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The Number 17

The number 17 crops up in several places in the VMs, notably on f57v, where it is the number of characters repeating around the 3rd. circle (counting circles from the centre). If any one page of the VMs cries out to be a way in to the cipher, this must be it.

Categories: 17, f57v Tags: , ,
  1. Vytautas Mikalauskas
    March 4, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    I look into this page and see four series of 16, not 17 symbols… 17th symbol in all four sequences looks very close to key image (it’s better seen in Beinecke’s *.SID ) with 3 times folded tail 🙂 This “key symbol” divides symbols series and I am sure it is the source of hypotesis of Steve Ekwall about folding code. Just my IMHO 🙂

    • JB
      March 4, 2010 at 5:27 pm

      Hi Vytautas – many thanks for the comment. I really mean the circle third from the centre, i.e. the circle one in from the outermost 🙂 This has sets of 17 symbols, each set starting with “o” – do you agree? The circle immediately around the figures has a total of 35 symbols, and the connection to 17 is less clear (but still inviting).

      The image is in fact from the SID – with auto colour correction applied.

      The folded tail symbol is very odd.

  2. Vytautas Mikalauskas
    March 5, 2010 at 9:18 am

    Hi, Julian – I see we are looking at the same, but with different angle 🙂 But all my previous comment is totally IMHO, so it’s not necessary true. However I want to express clear my humble opinion:
    IMHO beginnings of sequences on third from center ring ( this word – from notes of Robert Firth 🙂 are not ‘o’, but ‘9’, immediately after ‘folded key’ symbol, which seems a divider to me… Double stroke on third ring and and single strokes on others IMHO are markers of creator ( or copyist). It’s more believe for me this was author 🙂 For thinking – there are 32 symbol groups on second from center ring. Thats all.
    Other my words here are pure speculation, but I think about two levels of cipher… On Voynich list I found idea about “Heads of confusion” cipher, which may be candidate. Count of symbol groups in first and last rings don’t match 16 or 32, but we don’t know enciphering methods, some intuition whisper for me it may be Chaocipher analog – who knows? Maybe things are simpler: used plaintext alphabet was hidden by glyphs and some enciphering from cipherbet (maybe it is f57v ?)was applied. And all MS may be book on cryptography, not about other things… As always, IMHO…

    • JB
      March 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm

      Hi Vytautas – interesting. There are two reasons I think the third ring sequence begins with “o”: 1) because there is a faint vertical line just to its left, and 2) the word that begins “8a…” outside all the rings and lines up with the “o” probably marks the start position for reading the ring text. But this is pure speculation, of course 🙂

      The idea that the whole VMs is a manuscript about ciphers is horrifying! I shall have nightmares now!

      • Vytautas Mikalauskas
        March 6, 2010 at 10:22 am

        Hi Julian,- I think, as I said, vertical single lines may be markers of copyist or author. Wide space there shows the beginning of writing but not beginning of sequence – IMHO. However the word over outside circle near these lines is harder quest for me 🙂 It may be lines and word are for targeting off from REAL beginning – it is possible. It is not common to show cipherbet on enciphered book, some researches of Nick Pelling shows author was master of hiding important details – in circular diagrams too. But this is speculaton 🙂 These vertical lines appears on others circular diagrams, this requres separate review.
        Thanks for answers and opinion, if I will have more cryptographic ideas on VMS, I will try respond on comments there in blog. Good luck.

  3. Salva
    March 23, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    Hi Julian,

    ¡Fantastic work!

    Maths are not my expertice, and apologise also for my english (I’m spanish).

    Three times Seventeen means 51 (3*17=51).

    What 51 could mean “in” the cipher is something out of my capabilities.

    Cheers (with a cold, cold beer)


  4. Salva
    March 23, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Hi again, Julian, and sorry to disturb you.

    Perhaps too much beer, but “51” can be read as “SI”, which in Spanish means “Yes”.

    Definetly, too much beer.



    • JB
      March 23, 2010 at 8:36 pm

      Hi Salva,

      We need more lateral thinking like this, beer-inspired or otherwise! Thanks for your comments 🙂


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