The Date of Folio f68r1

I wrote a paper (announcement and link below) containing evidence of the date of f68r1 being 18 July 1533, showing the Great Comet of that year. I’m not going to rewrite the paper here; if you want details, read it.

To further call attention to it, I have made a new page with the diagrams. The link is above. (I am having trouble getting them set the way I want them, so expect modifications.)

The first is the folio in question. The second is a diagram of the comet’s path from Apian’s Astronomicum Caesarium 1540. The third is the folio and diagram overlaid, The fourth is a star chart from Starry Night Pro 4.

This date refutes the idea that the vellum of the VMs was used immediately after creation, circa 1420. Other dates found in the Astro section cluster near the late 15th Century (see the earlier entry).

“Degrees of Freedom”

One of the most common objections to a proposed translation method is to invoke “degrees of freedom”. This multiplies the letters and gives the total of possible combinations. If anagrams or dropped letters are allowed, this increases the total.

So it’s “Whoops, your method has too many degrees of freedom, so the results can be almost anything.” The ones objecting stop here, aka ‘hit brick wall, end of story’. But that is NOT the end of the story. As raw math, “degrees of freedom” is valid, but it ignores the rules imposed that reduce the number of possible answers.

It’s exactly the same as an argument I’ve seen advanced by Creationists: “There are so many elements that the odds against certain ones combining to make life are astronomical. Therefore a Creator is necessary.” That too is raw math, and ignores the rules of chemistry that make the odds of the right elements combining a near certainty.

As an idealized example I am using the first label I cracked, by the large star in the upper left pie slice of f68r3. It is laid out in what I call a breakdown box. This is NOT the VMs decoding method, but a workaround I use in my label research. These are Set 1 letter values, and the word is complete (on the folio the 2nd A and R were dropped).

There is a length of 9 letters, 6 different, and 5 have alternate values with 2 connected. If I understood correctly, there are 1134 possible strings. If that was all there was to the method, there would indeed be too many possibilities.

However, imposing rules changes that:

1. Discard all nonsense strings.
2. Discard words of other than 9 letters.

The program WordFind has a lexicon of ~150,000 words, and running the values returns 14,  reducing the number of possible strings by 98.7%:


These results are filtered through a third rule: in any Voynich word, a given letter may have only one value. (That is, EVA Ch is either E or S, and any word containing both is invalid.)

That leaves one valid result: Aldebaran.

The lesson here is that one should not be so quick to reject a method based solely on a lowest-level mathematical calculation.

Gallows Humour

There isn’t much in the way of humor involving the VMs. I’ve seen a few cartoons and a parody of a Zodiac folio with Mickey Mouse in the center, but that’s about it.

So to change that situation, a couple of years ago I did a series of cartoons using the gallows letters as the protagonists. At the moment there are twelve, but more may be forthcoming, if I get inspired again.

These can also be found on the J.VS site, and my deviantART page. The link is above.

My Voynich Research

The article in Sky and Telescope magazine years ago is what alerted me to the existence of the VMs. I found it to be fascinating, and after several months of research joined the main email list. My 10th anniversary there is on 21 Dec 2012, so that will be to blame for the end of the world. : )

A few years ago I was invited to join the Journal of Voynich Studies, an online journal and library (link in the sidebar) with important research available. I felt honored to be taken seriously enough to get the invite.

My work was also mentioned in Kennedy and Churchill’s book The Voynich Manuscript. I even made the index! : )  However, what is there is outdated now.

The dating of the vellum a few years ago to 1404-1438 provides a lower limit  to the creation of the book, but does not preclude a later date.

I work primarily with the Astro/Cosmo section, and to a lesser extent the Zodiac and Recipes sections. (I agree with GC that the Recipes section is an Almanac, so I will be using that term from now on.)

It is my contention that the Astro section depicts real astronomical events, as well as astrological interpretations of them.

I have recently had the idea that the Zodiac section might be a detailed analysis of the events depicted. For example, If each nymph represents 1° of the sign, then the stars with tethers might represent a comet and where they appear together is the comet’s path through the sign. I haven’t yet started investigating this idea.