Cryptologic Bytes Highlights
CRYPTOLOGIC BYTES HIGHLIGHTS
This section of our website features a collection of cryptology-related items of interest to those curious about the past, present, and also the future of cryptology. The entries are obtained from various sources, including website visitors, so if you have something of interest, please share it with us at email@example.com. This Highlights page serves as an introduction, but remember to visit the Recent Cryptologic Bytes and Cryptologic Bytes Archives for more items.
Famous Unsolved Codes & Ciphers
Elonka Dunin's Codes & Ciphers website provides an unofficial list of well-known unsolved codes and ciphers, such as the Beale Ciphers, Phaistos Disc (pictured above), and more. A couple of the better-known unsolved ancient historical scripts are also thrown in, since they tend to come up during any discussion of unsolved codes. There has also been an attempt to sort this list by "fame," as defined by a loose formula involving the number of times that a particular cipher has been written about, and/or how many hits it pulls up on a moderately-sorted Web search.
Breakthrough in Voynich Manuscript?
Every year there are many new proposed translations of the Voynich Manuscript, a mysterious 600 year-old manuscript written in an undecipherable code in an unknown language.
In late January 2018, we learned about two Canadian computer scientists, Greg Kondrak and his graduate student Bradley Hauer, who published a study in the journal Transactions of the Association of Computational Linguistics about their efforts to decode the Voynich Manuscript. The scientists from the University of Alberta used an algorithm to try to decode parts of the Voynich Manuscript. They approached the text armed with a computer program of their own design. The algorithm found that 80 percent of the encoded words appeared to be written in Hebrew. With the help of Google Translate, they determined the first sentence read: "She made recommendations to the priest, man of the house and me and people." The researchers say they've determined the language and coding scheme of the text. The next step is to find a scholar well-versed in Hebrew and alphagrams, and then apply this code-breaking technique to other ancient manuscripts.
For more on the Canadian study: Using AI To Uncover Ancient Mysteries - U of Alberta
In February 2014, Bedforshire (UK) University's Stephen Bax said he had deciphered 10 words of the Voynich Manuscript, which would hopefully lead to more discoveries. Read the full article HERE.
Dorabella Cipher Solution by Tim Roberts
Tim Roberts has offered a viable solution to the Dorabella Cipher, an encrypted message sent by the celebrated English composer Edward Elgar to a young lady companion in 1897.
Tim is on the Faculty of Arts, Business, Informatics and Education at CQ University Australia. The Dorabella Cipher is listed on Elonka Dunin's Web site which provides an unofficial list of well-known unsolved codes and ciphers. Tim's solution can be found by clicking on this link to a PDF document.
October 13, 2013 - Slightly revised solution submitted by Tim: "The only difference from the original version is a change in the last line of the key. The order of the symbols that Elgar used in this third line always slightly puzzled me. No longer. The slightly revised key, "Lady Penny, writing in code is a way to keep busy," removes this anomale."
Researchers Decode Copiale Cipher
In October 2011, a team of researchers made headlines for decoding a secret society's 18th century manuscript called the Copiale Cipher. The Copiale Cypher - a mysterious cryptogram bound in gold and green brocade paper -- is a 250-year-old coded document that when decrypted uncovered the inner workings of an 18th-century secret society.
The team of researchers is also working to reveal the secret behind an even more mysterious undecrypted document, the Voynich Manuscript. Found in a chest of books outside Rome by a dealer in antique books, the Voynich Manuscript has remained one of history’s biggest mysteries. Its aging parchment is coated in alien characters and has for centuries mystified scientists. For updated news about the Voynich Manuscript, click HERE.
Chaocipher Clearing House
Moshe Rubin's Web site serves as an online clearing house of information about the Chaocipher. On the site he includes fact, fiction, and folklore about John Byrne's legendary invention from 1918. Unsolved for so many years, it finally took 57 years (from the publication of Byrne's "Silent Years" in 1953 until June 2010) for the cipher algorithm to be revealed.
Included here is link to a short chaocipher animation on YouTube, (pictured above) put together by Nick Pelling.
In Pelling's 3 July 2010 post about the Chaocipher on his site, Ciphermysteries.com, he describes the Chaocipher as follows: “The Chaocipher” is a devious cipher system invented in 1918 by John F. Byrne: allegedly, it was so complex that nobody could crack his challenge ciphertexts (even with the plaintext to refer to!), yet was so simple that its mechanism was claimed to comprise only two rotating disks small enough to fit in a cigar box, and could be operated by a ten-year-old (admittedly a diligent, determined and well-practised one) to encipher and decipher texts.
Nick Pelling's Cipher Mysteries Web Site
Nick Pelling's Web site, Cipher Mysteries is devoted to real unsolved historical code/cipher mysteries, as well as to exploring how those objects get portrayed in books, films, TV, radio, music, opera, sculpture, design, metalworking, eBay scams, etc. Find the latest on unsolved codes and ciphers such as the Voynich Manuscript, the Kryptos sculpture at CIA, Bellaso's Ciphers, and many others. You can subscribe to receive daily alerts/updates.