nickpelling2 writes: "Here are some just-revealed historical ciphers from 1819 that the NSA's cryptologists weren't able to crack. So now it's your turn! To get you started, I suspect it's some kind of verbose cipher or steganography, i.e. where the ciphertext is much longer than the plaintext. Sort of like a lovesick Regency version of Abbot Trithemius. Find Lady Magdalene's ciphering trick & you'll read her secret messages! Go for it,/.ers!;-)"
nickpelling2 writes: "Ever heard of the "Copiale Cipher"? (Nope, neither had I). It's a 105-page neatly-written ciphertext dated 1886, i.e. a year before the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was formed. What's neat is that three researchers have just published details of how they decrypted its homophonic cipher. However, they've only transcribed the first 16 pages: might the rest refer to the mysterious Fraulein Anna Sprengler? Cool!"
nickpelling2 writes: "Though the centuries-old "Le Livre Des Sauvages" is hundreds of pages long, its psychosexually demented contents — think "Marquis de Sade's bad dream diary" — place it in a category all of its own... Ciphered Books You'd Have To Be Mad Yourself To Want To Decrypt. Basically, it's 100x more suited to bad T-shirt art than to cryptological study. For those brave few who haven't yet pressed PageDown, today's must-read story comes courtesy of intrepid Cipher Mysteries expert Nick Pelling, who has — at considerable personal risk — put together a handy guide to reading Le Livre's pictures, just for you. Errrm... enjoy!"
nickpelling2 writes: In 1918, John F. Byrne invented a truly amazing cipher system called "The Chaocipher", that fitted inside a small cigar box, could be operated by a ten-year-old, yet produced practically unbreakable ciphertext (arguably even stronger than the Nazi Enigma machine). But now, thanks to the efforts of Chaocipher fan Moshe Rubin and the generous gift of Byrne's cryptographic effects by his daughter-in-law Pat Byrne to the National Cryptologic Museum, the secrets of the Chaocipher are finally starting to be revealed — it's a great story.
To accompany Moshe Rubin's excellent textual description of the Chaocipher, I've posted a 30-second animation of the Chaocipher in action to YouTube, just in case anyone wants to see the most devious cipher of the 20th century in action (sort of).:-)
nickpelling2 writes: "There's a new book out called "The Curse of the Voynich" (I should know, I wrote it), which reveals the story behind the enigmatic Voynich Manuscript — that it was created by a disillusioned Renaissance architect to hide his books of secrets. It's a bit like a non-fiction Da Vinci Code (but without the car chases etc).
The crypto scoop here is that, rather than being a hoax (as per this 2003/. news story), 'Voynichese' turns out to be a complex overlapping set of transposition ciphers, carefully designed to resemble an archaic substitution cipher. It's actually a thing of beauty, in a geeky kind of way (I should know, I'm also a games programmer).