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Publisher's Summary

"Yet it may be roundly asserted that human ingenuity cannot concoct a cipher which human ingenuity cannot resolve." (Edgar Allan Poe, "A Few Words on Secret Writing", 1841)

For as long as language and communication have existed, humans have invented ways to mask their messages from prying eyes. Military and diplomatic officials often devise secret codes to transmit sensitive data and confidential information to approved parties. This practice has become so commonplace in recent years that entire sciences, hobbies, and a full-fledged profession, called cryptography, have been established to decipher these cryptic texts.

Needless to say, once revolutionary methods of cryptography, though historic, are now considered archaic. Their simplistic secrets have been disclosed to the general public and even incorporated into children's toys. With the bulk of modern civilization so dependent on the virtual world, secret codes have evolved to a whole new level, most notably through data encryption. Data encryption, which aims to conceal classified electronic information through the use of complex ciphers and algorithms, was initially used for governmental and military purposes, but it now acts as the primary medium of security that most online platforms (as of January 2017) provide for their users. As intricate and inextricable as data encryption might seem to people today, a growing number of brilliant, but devious, minds continue to successfully find ways to bypass supposedly state of the art encryption software.

With such incisive minds constantly at work, one could be forgiven for assuming there are no ciphers left unsolved. On the contrary, a diverse array of both ancient and modern cryptographic challenges, which have stumped even the most seasoned code crackers of today, exist, and may exist for generations to come. Among the most famous of these memorandums is a 600-year-old document that continues to mystify: the Voynich Manuscript.

©2017 Charles River Editors (P)2017 Charles River Editors

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