Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"World's most mysterious book may be a hoax," by John Whitfield. Nature Science Update,17 December 2003.

The Voynich manuscript is a 16th century book in code which has eludeddecryption since its creation. Gordon Rugg of Keele University (UK) now claimsthat the book is a hoax and that its contents are mere gibberish. An argumentagainst the hoax theory is that aspects of the book, such as word lengths, havea complexity similar to that of real languages. Rugg believes, however, thatan old device, the Cardan grille, could account for the complexity while stillrendering meaningless text. Other experts say that Rugg's argument isplausible but they are not ready to believe that the book is a hoax. Rugg'sresearch is published in Cryptologia,in the first (quarterly) issue of 2004.

--- Mike Breen