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Re: Re: VMs: Spending lots of money...

Hi Luis,

At 13:22 30/01/2004 -0500, Luis Velez wrote:
Funding a collective research effort, even at a virtual level, is possible if there are clear established goals that would justify in their achievement the disbursement to be made by the sponsors. In other words, expectations must be reasonably feasible to meet and reasonably rewarding, if met.

And there's the catch - without well-defined goals, such a project is unlikely to happen, even if a random Microsoft VP suddenly turns out to want it to back it (might the Beinecke sell the VMs to Bill Gates? My guess is probably no... but you never know). :-o

I have a load of particular research leads which I think would be good to follow: but these arise directly from my particular view of the VMs, not from anyone else's. So - unless everyone agrees overnight that I'm probably right (which I think we can rule out happening, based on past form), we'd need a rich sponsor willing to bet a million dollars on basic research, but based only on my personal say-so. Riiiight. :-( While this is within the realms of extreme possibility (all Microsoft VPs, note my email address above), I'm really not holding my breath. :-o

Still, I think most of us would agree the investing in a physical analysis of the VMs, some extremely hi-res scans (and some multi-spectral ones too), and some basic history of cryptography resources (see below) would be a good way of spending someone else's money. :-)

In setting these goals, do we try to sell a super ambitious endeavor to break the cypher? (I'd love to see the project summary to that one!). I would much rather try to seek financing for a comprehensive analysis of "contemporary" manuscripts that are digitally available, which would hopefully land the much-sought-after clue that we've been looking for. After all, isn't that what many of us have been doing for free (and for fun) all these years?

Making more cipher ledgers digitally available on the web would be good - not just Urbinate 998 from 1440-1469, but also the Gabriele de Lavinde ledger from 1379, and the second Milanese cipher ledger (given in Cerione)... are there any more (I'm thinking particularly in Venice) I've missed? Scans of some contemporary ciphered documents from Milan (preferably matching ciphers from Tranchedino) would help link our conceptions of cryptographic theory and practice.

Also, an accessible translation of Alberti's comments on cryptography and his cipher disk would probably be very helpful: and perhaps a translation of the al-Qalqashandi Arabic encyclopaedia entry on cryptography too. These are all pre-1500 history of cryptography primary sources to which everyone should have access before forming an opinion on whether the VMs is (or isn't) a cipher.

Note that Lou Kruh's collection has a copy of: Bosworth, C.E. The Section on Codes and their Decipherment in Qalqashandi's Subh Al-A' Sha. Journal of Semetic Studies, VIII (1963), pp.17-33 (which I must admit I haven't yet seen).

And that's just the start of what you could do with a well-resourced assault... :-o

Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....

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