Has A.I. Finally Decoded Bizarre 600-Year-Old Voynich Manuscript?
An esoteric text, discovered over a century ago has left cryptographers and linguists puzzled for decades, but now artificial intelligence may finally decipher the enigmatic content of the Voynich Manuscript.
Carbon dating shows that this esoteric text was written sometime in the 15th century by an unknown author. Its modern provenance has been attributed to an Italian antique book collector, Wilfred Voynich, whom it was named after.
The manuscript contains writings on calfskin parchment that look like a cross between ancient Celtic and some amalgam of middle eastern text. It is thought to be encrypted using a series of cyphers, including anagrams, micrographic shorthand, and abbreviations.
Since its discovery was publicized in 1912, cryptographers and even WWII codebreakers have tried to decipher its contents to no avail, leading many to label it a hoax or simply full of gibberish. In addition to the bizarre inscriptions, the manuscript contain a number of strange illustrations that have led some to believe it to be either alchemical instructions or a book of medicine.
But now, Greg Kondrak, an expert in natural language processing at the University of Alberta, is using artificial intelligence to solve this age-old mystery. The computer algorithm used to translate the text implements information from the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” which contains over 400 different languages.
Their first discovery: the script is an encoded version of Hebrew.
They believe that one of the cyphers may be anagrams alphabetically ordered, showing 80 percent of the words decoded this way as Hebrew. Kondrak and his team have also deciphered a near grammatically correct first sentence that reads:
“She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people.”
The rest of the script remains somewhat encrypted with incongruent words and phrases that have yet to be untangled. Kondrak’s next goal is to bring in someone with more knowledge of ancient Hebrew and its possible ambiguities, as he’s currently been relying on Google translate.
Secrets of Alchemy
Virginia Town Challenges Free Tarot Reading at New Age Store
When Mark Mullins thought to attract customers by offering free tarot readings at his new age store in rural Virginia, the city quickly informed him he was violating zoning laws. Now, Mullins finds himself embroiled in a battle with the city, accusing the council of pandering to religious zealots and impinging on his first amendment right of protected speech.
Mullins and his partner, Jerome VanDyke, own Mountain Magic and Tarot in downtown Richlands, Virginia. A six-year resident of the community, Mullins became interested in tarot as a teenager, saying his love for heavy metal sparked an interest in mysticism and the occult.
“I just wanted to read anything I could find on magic,” Mullins told Gaia in a recent interview. “It was the first thing I became obsessed with and it’s lasted 30 years.”
Mullins and VanDyke are the first openly gay couple to open a business in the rural, and overwhelmingly Christian town, admitting they sometimes face discrimination. But the two don’t seem phased by the occasional bigotry; instead they say local residents take greater issue with misconceptions surrounding the nature of their trade.
Richlands is a small, quiet community in the southwestern corner of the state, with a population of just over 4,000 residents. Prominently displayed on the town’s website is its motto, “The center of a friendly circle.” It touts itself as being one of the most peaceful towns in the state, and promotes its annual “Freedom Festival.”