In a piece of news that will no doubt have skeptics balking, a theoretical physicist from the UK says that the oft-studied, oft-declared-hoax, and completely mysterious Voynich Manuscript is probably not as fake as people have been saying it is.
Since at least 1912, researchers of all kinds, from WW2 era code crackers, to language specialists, to mathematicians have all attempted to decipher the strange scrawling contained within the Voynich Manuscript, a book that dates back to the 1400s. Some believe the text contains medicinal, or astronomical significance, while others have theorized that the secret writings contain alchemical guides or even magic spells. But after almost a century of unsuccessful attempts to crack the Voynich code, the numbers of those who would believe the manuscript to be a hoax is at an all time high.
Cue Marcelo Montemurro, a theoretical physicist from the University of Manchester, who has spent several years toiling away at the text, and has announced that he believes there to be a “genuine message” contained deep within the mysterious writings.
“The text is unique, there are no similar works and all attempts to decode any possible message in the text have failed. It’s not easy to dismiss the manuscript as simple nonsensical gibberish, as it shows a significant [linguistic] structure,” he told BBC News.
Montemurro and his colleague used complex computer programs to analyze how often certain words appeared in the text, their arrangements in sentences, and other factors, and were able to determine that there is “substantial proof” that the writing isn’t simply gibberish, but genuinely intended to be read. But by whom?
“The semantic networks we obtained clearly show that related words tend to share structure similarities. This also happens to a certain degree in real languages.”
Even Craig Bauer, author of Secret History: The Story of Cryptology and one of the manuscript’s numerous skeptics admits that the new information has changed his opinion on whether the text is a hoax.
“It could solve a major crime, reveal buried treasure worth millions or in the case of the Voynich manuscript, rewrite the history of science,” he said. “However, I still feel that it’s very much an open question and I may change my mind a few times before a proof is obtained one way or the other.”
Of course, this new evidence won’t convince everyone, but Montemurro remains unfazed by the skeptics.
“After this study, any new support for the hoax hypothesis should address the emergence of this sophisticated structure explicitly. So far, this has not been done.”
For more information on Marcelo Montemurro’s work cracking the Voynich Manuscript, be sure to check out his peer-reviewed study published in the journal PLOS ONE, which for most of us, also reads like an undecipherable riddle.
What do you think of the new information on the mysterious manuscript? Has it changed your mind on whether the ancient text is a hoax or not? We want to know what you think! Share your thoughts with us on Facebook, tweet us @WeirdHQ, or leave a comment below!