Beginning in 1808, a young man begins keeping a secret, ciphered journal of his life with terse detail of his days. Astronomical observations, interpersonal relationships (to put it mildly), weather notes, and the minutiae of a planter's life in 19th Century North Carolina were collected into these volumes that were nearly lost, decoded in 1979 and mostly forgotten again. The Coded Life of William Thomas Prestwood.
Someone is leaving what appear to be coded messages in the stacks of Weldon Library at the University of Western Ontario. (via)
While the concept of shunya or "zero", both as place holder in the decimal system and as "null" or "nothingness" has been historically attributed to the Indian mathematician/astronomer Aryabhata, it was when I went to search for its history and impact that whole new world was revealed. From culture and art to spiritual practice, the concept of zero has captured the imagination of many throughout the ages. Books have been written, its origins debated while the etymology of the word itself sometimes replaces understanding. From a disconcerting concept of nothingness to the ubiquitous misspelling of the one followed by a hundred zeros, Shunya today is more than just the gaping void it originally represented.
A new attempt to decipher the Voynich manuscript has been made - this time from a botanical perspective. The Voynich manuscript, is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The book has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century (1404–1438), and may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The manuscript is named after Wilfrid Voynich, a book dealer who purchased it in 1912.[Wiki]. [more inside]
The “Copiale Cipher” is a 105 pages manuscript containing all in all around 75 000 characters. Beautifully bound in green and gold brocade paper, written on high quality paper with two different watermarks, the manuscript can be dated back to 1760-1780. [...] the manuscript is completely encoded.[more inside]
Corey Starliper of Tewksbury, Massachusetts believes he has solved the last Zodiac serial killer cipher and has identified the person who terrorized northern California in the late '60s. "Zodiac sent encrypted communication to area newspapers, taking credit for the killings and warning of more to come ..." His most famous: a 340-character cipher, "was mailed to the San Francisco Chronicle, according to zodiackillerfacts.com. To this day, the cipher has not been completely cracked. Starliper, however, believes he has found the solution to that code." [more inside]
Using pioneering animation techniques to create a look never seen on film before, this 10-minute award-winning film tells the true legend of history's most challenging cipher....The film contains 16 hidden messages that reveal the larger story at play. Eight are fairly easy and require only a close eye. Six are moderately difficult using various encryption methods. Two are extremely difficult and will require a genius mind to decrypt. [more inside]
XKCD author Randall Munroe appears to have left a neat little cryptographic puzzle for Reddit users in his new book. They're trying to decipher it.
Thomas Jefferson's cipher message from Robert Patterson For more than 200 years, buried deep within Thomas Jefferson's correspondence and papers, there lay a mysterious cipher -- a coded message that appears to have remained unsolved. Until now.... To Mr. Patterson's view, a perfect code had four properties: It should be adaptable to all languages; it should be simple to learn and memorize; it should be easy to write and to read; and most important of all, "it should be absolutely inscrutable to all unacquainted with the particular key or secret for decyphering." [more inside]
Christopher Farmer of Opord Analytical has just posted his solution (PDF) to part 4 of the much studied "Kryptos" cipher. He's recently cracked Zodiac Killer ciphers thought unsolvable for nearly 40 years and has a theory (PDF) about the Zodiac Killer's possible identity that is hard to be ignored. Mr. Farmer freely shares his many discoveries on his website's forum board.
In March 2007, the FermiLab Office of Public Affairs in Batavia, IL "received a curious message in code" via USPS. In May 2008, scientists posted a facsimile image of the letter to their blog in the hopes of soliciting cryptologists to decipher the letter. [more inside]
The Codex Seraphinianus, that rare and amazing volume, has been scanned in high-res glory and posted to Flickr. If you are lucky enough to afford it, copies are available. Previously.
If you work at Langley and you need a break from actual intelligence gathering, you can always try to crack the code to the sculpture right outside the cafeteria window. Kryptos is a sculpture by James Sanborn located on the CIA grounds which contains a four-part coded message: sections 1-3 have been solved (with Sanborn admitting he made a typo in section 2). Perhaps you'd like to join Elonka (and the hive mind) in having a go at section 4.
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The most mysterious manuscript in the world. The Voynich Manuscript is 235 page manuscript written in a cipher that has yet to be decoded. The manuscript includes many images. Almost all pages of the manuscript are available online. There have also been several books (1,2)written claiming to solve the manuscript. You can also follow the modern day progress of deciphering the Voynich manuscript.