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VMs: Spending lots of money...
At 02:25 30/01/2004 -0800, Rene wrote:
To add some (slightly more) serious content:
I would hope that nobody gets the idea of
funding VMs research with anything like the
millions mentioned recently. Obviously, this
money would not be given to us.
And then someone would take our toy away.
It's like giving your cake to someone else, in
order that he can tell you how good it tasted.
OTOH they might not crack it. And I wonder how
many people on this list would be disheartened
by that :-)
I have a great deal of faith in our statistical and computing tools to
crack systems of which we have some prior knowledge. However, there's
another type of uncertainty, known as "Knightian uncertainty": the early
20th century economist Frank Knight observed that economic forecasting
assumed that all possible futures had been imagined (and had probabilities
assigned) - but that, in practice, plenty always remained unimagined,
wrecking forecasters' best-laid plans.
Here, I believe that the repeated inability of our tools to cast useful
light on the VMs is a strong indication that we're exposed to "Knightian
uncertainty" - despite all our imaginative insight, the VMs remains a black
hole into which our gaze disappears. Hiring a supercomputer would therefore
most likely achieve nothing. :-(
Personally, I'd be happy to spend a million on cracking it (any Microsoft
VPs out there? :-o) - spending (say) $100,000 on a multi-modal physical
examination (of the inks, paints, vellum, pollen, binding stations, etc)
might well help date and/or physically locate the document, as well as
possibly separate out the various hands definitively (and perhaps determine
their precise sequence) and determine its binding history.
With the rest, I'd set up a concerted one-year collaborative historical
research programme to try and understand more about the history. Despite
the authors' attempts to obfuscate the VMs' pictures, I think there are
plenty of tantalising historical clues which remain open - and that the
first step to cracking the language/code/cipher is to understand the
For example, the way I read the VMs, I'm comfortable with a Northern
European (specifically Milanese) origin for it: and I'm also comfortable
with the myth / legend / story that seems to indicate that it was owned by
a Bishop buried at Glastonbury - who I've argued before was most likely to
be Abbot Richard Beere (who died 20th January 1524). He took a
well-documented trip to Italy in 1504 (and I believe at least one more
later on behalf of Henry VIII), and I think there's reasonable suspicion
that Glastonbury Abbey's wealth (and its library's appetite for novelty)
provided a means, motive and opportunity for setting the VMs in motion.
Carefully examining the Abbey court rolls / compotus for the period around
Beere's trips might well help support or refute this notion, which is
arguably as far back as we can reasonably guess at the VMs' provenance.
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....
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