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Bay Area Skeptics' SkepTalk - The Voynich Manuscript, by Norm Sperling

The Voynich Manuscript is probably the world's most mysterious book.

It is a 232-page illuminated manuscript written in an entirely unknown language. The Voynich Manuscript's stylized script and exotic drawings give it the aura of a medieval masterwork. Experts estimate that it is at least 500 years old, and they associate it with names like Roger Bacon, John Dee, and Emperor Rudolph II. Since its (re)discovery just 100 years ago, the Voynich Manuscript has defeated the world's greatest linguists and cryptographers. Its nature and meaning remain a complete mystery.


Norman Sperling has been a planetarium director, a designer and inventor of astronomical instruments, an editor of websites, magazines, and books, and author of hundreds of articles and blog posts. Norm joined the Bay Area Skeptics in 1984, becoming a board member in 1986 and vice-chair in 1991. Norm teaches astronomy for the University of California at Berkeley. He edits the science humor magazine, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and blogs HERE. Interested in the Voynich Manuscript since reading about it in 1962, Norm examined the manuscript in person in 1980. Our speaker may have no new answers, but he will help us explore some wonderful questions.

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