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Alien characters, some resembling Latin letters, others unlike anything used in any known language, are arranged into what appear to be words and sentences, except they don't resemble anything written – or read – by human beings.

Hodgins, an assistant research scientist and assistant professor in the UA's department of physics with a joint appointment at the UA's School of Anthropology, is fascinated with the manuscript. People are doing statistical analysis of letter use and word use – the tools that have been used for code breaking.

Currently owned by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University, the manuscript was discovered in the Villa Mondragone near Rome in 1912 by antique book dealer Wilfrid Voynich while sifting through a chest of books offered for sale by the Society of Jesus.

Voynich dedicated the remainder of his life to unveiling the mystery of the book's origin and deciphering its meanings.

From that, we calculate its age." Dissecting a century-old book To obtain the sample from the manuscript, Hodgins traveled to Yale University, where conservators had previously identified pages that had not been rebound or repaired and were the best to sample.The humming sound of machinery fills the room and provides a backdrop drone for the rhythmic hissing of vacuum pumps.Stainless steel pipes, alternating with heavy-bodied vacuum chambers, run along the walls.A tiny sample of carbon extracted from the manuscript is introduced into the "ion source" of the mass spectrometer."This causes the atoms in the sample to be ionized," he explained, "meaning they now have an electric charge and can be propelled by electric and magnetic fields." Ejected from the ion source, the carbon ions are formed into a beam that races through the instrument at a fraction of the speed of light.

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