I am planning to do a visualization of the text in the Voynich Manuscript for my ICM final. The Voynich Manuscript is an early 15th century enciphered text that has stumped cryptographers for centuries. The author is unknown.
Nearly every page of the manuscript contains a detailed illustration. Their subject matter seems to divide the book into six distinct sections: herbal, astronomical, biological, cosmological, pharmaceutical, and recipes. With the exception of one or two drawings, none of the plant life depicted in the manuscript matches known species. The astronomy section contains zodiacal imagery, but omits capricorn and aquarius.
The manuscript has roughly 170,000 discrete glyphs, and 35,000 words. Statistical analysis of the manuscript’s text shows that it contains many of the patterns of natural language. The word entropy– or frequency of appearance of a given word– is similar to English or Latin texts. However, the manuscript is very unlike European languages in other respects– very few words have 10 or more letters, and there are very few one- or two-letter words. There are also some words that repeat up to the three times in a row in the text.
I would like to play around with visualizing the text. I was thinking, for example, about illustrating the frequency of letterforms by giving each symbol a discrete color. I was imagining that perhaps you could mouse over a given color block to see the underlying symbol that it represents. I would also like to visualize the frequency of words, the length of words, and perhaps the frequency of different letter pairings. I would like to use the colors and iconography of the manuscript’s illustrations to inform the aesthetic of my visualization.