What We Know

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On this page we summarize confirmed (by Novil, the creator of the Book of Woo) statements, hints and results.

What We Know[edit]

When putting forth the original challenge, Novil stated the following:

Unlike the Voynich manuscript, The Book of Woo definitely contains sensible information that can be deciphered. I guarantee it ;-).

He also provided the following hints:

  • The encryption isn't based on an algorithm only suitable for computers which executes a loop 100 times or something like that.
  • The encryption isn't based on some sort of device or mechanism that is hard to get.
  • No “classical” steganographic method was used since that would just be impossibly hard to crack.
  • The plain text is some sort of literature, as one can guess from Woo’s comment and the illustrations. A lot of time went into the plain text as well, it’s not just a copy of the first page of Rascal or something like that.

In a later comment, Novil also clarified:

I wrote the story for “The Book of Woo” in English or German or both and an arbitrary number of encipherment steps (in a broad definition) have then been carried out that finally resulted in the text you can see above.

First Decryption Step Confirmed[edit]

On August 2, 2012, Satsuoni posted the following in the comment thread:

By looking at the distribution of character pairs I have discovered that the alphabet can be cleanly separated into two parts, with “u” and “e” serving as separators (incidentally, they look like on and off switch) between two sets. Sets seem identical in function. For example, “z” in one subset is equivalent to “w” in other. The distribution of separators doesn’t suggest that they are spaces of any kind [...]

..and then a bit later posted a new transliteration with the appropriate characters replaced to reduce the 31-character alphabet to a 15-character one.

On August 7, 2012, Novil posted a comment in which he confirmed that Satsuoni's analysis was, in fact, correct.

In Craig Bauer's book Unsolved! Novil actually says that Satsuoni cracked the last encryption step. So this doubling of the character set might have been a (quite successful) attempt to obscure the otherwise plainly visible fact that there are (at some stage at the end of the encoding process) only 15+1 different symbols that also separate into two alphabets.

Potbelly Hill Hint[edit]

On July 21, 2014, Novil posted the following in an article in the news section of the website:

I have decided to give you a little hint. The following word appears in the plain text:

ENGLISH: Potbelly Hill | GERMAN: Bauchigen Hügel

It should be quite easy to determine on which page. I hope this will generate some debate about the supposed content of that page.

There is something strange here: the german part is not in its nominative (that would be BauchigeR Hügel). so i guess there is something like "on the/atop the/below the/... Potbelly Hill". --Shain (talk) 06:45, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Corrections to the Text[edit]

When Novil confirmed Satsuoni's conclusions, he also posted some clarifications and a corrected transliteration (using Satsuoni's character mapping), which confirmed the following:

  • Page 3, lower part, line 5, word 5: The artwork contains an error that is already fixed in the transcription, the correct word is: i/hvrn (Luoypj)
  • Page 4, line 5, word 7: The artwork contains a minor error: There shouldn’t be a full stop after #=s= (fdsd) [The artwork on www.sandraandwoo.com was fixed on 27 June 2014.]
  • Page 4, line 9, word 1: Satsuoni's initial transcription contains an error, the correct word is: rb#=zcbzh=m (pqfdwgqwoda)
  • Page 4, line 11, word 1: Novil has since also confirmed that the last line of the text, which had previously been transliterated as two words, is in fact a single word with no spaces (xjsykdwpjwlja). [The artwork on www.sandraandwoo.com was fixed on 27 June 2014.]

(Note: All of these corrections have already been applied to all of the transliterations available from the main Transliterations page of this wiki.)

What We Assume[edit]

There are several properties which most solvers have, to date, assumed to be true (or mostly true), even though they have not been explicitly stated as such by Novil. In many cases, this is because they are fairly likely to be true and if they are not true, breaking the code would become substantially more difficult, or maybe even impossible. It is important to recognize, however, that while these are likely to be the case, they might not be, or might be only partially true:

  • There are several symbols in the ciphertext which look the same as standard English/German punctuation symbols, and it is assumed they are being used in the same way. Specifically, period (.), exclamation point (!), colon (:), and quote marks ("").
  • It has generally been assumed that the position of spaces in the ciphertext corresponds to word boundaries in the plaintext (so a "word" in the encrypted version corresponds with a word in the original/decrypted version).
  • There is one symbol (represented as "&" in most transliterations, sometimes referred to as "oPo") which only ever appears as a "word" by itself. Due to its absence elsewhere in the text, it is assumed that this does not represent a single character, but more likely an entire word, set of words, or proper noun.

Unrelated Cryptoquotes[edit]

It is important to note that there are several encrypted quotes which appear at the top of the Sandra and Woo website from time to time. Novil has confirmed that these quotes are unrelated puzzles and do not have anything to do with The Book of Woo or its encryption:

Ssssao fem Iha wl aiv bl olwv rised. – Antonio Averlino [1465]
Kaagia aag Scc as gr uie srn. – H. C. Reynolds [1948]
Psidms sid Vjj cp ktmr ojgd. – Thomas Jefferson Beale [1820]
Andrsn nds Chh fd smosud wsntdkdfah. – Sámuel Literáti Nemes [1833]

In the description of strip #504, Novil posted the solutions to these unrelated mini-puzzles:

The four little cipher challenges below the website’s logo have been decrypted:

  • “Andrsn nds Chh fd smosud wsntdkdfah.” – Sámuel Literáti Nemes [1833] was decoded to “Sandra and Woo is always surprising” by our reader Charles. Sámuel Literáti Nemes is suspected to have forged the Codex Rohonczi.
  • “Kaagia aag Scc as gr uie srn.” – H. C. Reynolds [1948] was decoded to “Sandra and Woo is to die for.” by our reader Phil. A man named H. C. Reynolds was assumed to be the Tamam Shud murder victim for a while.
  • “Ssssao fem Iha wl aiv bl olwv rised.” – Antonio Averlino [1465] was decoded to “Sandra and Woo is out of this world.” also by our reader Phil. The architect Antonio Averlino, also known as Filarete, is one of the alleged authors of the Voynich manuscript.
  • “Psidms sid Vjj cp ktmr ojgd.” – Thomas Jefferson Beale [1820] was decoded to “Sandra and Woo is pure gold.” by our reader Roachester. Thomas Jefferson Beale created the Beale ciphers which allegedly state the location of a buried treasure of gold.

Standard encryption methods and “Sandra and Woo” as password have been used to encrypt the short messages. I no longer know which method was used for which message, though.