a very expensive book the pigments particularly the many of the mineral pigments that are used throughout our very good quality especially as evidenced by the fact that we can still see them bright and clear parchment gets more expensive the larger the sheet and this book contains a number of foldouts including a full-page fold-out which I which is pretty unusual when you start moving into parchment that are this size and larger it has to be taken from the center of a piece of skin that alone cost money so you had to have someone with the means to obtain a fair quantity of good quality parchment good quality pigments and the amount of time that it would take to do this it really could be a couple of years worth of work apparently the unknown author invested years of his life in a book which must have cost a fortune to produce the information he put into it must have been of great value so great in fact that it had to be encoded what ways of encoding did the author have an expert in historical codes Gerhard Strasser has the answer Jochen song he becomes the middle of our of heat and father disease our code originally used by Julius Caesar was popular throughout the Middle Ages before India for new uses a shift code where in the alphabet is simply shifted forward by four digits so that a becomes d b becomes e etc i’m ii houston seen easy to use and equally easy to crack like Sufism in also light of a whole to clock words who interest the Caesar code is the simplest method all one has to know was by how many letters the alphabet has been shifted to crack it it takes a maximum of 25 attempts see Gavazzi christine lee this ring sold implied so multiply see it was by no means safe so around 1330 the papal court tried to create a code book where in strategic keywords like pope church or king were replaced by single characters thanks the couny me tensile improved ability to decipher such a message the receiver needed to have a list of the code words when this method is used it results in ever-growing code lists that are tedious to update another problem is the secure transfer of these lists from the sender to the receiver easier to handle and more efficient was the cipher disk several revolving rings with characters enabled the user to create more complex

codes the cipher square was a further development in the late 16th century from a modern perspective all these methods are rather simplistic nowadays can old cipher system still causes any problems or can we easily solve them all Bihar boy to meet Athena and fake faints Alison today with enhanced frequency analysis and computer assisted decoding methods we can easily crack code and texts up to the 17th even the 18th centuries and Yahoo not only write to us solution be about handouts for any creature show mercy but I saw this we need a critical mass 30 characters are not sufficient it’s given that and given that the plain text made sense any coded text from that period can be deciphered at site in Soviet law text al-qaeda in schlissel so does this profusion of characters represent a text that makes sense to find out all the 170,000 characters of the manuscript have been electronically evaluated the distribution pattern of each character could then be compared to known patterns of natural languages the result some characters do occur more often than others like for instance particular vowel in European languages however most elements of the Voynich text do not correspond to the phonetic patterns of any natural language in spite of all the modern technical tools that have been applied the mysterious manuscript has not yielded its secret [Applause] the code remains uncracked linguist gordon rug still thinks he is on the right track his focus is the author’s motive to me the fact that it’s still not been crapped by modern cryptographic techniques makes it highly unlikely that there’s any real cypher in there so the Voynich manuscript may not even be an encoded message the distribution patterns Gordon rug has found point in a different direction some of the features of the manuscript were very unusual in terms of human languages but were exactly the things you’d expect if somebody was producing something artificially and trying to make it look like a language Gordon rugs supposes the unknown author merely wanted to create an impression that the book contained something mysterious for this purpose he may have used historical codes one simple method is to use a thing called a cart and grill the key concept is you have the grill which is a piece of card with holes cut in it in a particular pattern in the cryptographic version you put it over a text and it reveals the hidden message through the holes but you can also use it to generate meaningless text by putting it over the table reading out the word which is revealed through the holes writing it down moving it across generating another word writing that down moving it across and so on to the end of the grille and then repeating the process so using that method you could generate text very swiftly and very efficiently as fast as you could write it down this would explain why the world’s best crypto graphs have failed to find a message but who would produce such a book most likely suspect is an Elizabethan adventurer called Edward Kelly Edward Kelly originally came from England he was the town scribe of his hometown but was fired for forging official documents allegedly he had an ear cut off for punishment a fact he hid for the rest of his life with hairstyles and hats Kelly left England by the late 16th century and travelled the cities of Europe pretending to be a learned man as for why he might have done it there are several possible explanations one

possible explanation is simply money the Voynich manuscript was bought by emperor rudolf ii for a very large amount of money so if you could produce a manuscript that size quickly and efficiently you could make a large amount of profit by selling it to Rudolf rudolf ii had numerous scientists on his payroll including crackpots Dazzlers and imposters kelly saw his chance and offered his services to the emperor it was an alchemist who claimed to have been able to produce gold from ordinary materials Kelly claimed to be able to make gold with the help of his apparatuses to check his ability Emperor Rudolph had Kelly’s tools inspected and The Alchemist locked into a room Kelly must have known that he was under observation of course his mysterious Alka mystic experiments never really produced gold nor was this necessary because Kelly had smuggled a tiny nugget into the room the Emperor was obviously impressed Kelley was hired but there’s other possible motivations as well as money that somebody believed that the angels were talking to them for example to spell out some mystical words Kelley was experienced with such phenomena on behalf of another Englishman the mathematician John Dee he contacted angels for some time of course Kelley was the only person on earth who knew the language of the Angels and so he was able to dictate their words to her thrilled John Dee Kelly used special characters which he read from a magic table over there the angelic language of course is pure fantasy allegedly their collaboration abruptly ended where the angels told Kelly that he and Dee were to swap wives in Kelly’s case he had the means the motive the opportunity and the personality to hoax it everything points to Edward Kelly as the author of the Voynich manuscript he had previously invented a fantasy language with emperor rudolf ii he had a financially potent as well as gullible buyer of his mysterious writings and formulas today for the first time we can convict the 16th century Dazzler by using modern technology Greg Hodgins of the University of Arizona will take several samples of the Voynich manuscript the manuscript is written on animal skin so it’s age can be precisely determined like any organic material parchment can be dated by the radiocarbon method the book was never before scrutinized in this way since relatively large samples are needed the radiocarbon test had been refused for a long time but now for the first time ever it is possible to determine exactly how old this mysterious manuscript really is to ensure accuracy Greg Hodgins takes four samples from four different pages a few weeks later the lab results arrive and they bring a big surprise for everyone so there are the four measurements from the four samples that

we took from the Voynich manuscript and as I can see the dates are very tightly clustered together it gives a picture of it being created in a relatively short period of time moreover because are so tightly clustered together means we can treat it as one object that’s been dated four times and that increases the precision of the measurement so the mean of those measurements you know in a weighted average gives this result right here so at 95% confidence we can say the age of the Voynich manuscript is 1404 ad 214 38:18 this result is sensational it overthrows all the previous assumptions about the manuscripts origin neither at F&H nor roger bacon could have been the authors Leonardo da Vinci too was born half a century later even Edward Kelly now has a sound alibi he lived one and a half centuries later none of the existing theories had assumed the early 15th century to be the period of the manuscripts creation all relevant methods of examination available today have been applied to the Voynich manuscript it was written around 1420 with this new information one detail and manuscript gets a new meaning on more than 200 pages filled with fantastic sceneries there was only one realistic representation of a city one with towers walls and turrets the ramparts are drawn with so-called Swallowtail battlements in combination with the manuscripts date of origin these turrets take on a special significance later in history Swallowtail turrets were common across europe but in the early 15th century they only existed in northern Italy during the Renaissance period northern Italy was one of the wealthiest and most influential regions of the Western world this is the historical background of the manuscripts creation up to now the way search about the Voynich manuscript lacked a historical anchoring point no one knew in which period or region this surge could be started now this has changed we know where to look it will be exciting to see what further references to the mysterious manuscript will be found in the archives between Milan and Venice having dated the book is a major step forward increasing our chances to really understand the Voynich manuscript one day for the time being the Voynich manuscript remains what it has been for the last 600 years it’s a Hall of Mirrors reflecting east researchers own imagination without ever allowing him a glimpse into its inner secrets [Applause]