Part of the mystery behind an 'alien' book no one can read has at last been unraveled.
Found in a chest of books outside Rome by a dealer in antique books, the Voynich manuscript is among literature's great mysteries. The book of aging parchment is written in alien characters, some resembling Latin letters, others unlike anything used in any known language, and arranged into what appear to be words and sentences -- except they don't resemble anything written or read by human beings.
And for decades, the manuscript has mystified scientists.
"Is it a code, a cipher of some kind?" asked Greg Hodgins, a physicist with the University of Arizona. "People are doing statistical analysis of letter use and word use -- the tools that have been used for code breaking. But they still haven't figured it out," Hodgins said.
The DaVinci Code was fiction. The Voynich manuscript is real -- and its code remains one of history's biggest mysteries. But at least Hodgins has solved part of the mystery behind the book: it's age.
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