If you’re a history buff, you might not know much particle physics. But the two fields share more in common than you’d think. X-rays from a high-energy lab have revealed ancient Greek medical texts that had been stripped and covered with religious writing. READ MORE: Particle Accelerator Reveals Ancient Greek Medical Text Beneath Religious Psalms on Parchment | Gizmodo
Even the cryptographers who cracked Nazi Enigma codes couldn’t read the Voynich, but Greg Kondrack of the University of Alberta may just have. READ: Edmonton computer scientist using artificial intelligence to decipher mysterious manuscript | National Post
The leaves are the remains of a severely scorched early book, or codex, written in southern Egypt some time between AD 400 and 600. In a basement laboratory of the Morgan Library and Museum in New York, an X-ray scanner is pumping invisible beams into a clump of charred parchment leaves that looks as delicate as a long dead flower…READ MORE: Scientists are X-ray scanning an ancient biblical text that’s so old, they’re afraid to open it | National Post
More recent update from Arstechnica: So much for that Voynich manuscript “solution” | Ars Technica Librarians would have “rebutted it in a heartbeat,” says medieval scholar. Unfortunately, say experts, his analysis was a mix of stuff we already knew and stuff he couldn’t possibly prove.
The mysterious Voynich manuscript has finally been decoded | Ars Technica
Since its discovery in 1969, the 15th century Voynich Manuscript has been a mystery and a cult phenomenon. Full of handwriting in an unknown language or code, the book is heavily illustrated with weird pictures of alien plants, naked women, strange objects, and zodiac symbols. Now, history researcher and television writer Nicholas Gibbs appears to have cracked the code, discovering that the book is actually a guide to women’s health that’s mostly plagiarized from other guides of the era.
Although one may not have interest in religion or reading the Bibliotheca text, you have to have full admiration for the dedication of the Bibliotheca project creators and the commitment to developing a quality product. Great case study for crowdfunding and design concepts.
New software tools have enabled scientists to read an ancient, damaged Hebrew scroll without ever unfurling the fragile, disintegrating parchment.
The digitization techniques, known as “volume cartography,” transformed what were the charred remains of the nearly 2,000-year-old En-Gedi scroll into legible columns of handwritten text from the book of Leviticus, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.
“We are reading a real scroll that hasn’t been read for millennia,” said Brent Seales, who helped develop the cartography techniques and is a computer sciences professor at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
There are some books that are simply too delicate to crack open — the last thing you want to do is destroy an ornate medieval Bible simply because you’re curious about its contents. If MIT has its way, though, you won’t have to stay away. Its scientists have crafted a computational imaging system that can read the individual pages of a book while it’s closed. Their technology scans a book using terahertz radiation, and relies on the tiny, 20-micrometer air gaps between pages to identify and scan those pages one by one. A letter interpretation algorithm (of the sort that can defeat captchas) helps make sense of any distorted or incomplete text. READ MORE: MIT uses radiation to read closed books | engadget
Scientists have been arguing over the authenticity of an ancient document called the Grolier Codex for 50 years. A new analysis published in a special section of the journal Maya Archaeology has concluded that the codex is indeed genuine, making it the oldest surviving manuscript from the pre-Colombian era. READ MORE: Controversial Maya Codex Is the Real Deal After All | Gizmodo
The 17th century manuscript, which was handwritten by Isaac Newton, describes a procedure for making mercury—a substance that alchemists thought could turn lead into gold. Sir Isaac Newton Image: Godfrey Kneller As reported in Chemistry World, the US Chemical Heritage Foundation has purchased the document, which languished in a private collection for decades. The newly surfaced manuscript was authored by an American chemist but handwritten and owned by Isaac Newton.
Pompeii has the best press, but the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD also buried the town of Herculaneum. Charred scrolls were recovered from the town library in 1752, and Italian scientists just discovered it might be possible to use X-ray technology to read them. Their findings were published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. READ MORE: We Might Finally Be Able to Read Ancient Scrolls Damaged By Vesuvius Eruption | Gizmodo