The Voynich Manuscript: The World’s most Enigmatic Book from a Skeptical Perspective – Elonka Dunin and Klaus Schmeh

June 27, 2024 @ 19:00 (check your local time)

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The Voynich Manuscript is a handwritten book that probably dates back to the late Middle Ages. It is written in a script that no one can read. The Voynich manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British codebreakers from both the First and Second World Wars. Still, the manuscript has never been demonstrably deciphered, and the mystery of its meaning and origin has excited the popular imagination, making it the subject of speculation and pseudoscience. This presentation explores the background behind the manuscript and its cryptic features. The most important scientific and pseudoscientific theories are covered.

Elonka Dunin is an author, cryptographer, game developer, and management consultant. She is a lifetime member of the International Game Developers Association, Chairperson Emerita and a founding member of the IGDA’s Online Games SIG, and a co-Director of the Global Game Jam from 2011–2014.
nka’s lifelong interest in cryptography became public in 2000 when she was awarded a prize for being the first person to crack the PhreakNIC Code, an up-until-Elonka unsolved puzzle created by the hacker group se2600. After the attacks of September 11th, Elonka helped out with the war on terrorism by teaching government agents about cryptography and what types of codes that Al Qaeda might have been using. From 2012–2022 she was on the Board of Directors for the National Cryptologic (Museum) Foundation. From 2015 to 2018 she chaired the Nashville 2600 Organization, a Tennessee 501(c)(3) Nonprofit Corporation.

Elonka is co-founder and co-leader of a group of cryptographers who are working hard to crack a code on the famous Kryptos sculpture at CIA Headquarters, and led the international team that cracked the related KGB Cyrillic Projector Cipher in 2003. She maintains a list of the World’s most famous unsolved codes on her site, and in 2006, published The Mammoth Book of Secret Codes and Cryptograms. As of 2023, her website has had over 6 million page views. Bestselling author Dan Brown honored Elonka by naming one of the characters in his Da Vinci Code sequel, The Lost Symbol, after her.
Elonka is also an avid Wikipedian, having been elected to administrator status in 2007, and written or expanded over 500 articles on Wikipedia.
In 2020, she co-wrote a book with prolific crypto-blogger Klaus Schmeh, Codebreaking: A Practical Guide.
In 2023, they co-wrote the Expanded Edition of Codebreaking with US publisher No Starch Press. It was released on Amazon on September 19th.

Klaus Schmeh is the most-published cryptology author in the world. He has written 15 books (in German) about the subject, as well as over 200 articles, 25 scientific papers, and 1500 blog posts. He is also a member of the editorial board of the scientific magazine Cryptologia. Klaus’s main fields of interest are codebreaking and the history of encryption. His website Cipherbrain is read by crypto enthusiasts all over the world.

Klaus is a popular speaker, known for his entertaining presentation style involving self-drawn cartoons and Lego models. He has lectured at hundreds of conferences, including the NSA Cryptologic History Symposium, HistoCrypt, the Charlotte International Cryptologic Symposium, and the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

In his day job, Klaus works as a crypto expert for the global IT security company Eviden.