Uploaded to academia.edu, my research on: Alan Turing & Michael Ventris: a Cursory Comparison of their Handwriting

Uploaded to academia.edu, my research on: Alan Turing & Michael Ventris: a Cursory Comparison of their Handwriting

Although I originally posted this brief research paper here on our blog about two months ago, I have just uploaded a revised, and slightly more complete version of it here:

Alan Turing and Michael Ventris handwriting title
which anyone of you visiting our blog may download at leisure, provided that you first sign up with academia.edu, which is a free research clearinghouse, replete with thousands of superb research articles in all areas of the humanities and arts, science and technology and, of course, linguistics, ancient and modern. The advantages of signing up with academia.edu are many. Here are just a few:

1. While it is easy enough to read any original post on our blog, it is very difficult to upload it, especially since almost all of our posts contain images, which do not readily lend themselves to uploading into a word processor such as Word or Open Office.
2. On the other hand, since almost all research articles, papers, studies, journal articles and conference papers are in PDF format, they can be uploaded from academia.edu with ease. You will of course need to install the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to download any research paper or article, regardless of author(s) or source(s). You can download it from here:

adobe acrobat reader download 
3. academia.edu is the perfect venue for you to set up your own personal page where you may upload as many of your research papers as you like.
4. academia.edu is also one of the best research resource hubs on the entire Internet where you can find not just scores, but even hundreds of papers or documents of (in)direct interest to you as a researcher in your own right in your own field of expertise.
5. Of course, you will want to convey this great news to any and all of your colleagues and fellow researchers, whether or not they share your own interests.

My own academia.edu home page is:

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I would be most grateful if you were to follow me and if you would like me to follow you back, please let me know.


Alan Turing & Michael Ventris: a Comparison of their Handwriting

Alan Turing & Michael Ventris: a Comparison of their Handwriting

I have always been deeply fascinated by Alan Turing and Michael Ventris alike, and for obvious reasons. Primarily, these are two geniuses cut from pretty much the same cloth. The one, Alan Turing, was a cryptologist who lead the team at Bletchley Park, England, during World War II in deciphering the German military’s Enigma Code, while the other, Michael Ventris, an architect by profession, and a decipherment expert by choice, deciphered Mycenaean Linear B in 1952.

Here are their portraits. Click on each one to ENLARGE:

Alan Turing portrait

Michael Ventris Linear B grid AMINISO

Having just recently watched the splendid movie, The Imitation Game, with great pleasure and with an eye to learning as much more as I possibly could about one of my two heroes (Alan Turing), I decided to embark on an odyssey to discover more about each of these geniuses of the twentieth century. I begin my investigation of their lives, their personalities and their astounding achievements with a comparison of their handwriting. I was really curious to see whether there was anything in common with their handwriting, however you wish to approach it. It takes a graphologist, a specialist in handwriting analysis, to make any real sense of such a comparison. But for my own reasons, which pertain to a better understanding of the personalities and accomplishments of both of my heroes, I would like to make a few observations of my own on their handwriting, however amateurish.      

Here we have samples of their handwriting, first that of Alan Turing: Click to ENLARGE 

Alan Turing handwriting sample

and secondly, that of Michael Ventris: Click to ENLARGE

Michael Ventris handwriting letter 18 june 1952

A few personal observations:

Scanning through the samples of their handwriting, I of course was looking for patterns, if any could be found. I think I found a few which may prove of some interest to many of you who visit our blog, whether you be an aficionado or expert in graphology, cryptography, the decipherment of ancient language scripts or perhaps someone just interested in writing, codes, computer languages or anything of a similar ilk.

Horizontal and Vertical Strokes:

1. The first thing I noticed were the similarities and differences between the way each of our geniuses wrote the word, “the”. While the manner in which each of them writes “the” is obviously different, what strikes me is that in both cases, the letter “t” is firmly stroked in both the vertical and horizontal planes. The second thing that struck me was that both Turing and Ventris wrote the horizontal t bar with an emphatic stroke that appears, at least to me, to betray the workings of a mathematically oriented mind. In effect, their “t”s are strikingly similar. But this observation in and of itself is not enough to point to anything remotely conclusive.
2. However, if we can observe the same decisive vertical () and horizontal (|) strokes in other letter formations, there might be something to this. Observation of Alan Turing’s lower-case “l” reveals that it is remarkably similar to that of Michael Ventris, although the Ventris “l” is always a single decisive stroke, with no loop in it, whereas Turing waffles between the single stroke and the open loop “l”. While their “f”s look very unalike at first glance, once again, that decisive horizontal stroke makes its appearance. Yet again, in the letter “b”, though Turing has it closed and Ventris has it open, the decisive stroke, in this case vertical, re-appears. So I am fairly convinced we have something here indicative of their mathematical genius. Only a graphologist would be in a position to forward this observation as a hypothesis.

Circular and Semi-Circular Strokes:

3. Observing now the manner in which each individual writes curves (i.e. circular and semi-circular strokes), upon examining their letter “s”, we discover that both of them write “s” almost exactly alike! The most striking thing about the way in which they both write “s” is that they flatten out the curves in such a manner that they appear almost linear. The one difference I noticed turns out to be Alan Turing’s more decisive slant in his “s”, but that suggests to me that, if anything, his penchant for mathematical thought processes is even more marked than that of Michael Ventris. It is merely a difference in emphasis rather than in kind. In other words, the difference is just a secondary trait, over-ridden by the primary characteristic of the semi-circle flattened almost to the linear. But once again, we have to ask ourselves, does this handwriting trait re-appear in other letters consisting in whole or in part of various avatars of the circle and semi-circle? 
4. Let’s see. Turning to the letter “b”, we notice right away that the almost complete circle in this letter appears strikingly similar in both writers. This observation serves to reinforce our previous one, where we drew attention to the remarkable similarities in the linear characteristics of the same letter. Their “c”s are almost identical. However, in the case of the vowel “a”, while the left side looks very similar, Turing always ends his “a”s with a curve, whereas the same letter as Ventris writes it terminates with another of those decisive strokes, this time vertically. So in this instance, it is Ventris who resorts to the more mathematical stoke, not Turing. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Overall Observations:

While the handwriting styles of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris do not look very much alike when we take a look, prime facie, at a complete sample overall, in toto, closer examination reveals a number of striking similarities, all of them geometrical, arising from the disposition of linear strokes (horizontal & vertical) and from circular and semi-circular strokes. In both cases, the handwriting of each of these individual geniuses gives a real sense of the mathematical and logical bent of their intellects. Or at least as it appears to me. Here the old saying of not being able to see the forest for the trees is reversed. If we merely look at the forest alone, i.e. the complete sample of the handwriting of either Alan Turing or Michael Ventris, without zeroing in on particular characteristics (the trees), we miss the salient traits which circumscribe their less obvious, but notable similarities. General observation of any phenomenon, let alone handwriting, without taking redundant, recurring specific prime characteristics squarely into account, inexorably leads to false conclusions.

Yet, for all of this, and in spite of the apparently convincing explicit observations I have made on the handwriting styles of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris, I am no graphologist, so it is probably best we take what I say with a grain of salt. Still, the exercise was worth my trouble. I am never one to pass up such a challenge.

Be it as it may, I sincerely believe that a full-fledged professional graphological analysis of the handwriting of our two genius decipherers is bound to reveal something revelatory of the very process of decipherment itself, as a mental and cognitive construct. I leave it to you, professional graphologists. Of course, this very premise can be extrapolated and generalized to any field of research, linguistic, technological or scientific, let alone the decipherment of military codes or of ancient language scripts. 

Many more fascinating posts on the lives and achievements of Alan Turing and Michael Ventris to come! 


Quotations from The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, Presentation at the Conference, Thinking Symbols, Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015: Part A

Quotations from The Rôle of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, Presentation at the Conference, Thinking Symbols, Pultusk Academy of the Humanities, Pultusk, Poland, June 30-July 2, 2015: Part A

Alan Turing

Alan Turing (1923-1954), a world-famous mathematical genius and cryptologist, was head of the team at Bletchley Park in England, which deciphered what was considered at the time to be the uncrackable Enigma Code that German Intelligence used throughout the Second World War for their secret military missions and operations, eventually all to no avail. It is he who said, “Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.”
... let’s get straight to the point, and look at Slide A, which dramatically illustrates the universal rôle symbols play on physical signs, otherwise known as signage, in our hectic world today.

Slide omitted, to be displayed at the Conference only

Now you will notice that the international standard signage symbols we all my must rely on every day of our lives are of two kinds, (a) nominal (N), meaning symbols which replace the names of places, otherwise known as toponyms, which usually offer us static information & (b) verbal or kinetic (V), which replace actions we must take if we are to avoid unpleasant or disastrous consequences. Here on Slide A we see examples of both static and kinetic symbols or ideograms.

... we need to define in broad terms what a syllabary is, given that all of the signs on this tablet are syllabograms, so that we can interpret the Mycenaean city & settlement codes. This clears the way for a basic understanding of how syllabograms function. Like a script or signary based on ideograms, such as Egyptian hieroglyphics or Chinese ideograms, generally an earlier development than itself, a syllabary is a signary based on syllabograms, each of which consists of a single consonant + a single vowel up to a maximum of 5 vowels in a discrete series, as we see illustrated here in Slide J.

Slide omitted, to be displayed at the Conference only

Mycenaean Linear B, like its immediate predecessor, Minoan Linear A, has a D series, da, de, di, do & du; an N series, na, ne, ni, no & nu, and so on. Some syllabogram series are incomplete, for instance, the W series, wa, we, wi & wo, with four syllabograms & the Z series, za, ze & zo, consisting of three in Linear B. Minoan Linear A and the two archaic Greek pre-alphabetic syllabaries, Mycenaean Linear B & Arcado-Cypriot Linear C also have syllabograms for each of the 5 vowels. We can see now that a syllabary is generally considered to be the intermediate stage between even more ancient scripts such as Egyptian hieroglyphics on the one hand, and the later Greek alphabet on the other, in so far as it contains both consonant + vowel sequences and the minimal set of 5 vowels, just as all alphabets do right on up from the various avatars of the ancient Greek alphabet to the Cyrillic for many Slavic languages, such as Russian and Ukrainian to the Latin alphabet, from which almost all modern Occidental alphabets are derived. Click to ENLARGE 

hieroglyphics linear b alphabet

My Twitter account completely updated, new header new photo, and new, wider perspectives: Click to ENLARGE

My Twitter account completely updated, new header new photo, and new, wider perspectives: Click to Visit:

Twitter Richard Vallance
I have just updated and completely revised not only the appearance but the contents of my Twitter account, to reflect my widely expanding interests as related, either directly or indirectly, to Mycenaean Linear B, Minoan Linear A, Arcado-Cypriot Linear C, ancient Greek etc. etc. I have posted a new header, which you see above, incorporating the Linear B word for Knossos, and part of the stunning dolphins fresco in the Queen’s Megaron at Knossos, which you can see here: Click to ENLARGE

As it now stands, in its short lifetime of less than two years, our Linear B (A & C) blog has become one of the primary Linear B resources on the entire Internet, with visits already running into the tens of thousands (an astounding figure for something as bizarre and esoteric as Linear B!). Soon approaching 40K, we expect at least 60K hits by our second anniversary, if not more.  The reasons for this are obvious to anyone with even a passing interest in Linear B (A &C). Nothing is off-limits on our blog. Neither Rita Roberts, my research colleague, nor I, take anything for granted. We are both “doubting Thomases” to the core, casting doubt not only on translations of Linear B tablets by other Linear B researchers, but on one anothers as well, given that neither of us is in the least impervious to committing errors, sometimes egregious. Such errors must be drawn to our attention, come what may. If you are an expert in Linear B decipherment, and you do not like any translation either of us has made, feel free to give us a shout.

The other principal concerns and issues our blog frequently focuses on are:
1. keeping the Linear B syllabary right up to date. The syllabary chart most commonly used on the Internet is way out-of-date, and must be replaced by this one: Click to ENLARGE

Linear B Syllabary Completely Revised 2014
2. the introduction of the completely new theory of Supersyllabograms in Mycenaean Linear B, of which there are at least 30 from the store of 61 syllabograms. We have plenty of posts on our theory on our blog.  Rita Roberts and I shall be publishing a major research article on supersyllabograms sometime in 2015 or 2016. If tenable, it should prove to be a revolutionary step forward in the decipherment of the remaining 10% or so of the Linear B syllabary, its homophones, logograms and ideograms as yet undeciphered over the past 62 years since Michael Ventris successfully and amazingly deciphered the other 90%. Our research will be widely available in PDF format on the Internet, and although copyrighted, will be free for use by any Linear B aficionados.  Here is an example of just a few supersyllabograms, all dealing with sheep, rams & ewes, the primary concern of Linear B scribes by a long shot: Click to ENLARGE

Linear B Supersyllabograms Chart for sheep rams and ewes
3. Progressive Linear B Vocabulary and Grammar, another all-new approach to the study of Linear B, whereby I intend to re-construct as much of the lost grammar of Mycenaean Greek as I possibly can. I have already completely mapped the active voice of both Thematic and Athematic verbs in Mycenaean Greek. Nouns, adjectives, adverbs and prepositions with cases are to follow in 2015. To view all posts on this topic, visit our PINTEREST Board, Mycenaean Linear B Grammar and Vocabulary:

Mycenaean Linear B PINTEREST 
4. Rita Roberts and I shall be constructing an all new English-Linear B Lexicon sometimes between 2016 & 2018, which will be vastly superior to the currently available Mycenaean (Linear B) – ENGLISH Glossary on the Internet, of which the less said the better, as it is riddled with at least 100 errors! I strongly dis-advise anyone using it. If you must use a Mycenaean dictionary, be sure to avail yourselves of Chris Tselentsis’ far superior Linear B Lexicon.

5. the all new field of the feasibility of the possible application of the Linear syllabaries, especially B & C but also, to a lesser extent, Linear A, to the emerging field of extraterrestrial communication, by which I mean serious research as undertaken by NASA: Click to read the entire PDF

and other space administration, research facilities and professional online sites, and not crackpot nonsense such as UFOs, alien abductions and the like. Here are a few comic strips just to make it clear exactly what I think of extraterrestrial crackpots: Click to ENLARGE

Universe makes a lot of people angry and Dakeks
followed by this famous quotation by Werner Karl Heisenburg: Click to read the Wikipedia article on him: 

Heisenburg universe stranger
These are just the 5 major ventures we are undertaking on our blog, but we do not shy away from anything whatsoever which advances our knowledge of Linear B in general and in particular.

My Twitter account has expanded its scope to include not only my primary pursuits, research into Linear A, B & C and ancient Greek, especially the archaic Greek of the Catalogue of Ships in book II of Homer’s Iliad, which I am in the process of translating in its entirety, as you can see here: Click to ENLARGE


but also the following areas of great interest to me:

1. posting of major research articles, not only in English, but in French and Italian as well, the latter two of which I shall translate into English whenever I deem it necessary for our blog readers;     
2. ancient Greek vocabulary, but exclusively in the East Greek dialects, Mycenaean Greek, Arcado-Cypriot, Aeolian, Ionic and Attic;
3. Decipherment of ancient languages in general, insofar as these related, either directly or indirectly, to Linear syllabaries;
4. Cryptology, such as the Bletchley Circle project in World War Two, and the key rôle the brilliant genius, Alan Turing, the equal of Michael Ventris in intellect, played in the decipherment of the Enigma Code, especially as this astounding achievement relates to...
5. thorough investigation and in-depth analysis of the possible suitability of of syllabic scripts such as Linear A, B & C into extraterrestrial communication (NOT UFO’s, which are crackpot nonsense suitable only to... I will not fill in the blanks!);
6. astronomy, Mars, exoplanets etc. (not reflected on this blog, of course, except insofar as it may possibly relate to Linear syllabaries),  linguistics in general, including translation from one language to another, especially between English & French, in which as a Canadian I am fluent, Latin & Greek and Italian, which I read very well & Spanish, fairly well. I have forgotten my Russian, which I learned 50 years ago, but I can still read the Cyrillic alphabet with no difficulty. Linguistics and translation posts on this blog must in some way be related to Linear syllabaries, but not on my Twitter account, where anything important about linguistics in general is just fine with me.


The Implications of the Linear B Geometric Syllabary for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Part 1 — The Biggest Bang you will ever have seen from this blog!… so far… stay tuned!

The Implications of the Linear B Geometric Syllabary for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Part 1 — The Biggest Bang you will ever have seen from this blog!... so far... stay tuned!

Before I go any further, allow me to state categorically that this message the Voyager Space Capsules launched in 1977 with one of their missions being to search out suppositional extraterrestrials, is primitive at best, and ludicrous at its worst.  Click to ENLARGE:

Voyager 1 & 2 golden record
As far as I can figure it out (which isn’t very much at all - not that it matters), the message on this disc is difficult even for most humans to interpret, unless they happen to be astrophysicists, mathematicians or some sort of scientific geek. Unless the reader is human, it is probably impossible to make to make head or tails of it.  And I for one, even though I am human and hopefully intelligent, cannot even begin to imagine how any target extraterrestrial civilization could even begin to out how to play the damn thing, unless they had a record player (ahem, as if!), a device already obsolete even to us! One of the fundamentally flawed assumptions of this analog device is that you have to play it on a device the human race alone has invented. The very concept of playing an analog recorded medium could very well be completely impenetrable to even the most advanced extraterrestrial civilizations, who might find the whole thing so laughable they would toss it out “the window”, assuming they even had windows, which is a helluva stretch in and of itself.   
In the Wikipedia article on this mission, we read this:

Voyager 1 and 2 both carry with them a golden record that contains pictures and sounds of Earth, along with symbolic directions for playing the record and data detailing the location of Earth.

This patently assumes that whoever or whatever intelligence eventually (!) receives this message will look a great deal like us (i.e. be anthropomorphic) and will think almost exactly as we do, and so will understand human music, and will be able to interpret the capsule’s human historical, photographic archives & over a thousand human languages... probably so much gibberish to our poor benighted recipients some countless millennia hence, assuming it arrives in one piece, if at all. So as far as I am concerned, this mission is paramount to a futile exercise in pipe-dreaming. Even in 1977, when I was only 32 years old, I considered the whole thing a complete waste of time, money and human resources. If anything is a near-perfect example of “thinking inside the box, with the lid closed and sealed”, that project had to be it. This will all become all too painfully obvious as we proceed through our discussion of the truly formidable, quite possibly even insurmountable challenges of interstellar communication. Of course, since then, in the past 37 years, humankind has apparently begun to grow up from mid- to late-adolescence, to burst the chains of the outer limits of human consciousness as it then manifested itself, and quite literally gone cosmic. We appear to be on the cusp of our next leap in human consciousness, and if it is indeed transpiring at this very moment in our history, we are in for one helluva roller-coaster ride, the likes of which humankind has never come close to imagining in the past, right up to and including the twentieth century.

Richard Saint-Gelais’ Survey of the Potential Implications of the Application of the Linear B Syllabary as a Cipher for Extraterrestrial Communication: 

In the first of our two previous posts we introduced the proposals that Richard Saint-Gelais of NASA set forth in the potentially theoretical, if not quite yet practical, application of the Mycenaean Greek Linear B Geometric Syllabary to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In the second of these posts, I myself posited some of the assumptions, principles and hypotheses underpinning a search of such tremendous magnitude that it stretches the powers of human reasoning practically beyond its outer limits.

Still, history has repeatedly demonstrated that our intellect and powers of reasoning can be, and at certain junctures in the timeline of human evolution, are stretched another notch up the ladder beyond the presumptive limits of our previously adduced levels of abstractive powers, finally allowing us today, for the first time in human history, to think more and more, and more and more swiftly “outside the box” than ever before prior to the twenty-first century.

The Ancient Greeks Take the First Great Leap of the Human Intellect onto the Higher Plane of Abstract Reasoning:

The first great leap onto the purely abstract plane of reasoning was taken by the ancient Greeks, in two discreet stages:

(A) the complete overhaul of the Minoan Linear A syllabary into the Mycenaean Greek Linear B syllabary, which swiftly and unceremoniously tossed overboard the most complicated and abstruse Linear B syllabograms, homophones & ideograms (some 1/4 of some 300), in less than 50 years, an incredibly rapid turnover in terms of socio-linguistic change, which otherwise nearly always occurred at a snail’s pace in the ancient world.

But there is even more to this picture than we can possibly have imagined before the 1990s at the very earliest. Despite the proliferation of puissant supercomputers and the quasi-instantaneous communication afforded by the World Wide Web, a much better semiotic signifier for what it actually is than the word, “Internet”, which is significantly lamer, I say again, in spite of all these extremely recent massive technological advances at our disposal, the Minoan Linear A syllabary, which for a human language was already a quasi-geometric script complete with the base set of 5 vowels for the first time in history, has utterly defied any and all attempts whatsoever at decipherment since Sir Arthur Evans first excavated the ruins of Knossos in the spring of 1900. It just won’t budge a single centimetre. Now, if we are utterly incapable of deciphering a human language, Minoan in Linear A, even with all of our technological gadgets and goodies at our instant command, including The University of California Berkeley Campus’ newly conceived automated “time machine” to reconstruct ancient languages, Click to visit the site:

Automated Time Machine to Reconstruct Ancient Languages
imagine how much more alarmingly daunting must be the gargantuan task of beginning to scratch even the surface of communicating anything sensible to any extraterrestrial civilization whatsoever. But is the task really all that hopeless?  

Although the Linear B syllabary was used by the scribes at Knossos, Pylos, Mycenae, Phaistos, Thebes (in Greece) and in several other Mycenaean locales, almost solely for accounting and inventories, which function primarily on a concrete and semi-abstract level, the script itself, being fundamentally and almost exclusively geometric in nature, was by far the most abstract script ever developed in the ancient world until that time (ca. 1450 BCE). Geometric abstraction is also one of the outstanding characteristics of Minoan & Mycenaean architecture, as illustrated in these two examples:

Knossos: Click to ENLARGE

Here we can instantly isolate the perfectly Circular Frieze Motif shown here on one of the two buildings at Knossos, a motif which appears over and over on several Minoan and Mycenaean structures. Notice also that the other edifice is perfectly straight in every plane, including the then revolutionary liberal use of skylights for interior illumination. You can readily see that the building reminds us of the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), the first true pioneer in the advent of modern architecture. This is no accident.  Lloyd Wright took much of his inspiration for the foundation of his architectural constructs from Japanese and, yes, Minoan architecture. Once again, this should not come as any surprise to anyone familiar with the amazing achievements of one of the most brilliant architects in the history of humankind, an architect whose applied principles fundamentally relied on the application of geometry to his buildings and structures.

Frank Lloyd Wright 1867-1957 & Minoan like home

Even more astounding are the near perfect geometric proportions of the Mycenaean Tesoro Atreoyo (Treasury of Atreus), which the Mycenaeans constructed with astonishing mathematical accuracy hundreds of years before the great Greek mathematicians finally came round to working out the complex geometric and algebraic theorems underlying the elegant geometric proportions of this magnificent structure: Click to ENLARGE

Geometry of the Treasury of Atreus Mycenae

SOURCE: Metron Ariston (Greek for “The Ideal Mean” (from: Liddell & Scott, 1986, pg. 442)


What can I say? The Mycenaeans were Greeks down to their very marrow.

As anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the Linear B syllabary can attest, its geometric elegance and economy is second-to-none.

Are Ancient Scripts Primitive?

When modern writers and the occasional deluded linguist refer to ancient scripts as “primitive”, as compared with so-called “modern” alphabets, which for Occidental languages (Greek & Latin) are ancient anyway, they do a great disservice to the former, propagating totally false misconceptions on that account alone. In point of fact, there is no such thing as a “primitive” script, which leads me almost inexorably to my next observation: if there are no primitive scripts, there are no modern, all scripts (ideographies, syllabaries & alphabets) ancient or modern being as sound as any other. It follows logically then that any and all future scripts as yet uninvented will also serve as well as, but no better than, the thousands of scripts humankind has dabbled in over the past 10 millennia at least, including any which we may devise for extraterrestrial communication. The implications of this factor alone are profound. They inform us that any language whatsoever we use for communication, terrestrial or otherwise is, and can only be, human, whoever tautological this may sound... or so it may appear.

Now, the implications of this scenario for the potential transmission of some sort of set of signals susceptible to possible decipherment by extraterrestrial intelligences are profound. My point is simply this: if the historical timeline in the (apparent) “evolution” of human scripts is not sufficiently impressive even for us to make a big deal out of it, and if the transmission of any one or more of humankind’s most mathematically elegant scripts, past or present – and eventually future – are deemed by some to be just the right recipe, then why not try them?  What have we got to lose? Nothing... to gain? - cosmic communication = cosmic consciousness. Now there’s something to put in your pipe & smoke.     

(B) Then the very same people, the Greeks, went plunging ahead, completely abandoning the Mycenaean Linear B syllabary for the even more elegant Greek alphabet, but significantly not casting aside the Arcado-Cypriot Linear C syllabary (even more geometrically economic than Linear B), which held its own right down to 400 BCE! No use re-inventing the wheel, or so the Arcadians and Cypriots believed. But, and here is the wringer. Now get this! The Linear C syllabary was no longer used merely for record keeping and inventory purposes, in fact, far from it. Its primary use was for publication of much more abstract legal and constitutional documents. Abstract geometric syllabary, abstract thought. That’s the next big leap forward. And the next: abstract geometric syllabary --> abstract communication --> abstract extraterrestrial communication.

What about the Greek Alphabet, and its Widespread Use for Algebraic Notation?  

Now, of course, the Greek alphabet itself is not characteristically geometric, so we can pretty much eliminate it, and for that matter any other Occidental alphabet (Latin or Cyrillic) as suitable for interstellar communication. This includes our Arabic numerals, which you can be pretty much sure no extraterrestrial civilization would be able to distinguish from letters in an alpha-numeric system, since all characters in such a system would look the same to them, and almost certainly far too complex for them to take seriously.

We can also be pretty well assured that no extraterrestrial civilization, even if they too used alphabets, would have the faintest idea what human alphabets were supposed to be signifiers of. But does that really matter? My short answer is simply, not at all. If we were to transmit from the source (ourselves) for instance just these rectilinear & circular 10 Linear B symbols &/or 10 Linear C symbols – for a potential total of 20 — as simple signals and nothing more (10 supposedly being a universally recognizable number), all kinds of wacky scenarios are likely to transpire at the target (them, whoever or whatever they are).

Linear B & Linear C Extraterrestrial Communication
Now, of course, since our target extraterrestrial civilization will not have the faintest idea what these symbols mean to us, as humansif they see them as symbols as such at all – or whether or not they simply see them as geometric signals, the latter will do the trick just fine, thank you very much. So in this case, it does not matter a hill of beans which syllabograms from which syllabary we as the source civilization transmit to them, the target civilization, since they are going to interpret these 20 signals – if we decide to send that many – whatever damn well way suits them just fine, regardless of who we are, since they could care less anyway. All that would matter to them is that someone or some entity or entities from somewhere in our (meaning, their) galactic neighbourhood sent them a signal that meant something significant to themselves (the targets), though God only knows what. And why should we care any more than they do anyway? Come to think of it, they do not even have to live on a planet such as we construe it. If they do not, they might just as easily assume that whoever or whatever sent the signal would not live on a “planet” either. Any scenario is possible. So for this reason alone, if it were up to me to send the signal, I would simply mix-and-match Linear B & Linear C geometric signifiers any old way I felt like, and be damned the consequences... well, that might be a bit of an overstatement in case they turn out to be hostiles, we piss them rightly off and they invade us! But the chances of that ever happening are so extremely remote as to approach quantum zero.        

Still, we have to admit that the Linear B & Linear C syllabaries have a helluva lot going for them. If anything, both are eminently suited for extraterrestrial communication, for the following reasons (as I see it):

1. What is the “Message” in the Extraterrestrial Communication Medium? What does it signify? Does it matter to “them”? Should it matter to us? Whose “Message” is it anyway? Woah! 

As Richard Saint-Gelais correctly points out, any attempt on our part to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligences cannot, and must not, be based on what we as humans understand as being signifier(s) and signified, but rather on (hopefully) recognizable patterned sequences, by which I mean either digital (0 1), decimal or geometric, but not algebraic (see above). In fact, I posit that it does not matter a hill of beans whether signals of these three mathematical orders mean anything at all like what they clearly signify to us, but not clearly at all to our extraterrestrial compeers, other than what they signify to them, and in that light, applying reverse logic, almost certainly not to us. All that matters is that they, our extraterrestrial buddies, understand that the constructs mean whatever the hell they mean to them. If they do meaning anything, anything at all, then we will have established communication.

Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Extraterrestrial Conference:

Let us imagine a few ludicrous sounding examples. Say, for instance, we transmit a circle in the source signal, and our extraterrestrial friends at the target “read it”. Well, what if the circle we send is not abstract at all to them, but concrete only? What if they cannot even think on the abstract, connotative plane? Don’t laugh. Maybe to them the circle is just one of a thousand polka dots on one of their pet five-legged orgathonics with two heads and four arms, but no legs, just flippers instead. Again, take the straight line. Same scenario. If the language of that particular extraterrestrial civilization is concrete and denotative only, it would not matter how many straight lines we transmitted to them. They simply would not recognize them as such. But they would recognize them as something concrete, such as, for instance, a pole sticking in the ground.

2. The exact reverse scenario may just as easily obtain, namely that a particular extraterrestrial intelligence we sloppily target and by sheer accident hit (there is after all no other way we would hit them, if we ever could... imagine trying to hit the Earth with a pin-pong ball from 1,000 light years away!) uses a language or languages which are absolutely abstract and connotative, and not concrete and denotative at all. I hear someone shouting, “Eureka! We’re in luck!”  Not so fast.  To such a civilization a circle may be far more than just a circle or a straight line as we envision them. To them, a circle might automatically mean a sphere, if even their language is entirely three-dimensional on the abstract plane. Woops!  As for a straight line, God forbid!  It would at the very least probably be that naughty old straight line drawn out to infinity, and looping back in a circle to the point where it started to bite them in the conjectural ass. Then they would really get confused!

To them, a circle and a straight line might even be paramount to one & the same phenomenon, so I can hear them asking themselves, “Why would anyone or any entity such as ourselves bother sending the same exact symbol as two discrete symbols – unless of course they were stupid?” If that were the case, I suspect that they would not even bother communicating with us, targeting us with their far more intelligent signals, because they would (rightly) see us as utterly incapable of interpreting them, not having even the minimal intellectual resources to tackle their “message”, or rather I should say, the signals in their “medium”, whatever that happens to be. Your guess is as good as mine. 

So we end up with at least two scenarios, and plenty more besides, I strongly suspect. Either our abstract geometric symbols are interpreted as signals of concrete objects alone or they are considered to be far too primitive for our hyper-intelligence recipients, who would probably just laugh them off as some sort of hopelessly dumb joke from the equivalent of what we would generously refer to as apes!

The Enigma Code:

3. There is yet another highly fruitful source for food for thought in the massively daunting challenge facing us in the apparently Quixotic search for potential solutions to the problem of extraterrestrial communication. This is, leaving aside the absolutely monumental achievement of the decipherment of Linear B by Michael Ventris, the astonishing work of another genius of decipherment in the mid-twentieth century. I speak of course of Alan Turing (1912-1954), who not only was the first person in history to actually correctly conceptualize the theoretical base of the digital computer, based on the 0-1 binary construct, but who successfully cracked both versions of the German Enigma Code in World War II (the earlier easier & later more difficult one). Click on his photo for his biography:

Alan Turing 1912-1954

Now there is a term I can latch onto, Enigma Code. In fact, I fairly burst to leap on it, because I can think of no other term that more aptly exemplifies the fundamental precepts and hypotheses underlying the search for some way, any way, to communicate with any kind of extraterrestrial intelligence. It is no longer a question of us, or to put it bluntly, of the nature of our own human intelligence.

Speaking frankly, I for one do not believe it matters one jot what kind of intelligence is at the source and the target of extraterrestrial communication, provided that there is at least some common universal signal substrate which may (or may not) be susceptible to an interpretation, any interpretation of the source message by the target recipient, even if their understanding of what the “message” actually says (to them) differs drastically from what it means to us.

The only thing that matters at all is that the extraterrestrial target recipients of the signals we transmit are able to recognize a clearly repetitive pattern of sufficient variations on a “theme” to the point that it is intelligible to them (not us), in the fundamental framework of their own intelligence (not ours), however much it differs from our own human paradigm(s) for what we ourselves call “intelligence”. That is what I mean by a potentially universal signal, an Enigma Code which, although it remains an Enigma Code to our target recipients, is at least an enigma with a clearly recognizable pattern.

They certainly do not need to decipher it as we understand the principle of “decipherment” in human terms, any more than we need to actually decipher the Minoan language in Linear A to recognize highly repetitive morphemic and semiotic patterns and even oblique declensions, which we in fact do recognize as essential markers of human languages. But even a partial decipherment can serve well enough to convince us that we are on the right track. We know this because signifiers-signified are universal in human languages. Moreover, the entire Linear A numeric system has been successfully deciphered, and a great many toponyms we know in Linear B have (nearly) exact counterparts in Linear A.

Yet even if the fundamental construct of the intelligence of our extraterrestrial buddies contains neither the signifier “language” nor “decipherment”, their intelligence, if at least as advanced as ours (and that is not very advanced) will be able to derive some sort of “sense” from our “signal”, because for them, just as for us, the medium would be the message. The clue would be McLuhanesque, even if they could never have a clue what a McLuhan is. So the situation is far from hopeless. 

The Enigma Machine:

Enigma Machine

At the crux of the problem, however, there is this: what is universal to human language constructs is almost certainly bound to be far from being universal even for any single target extraterrestrial “language”, let alone any number of them, whatever their intrinsic nature, it being almost certainly equally enigmatic to us. Ah the old double-blind scenario.

The Germans knew what their Enigma Codes meant, because they could decipher them by reverse extrapolation at the source. But until Bletchley Park and its brightest star, Alan Turing, could get a grip on it – and it took years of the most backbreaking analysis – it remained just what it was to the Allies, an Enigma Code. Still, they knew perfectly well that the code itself, however massively complex it was (and it was!) overlay relatively simple original military messages in perfectly intelligible German. They new it was an artificial human means of communication. And that was all they needed to know. Let us never forget that those clever bastards at Bletchley Park cracked the Enigma Code without the benefit of computers, which says far more for them than it does for us today!

A Universal Enigma Code for Extraterrestrial Communication?Are you completely bonkers?” I hear you protest. Not so fast. Yes, the irksome question still remains, and refuses to just go away in a puff of smoke: would any extraterrestrial communication system or “language”, if we must insist on calling it that, even be able to begin to crack a human Extraterrestrial Enigma Code we so blithely sent buzzing off into interstellar space at the speed of light, unless their communication system were in fact a “language” something along the lines of what we understand a language to be? Conceivably they might, but their “language” would have to be a language fairly approximating the universal construct of what we call human language for them to be able to do so. Otherwise... fill in the blanks. Rather, do not fill in the blanks. Firing off blanks does not kill anyone. Firing off blank “blank” messages does not “mean” anything to any higher intelligence which has no need of language as we understand it. In fact, they might even toss our medium, forget the “message” into the “garbage”, considering it as nothing more significant than  “dog poop” or whatever they call “it”.

One thing is pretty obvious to me at least: sending a code which would be interpreted as an Enigma Code by some extraterrestrial civilization would probably be more like child’s play to them than vainly struggling trying to decipher what the silly messages on the Voyager spacecraft mean, simply because the latter are plainly and solely human, nothing more or less & next nothing else at all. But as I have said over and over, the “message” or more properly the signals we transmit cannot & must not be simply human in nature, they must at least make a stab at being cosmically universal, at least to one extraterrestrial civilization whose communication system bears attributes roughly equivalent to what we deem to call language – excuse me, human language. Oh and by the way, good luck finding it, because the odds are almost certainly stacked trillions to one against us. 
4. The problem gets far more complex, if we just pause for even a moment and allow the scary realization to sink in that any signals we send at the source, particularly geometric, even if they are entirely abstract to us, may run the full gamut from concrete to semi-abstract to abstract and, yes, even beyond abstract and consequently beyond our ken. Just stop and consider for a second what would happen if we sent our silly geometric symbols to a four-dimensional extraterrestrial civilization? I cringe to think of it. And let’s not forget what I just said above: what if another three-dimensional extraterrestrial civilization interpreted absolutely all of our signals, even the two-dimensional, as three-dimensional only? Then there are nuances within nuances within nuances of every shade between these extremes. Beyond these scenarios I have just outlined, my mind simply explodes.

So I will end it there before it does.

However, stay tuned. There’s more, a lot more.  I have scarcely begun. Stay tuned for more on extraterrestrial communication. And stay tuned for a possible breakthrough on an entirely new approach to the first baby steps in deciphering Linear A.  We’re taking the ball where it wants to take us.