I'm a big fan of Martian Lit, a website that serves up a variety of nonfiction and fiction articles and stories with the conceit that it's all written by Martians, and which is the home of one of the best stories I've read in a long time, The Many Lives Of Yelena Moulin. (My review of that story is here.)
But as good as the writing on that site is, I somehow doubt that it's what aliens would write, if they could (or do) write books and short stories, and (why not?) blogs.
Which is why I don't think the Voynich Manuscript is necessarily an alien book. (Well, one reason why.) But you can decide for yourself -- at least until I point out to you that it is, in fact, an alien manuscript and that's been proven.
The Voynich Manuscript is, to be brief, a book brought to light by a books dealer in 1912 or so; Wilfrid Voynich said he got an assortment of medieval manuscripts from a dealer in Europe, and the now-eponymous manuscript among them. The book (a screen shot of which is at the left) contains illustrations and other sort-of-science-y items in it, and lots of writing, but the writing is in a language that nobody can understand.
The parchment in the manuscript dates back to the Middle Ages; some people suspect that Voynich may have forged it. There have been many attempts to translate it and claims made that it was translated, but none of them have panned out. The leading theory is not that it was written by an alien -- I sort of threw that in here -- but that it was written by Roger Bacon.
Here's another page:
Roger Bacon, according to this site, was a Fransiscan friar and early proponent of the scientific method. He wrote a series of books at the request of Pope Clement IV, back when the Catholic Church wasn't afraid of science. Why would he write a book in an indecipherable code that reportedly drove one researcher insane? Again, from that site:
He kept much of his work secret from his fellow Franciscans, but nonetheless, in 1278 they imprisoned him on the charge of "suspected novelties" in his teaching. In his Letter on the Secret Works of Art and the Nullity of Magic, he wrote "The man is insane who writes a secret in any other way than one which will conceal it from the vulgar and make it intelligible only with difficulty even to scientific men and earnest students.... Certain persons have achieved concealment by means of letters not then used by their own race or others but arbitrarily invented by themselves."Did the Voynich Manucript actually make a man insane? Maybe. According to this site, Voynich turned a copy of the manuscript over to Dr. William Romaine Newbold.
Dr. William Romaine Newbold, of the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the greatest students of medieval philosophy and science. Newbold possessed the advantage that he was familiar with medieval methods of thought, was versed in occult sciences, and, he was also a cryptographer. Newbold started work on deciphering the Voynich MS in 1919.I miss the days when university professors thought it was to their credit to be "versed in the occult sciences." Hogwarts Forever!
Through a process of decoding, Newbold said that he found that
The biological drawings in the text were described asseminiferous tubes, the microscopic cells with nuclei, and even spermatozoa. Among the astronomical drawings were the descriptions of spiral nebulae, a coronary eclipse, and the comet of 1273. One of the more baffling things about this was that many of the drawings of plants, and of the galaxies appeared to have been invented.This was not without controversy, and a touch of the alienish:
Other assailants made particular note of the drawing that represented the nebula Andromeda. Based on the fact that the spiral nebula in Andromeda lies edge on to earthly observers, Bacon would have had to have an incredibly powerful telescope to view such a thing. But, as we have noted, no one was really claiming that he did.Isn't that exactly what one was claiming? How would Bacon (or whoever wrote the manuscript) know in the 13th century that Andromeda was a spiral galaxy without seeing it?
In any event, it's not clear where the claim that Newbold went insane as a result of working on the manuscript comes from. His official biography mentions nothing of the idea. But this site says that he did go mad, without accrediting the statement.
So what does this all have to do with aliens? Well, not to worry you overly much, but apparently the Voynich Manuscript was written by aliens speaking a garbled sort of Hebrew and they've predicted, via that book, how the world will end. Lucky for us, right!?
The author of this site, who credibly determines that Jesus was visited by extraterrestrials:
"Credibly" should, by the way, be followed by the punctuation for sarcasm. I would put that punctuation in here, but I haven't enough money to buy it. I'm glad we live in a brave new world where punctuation can be part of the class warfare, with the rich able to denote their sarcasm via text, while we 99%ers have to just hope people get the gist of it. (People never do.)
Anyway, the guy who posted that bona fide, iron-clad proof that Jesus is not only every superhero but also probably an alien, worked his way through a not-at-all entirely speculative translation (seriously, someone loan me $5 to buy a SarcMark) of the Voynich Manuscript, and has this to say about what that book tells us:
It isn't a pretty picture. It deals with what we know today as the End Times. Now, religiously, the time of the end is a period where the evil are destroyed and the good survive. Depending on whose ancient version you read, you will get variations of that theme. Our problem is that scientifically, this supposed "God-sent destruction" has been scientifically proven to be a cyclical destruction that comes from an explosion at the center of our galaxy. It comes every 13-26,000 years, and has been called by Dr. Paul LaViolette "a Galactic Superwave." The last large explosion brought our last Ice Age to a rapid end, flooding much of the planet.
I don't know why scientists and theologians are always fighting when the Voynich Manuscript ties it all neatly into one Universal Theory of Everything (God particle indeed!) by noting that the supposed "God-sent" destruction has been scientifically proven to have ended the last Ice Age.
So there you have it: A mad Professor of the Occult at the University of Pennsylvania has decoded a mysterious book written by a monk at the direction of the Pope, which book contains detailed alien proof of the Galactic Superwave that will destroy us all on December 21, 2012.
What? That's what I got out of it. Here is your Star Wars Question Of The Day (Question 59, for those counting), worth 32 points:
What was Mawhonic's species?
I don't even know who Mawhonic was, so 15 points for telling me what or who that is, as I don't have time to look it up. Plus commenter number 2 gets 10 points if he/she isn't commenter 1, and the last commenter gets 10 points, also.
Check it out here, and make sure you check out his A to Z Challenge entries; each one is fleshing out the fictional world in which his Scarlet Knight superhero lives; with the book coming out, you'll want to know the world pretty well when you read it. (It makes the experience all the richer, you see. Like those maps Tolkien put in. Or the way Dickens encoded a secret message to his readers through Mr. Wopsle's dialogue, leading his followers to try to blow up the Parliament.)
Michael Offutt has had his points restored. He had a good excuse why he didn't answer the WHAMMY! question.
Rusty claimed he had 40,000 points. I don't quite buy that but I think he had 4,200, so I've restored his points and given him Lara's, as per her request, and given him 200 bonus points to help make up for my mistake. Remember, people can give you points, so if there's someone in the standings who hasn't taken part much, ask them for your points.
Other ways to earn points:
Write your blogfest entry! The Triweekly Blogfest Challenge -- prize is $10 -- is to post something on the theme of "Han shot first, but Time-Traveling Elvis shot second" by April 29. Leave a link to your post in the comments to this post. You'll get 100 points for posting it, plus 5 for mentioning the blogathon.
You can get 1,000 points by mentioning the Yellow Hill fundraiser on your blog; here's the post where I explain that, and you can click here to go directly to the Yellow Hill fundraising page. If you don't want the points, you can in the alternative link to/mention it and get a free book of mine.(Find my books here.) (If you've done this, leave me a link and I'll get you the points.)
And I'm going to put another bounty out: 500 points if you get Julian Darius, or anyone from Martian Lit, to leave a comment here.
Here are the Star Wars Blogathon standings; check your point total here.