The Voynich Manuscript is without a doubt the 'holy grail' of cryptographers and linguists around the globe. Produced likely in the late 15th century, it is an illustrated collection of approximately 246 pages written in some unknown language or script, the papers have become an enigmatic bane to those who call historical cryptography their discipline. Since its introduction into the mainstream of the scientific community roughly around 1915, attempts to translate the manuscript have proved fruitless. Priests, historians, linguists and even code breakers from World War II, all of whom were eventually defeated by the mysterious manuscript, have studied it vigilantly. But that is not to say that their have not been numerous theories and alleged 'solutions' to the document with the earliest modern of these dating back to 1919, with claims that it was actually the work of 13th century empiricist Roger Bacon, who was well versed in the fields of languages and astrology. But alas, such theories have been proven and disprove countless times over and it is likely that the document will forever remain shrouded in mystery. And what of it do we know? Unfortunately, the history of the manuscript is filled with several holes, and it is even more than evident that there are also pages missing from the document itself. The best place to start, however, is with its introduction to the world at large by a Polish book-dealer and antiquarian named Wilfred Voynich of whom the manuscript gets its name. Acquired along with thirty other manuscripts and documents, the piece quickly became a jewel in his collection, passing to his widow after his death. The Voynich Manuscript now lies in the possession of Yale University and summaries of each page can be found here. The language that is written within the document is said to be alphabetical in nature, containing anywhere from nineteen to twenty-eight characters, none of which bear any resemblance to the European lettering system. It appears, by all accounts, to also follow the principles of Zipf's Laws regarding natural language, and also seems to adhere to some sort of phonetic law as well. This has led many proclaim that it is proof of the manuscripts authenticity but again, nothing has been proven. Only a handful of the pages contain solely the mysterious text, the rest being filled abundantly with odd drawings and illustrations: unidentified plants, charts containing objects that seem to be things that should require telescopes and microscopes to be seen, herbal recipes, etc. Judging from the placement of such pictures, scholars on the subject have divide the manuscript into six distinct 'chapters,' one of the oddest, in my mind, being the section dubbed 'Biological.' Within it, the illustrations mostly show series of naked women bathing in tubs of a sort that are connected by plumbing that resembles, in most cases, organs in the human anatomy. As of yet, there have been no definitive translations of the Voynich Manuscript, though claims certainly have been made but the lack of any sort of progress has led many to dismiss it as an elaborate hoax, either being a 16th century forgery or by Voynich's own hand. The latter of these has more or less been disproved by expert dating of the document and letters from the 17th century that reference it. This much, however, is certain: hoax or not, the power that this collection of pages has held over the cryptographic community has been staggering. One would be a fool to think that the possibility of unlocking the potential mysteries they possess will be drawing code breakers and linguists of all kinds to it's alluring scripts and illustration for years to come.