Oops, that was a nice conference I just missed… :-(

The NSA’s 2011 Cryptologic History Symposium (held in Johns Hopkins) ran yesterday and today, and had plenty of names long-suffering Cipher Mysteries readers will doubtless recognize in a flash:-

* Dr. Jim Reeds, Institute for Defense Analyses: “Editing the ‘General Report on TUNNY’”
* Dr. Benedek Lang, Budapest University of Technology and Economics: “Towards a Social History of Early Modern Cryptography”
* Elonka Dunin, Independent Scholar: “Kryptos–The Decades-Old Enigma at Langley”

(Personally, I’d also love to have heard this presentation:-
* Erin Higgins, Department of Defense: “Humanism, Magic, and Cryptology in the Renaissance”)

However, arguably the big cipher mystery story of the conference was the fact that Panel session 4B, moderated by David C. Cooley from the NSA/CSS Center for Cryptologic History, was devoted to “Investigating the Voynich Manuscript” and with two Voynich speakers well-known from recent talks and results (respectively):-
* Klaus Schmeh, Independent Scholar: “New Research on the Voynich Manuscript”
* Dr. Greg Hodgins, University of Arizona: “Radiocarbon Dating and the Voynich Manuscript”

Could I perhaps tempt any attendee to email me a short description of the conference that I can put up here as a guest post? Cheers!


  1. avatar Klaus October 8, 2011 10:41 am

    The NSA Symposium was a really great event. Unfortunately only about 25 people came to see the Voynich track (the rest preferred a track dealing with some intelligence history topic). I was surprised to learn that many attendants didn’t even know what the Voynich manuscript is. The track started with an overview presentation given by me. I included some comedy elements (here is a video of a similar talk I gave a few weeks before, however in German: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgJGYi1sRl0). After me radiocarbon expert Greg Hodgins explained in his presentation how he had dated the manuscript. He gave many details I hadn’t known before.
    The feedback Greg and I got was very positive. As it seems, many conference attendants regretted not having attended the Voynich track.
    The presentations of Benedek, Elonka and Erin were all very interesting. I didn’t see the one of Jim Reeds, but I talked to him. He is not interested in the VM any more.
    I am currently writing a (German) article on the event. I also made an interview with Greg Hodgins, which will be published in the German Skeptics magazine and in the online magazine Telepolis.


  2. avatar Dennis October 10, 2011 4:10 pm

    Hi Nick and Klaus! It sounds like a great symposium! I’m sorry to hear that so few attended the VMs session, and that veteran VMs researcher Jim Reeds has lost interest.

    The talk by Benedek Lang sounds very interesting, and highly Voynich-relevant. I look forward to hearing more about it.

  3. avatar Klaus October 10, 2011 8:53 pm
  4. avatar nickpelling October 10, 2011 10:40 pm

    Klaus: excellent, thanks for passing that on! Fascinating to hear that Benedek Lang might have started to make real progress with breaking the Rohonc Codex, fingers crossed for him!


  5. avatar Klaus October 10, 2011 11:49 pm

    Just to avoid misunderstandings: It is not Benedek himself, who claims to be close to a solution, but two other Hungarians. However, it was Benedek who announced this.


  6. avatar nickpelling October 11, 2011 7:23 am

    Klaus: ah, then sadly my confidence is very much reduced. :-( But I remain hopeful all the same! :-)


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