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The Somerton Man Case. The body of a man found on an Australian beach close to a major Atomic Testing ground, he was probably poisoned, a copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and an unbroken Code page found and associated to him. Set against a Cold War background in 1948, was this man a spy? We think so and this blog focuses on the evidence that was left behind and in some cases missed, the Code page, Dry Cleaning numbers, A Poem and a small, torn piece of paper bearing the words TAMAM SHUD.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Somerton Man: Nick Pelling's Faux Pas


Nick actually later admitted that he did not follow the steps given to him, in other words, given his statement in the excerpt from his blog post, he appears to have deliberately misled people.

This image was further processed following the original UV light observation step.
Image of Pelling Q taken with Macro lens and saved in PNG format

JPG image of Q from Nick Pelling's Post

The image of the letter Q from the code page that I have posted here to the left above was downloaded from Nick's Cipher Mysteries website. Please note that all of the images he presented in his post were JPEG format enlargements and not close up images. The actual size of Nick's image to the left is 11 mm X  7 mm and 50 mm X 37 mm on screen. In contrast the close up image shown above and to the right has an actual close up size of approximately 70mm X 50 mm in other words the size shown on screen is the actual size. What that means is that there would have been some distortion in Nick's original image which explains the somewhat blurry UV image on the right. Even then you can make out letter and number shapes.

I printed the Pelling image out in high quality and applied a UV light as a first cut which is the image you can see on the right above. Bear in mind that I am using Nick's enlarged JPEG image, not a good format as it is a 'lossy' one and image quality is affected when you start to manipulate it as Nick has done throughout his post. But, let's stick with it for now. Observing it under UV was all that was needed even with this 'lossy' source image and as you can see there are outlines of letters and numbers even using JPEG based format as the source in the circumference of the Q taken under UV light. From this step, you get an inkling of what else might be found, this was the first step in the process. Below is the actual image I published, I used the PNG format throughout my process:

The Background
Earlier this year, March 24th, Nick Pelling published what he claimed to be a well-researched article that attempted to discredit the work I have been doing for some years on the issue of micro writing on the code page. 

Nick had asked me for details of the method I had used to arrive at the result that showed micro writing in the letter Q on the code page. I provided him with the information which included the steps of printing out a high-quality image and the use of UV light, back light and oblique lighting. Nick, for whatever reason, ignored my method in the mistaken belief that he had a better method stating that he would 'Cut out the interim steps and just go for it'.

Depending on how you look at it, his effort failed or he, in his mind at least, had succeeded in discrediting my work. Unfortunately for him, he failed on that account as well. What he actually did was to condemn my work without investigating my methods, he appended the results of his weak effort to my methods. Deceptive and devious? I leave that to you to decide.

Nick has edited his original post and removed some of his more offensive comments. I have kept a copy of the original post for my own enjoyment shall we say.

I am speaking to you directly now Nick, to this point and as with your earlier failures on Police photography methods of the time, lack of knowledge of indented writing recovery techniques, micro writing and radio operators pro-signs, you have displayed a lack of knowledge, skill and experience in this area. I find it sad and disappointing that a person of obvious intelligence should behave in the way you have. You are capable of so much better than that.

With great respect I suggest that you take some steps to rectify the situation, a good start would be to acknowledge that you were wrong and that you should have followed the steps I provided you with. In this way, you might recover some credibility and more importantly gain an insight into what you could achieve if you focused.

From my perspective, from the outset and as per your early statements, you were determined to discredit the work I have done on micro writing. You had condemned my work without testing my methods and that was perhaps your biggest mistake and certainly not a scientific approach.

I will leave you with some wise words from one of the most respected scientific minds in history as well as a copy of your latest iteration of the March Post from your site today with some notes of my own included.

'Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance' Albert Einstein..

Before you read Nick's words, here's a sample of 2 more Micro Writing Images,  still works in progress:

Copied from Cipher Mysteries Post Dated 24th March 2015 

The Rubaiyat note and Gordon Cramer’s “Q”…

Over the last couple of years, Australian researcher Gordon Cramer has been promoting (and indeed gaining a little media attention for) his various theories about the Somerton Man that he has patiently built up over the last four years: for example, that the dead man was a Cold War spy and that the Rubaiyat note contains microwriting.
Specifically, Gordon asserts that he can discern microwriting inside a number of the letters that were found on the back of the Rubaiyat, most notably the letter “Q”.
As I understand it, his claim is that even though the contrasty writing in the image (looks like it) was written in a laundry pen on a shiny surface (say, a print of a photograph), that overwriting process still managed to preserve the fine detail of the original microwriting additively within it: and that by using a carefully chosen sequence of image enhancement steps, he thinks he has been able to reconstruct that original microwriting.
To understand why this would be Nick you would first have to have a handle on the Photography methods used by the Police and Press at that time. They, in fact, used very high-quality glass plate, renowned for their clarity. A photograph taken with such a process would retain a lot of its clarity even at 400 DPI.
I was sceptical of this claim for many reasons. For instance, it seems hugely likely to me that we can see a small part of the original writing that (one would hope) lies beneath the laundry pen marks…
In the image above, you should be able to
see 'larger' numbers in the bigger
highlighted box as well as smaller ones beneath
the Police markings.

…yet as far as I can see, there is no sign there of any microwriting. (Oh! Yes There is! :)) And if microwriting isn’t there, why should microwriting be anywhere else? But I digress. :-) 
That sentence does not make any sense..:) I downloaded your image of the M and gave it some backlight and a little UV with the results as shown above. Nick, why don't you take a few minutes and put the letter M above under a UV light and test out a few angles? You will be surprised at just how much will be visible. The thing is that the whole idea was to keep messages hidden and they used to hide it in plain sight as you can see above.
More recently Gordon has, in response to questions from me, elucidated the experimental process he followed by which he believes he was able to make that microwriting visible. As a result, I have gone through the process of trying to understand and reproduce his results, and I’m posting here to explain what I found.

Sadly Nick failed to follow the steps I provided for him, he was testing his own method and not mine. Big fail Nick! 

Here’s the original Q, cropped and rotated counterclockwise by 90 degrees but otherwise completely unchanged from the original scans:
Nick's image above is actually an enlargement and not a close up image so it will be distorted. Note that Nick did not provide an image of the Q that I had presented so I have done so here, it is a close up image:

We can, without much difficulty, directly pick out the set of grey levels in the image that make up the curve of the Q (that Gordon claims contains the microwriting): and if we adjust the image’s levels so that this range (12.5% to 50%) fills the entire 8-bit dynamic range, this is what we get:
This JPEG image has been enlarged and looks to have brightness and contrast adjusted. Absolutely pointless without first observing the image under UV then backlight and oblique lighting. 
Let’s now blur this (which is essentially what happens when you resize an image to be slightly smaller than 100%):
You must strive for greater accuracy Nick! The images I produce are from the full sized image of the code page, I don't use any magnification just Close up images, png format and taken with a macro lens camera. The image you presented above has been enlarged.
And then let’s sharpen it up again to try to bring out the detail that Gordon thinks is there:
Amazingly, we can now apparently see the word “SEGA” starting to coalesce out of the digital mists. Of course, the video games company SEGA (which started out as “Service Games”) only became known as “SEGA” in 1965 or so (it’s the first two letters of each word), so the actual chances of the Somerton Man having been a secret Sonic The Hedgehog fan are basically zero. Possibly even less.
As people will see in the images I have presented earlier in this post, no sign of sega. Sad. :)
Yet a number of other image processing experiments I carried out on the Q produced different results. All in all, while I can see how Gordon extractedsome kind of microwriting from inside the Q, I also believe that he could have extracted any number of different messages from the same source image (with only slightly different image enhancement sequences), and that he could very likely have extracted plausible-looking microwriting from any sufficiently noisy source image.
Once again, you did not follow the steps I described to you. Heavens Nick people might think you were deliberately trying to mislead them :)
In the Voynich Manuscript world, we have an extraordinarily close precedent for this whole thing: in the 1920s, Professor William Romaine Newbold used large prints of rotograph images, strong lighting and large magnification to extract what he believed to be microwriting – specifically Latin shorthand strokes. The intense effort of doing this seems to have sent Newbold to an early grave, followed by posthumous debunking to the point that he is now often cited as the worst possible way of doing cipher research: which is not a good end to any historical story.
Making me smile now Nick :) The old 'We tried it before and it didn't work so this can't be right' approach. You are trying to compare 90 year old techniques with what we have available today. Are you saying that the good professor had access to digital images as well? Or are you really referring to your own earlier failed attempts at finding micro writing in the Voynich document?
Here, though, we have something that Newbold didn’t have: the possibility of better images. So rather than institute yet another dreary bout of back-and-forth comment tennis, why don’t we just see if we can get a higher-resolution (and higher bit-depth) scan of the photograph in the newspaper archive and see if we can work with that instead? If there is microwriting there, it should come out clearly. If there isn’t, it should vanish completely.

Is the above Pellingese for 'I am not answering any questions in case I don't know the answers'?
Maybe there is a higher resolution image of the code page but I don't think it's going to be released anytime soon by its current holder.
Nick, All the verbal dexterity in the world won't cover the fact that you are clearly wrong and out of your depth and on a number of aspects not the least of which are the mocking undertones and innuendo. They will surely get you into serious trouble one day, just a matter of time.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Somerton Man: Letter T from the torn piece in more detail

Letter T Showing Numbers and Letters

Please remember to adjust your screen resolution to the best possible.
If printing this out once again ensure that you set the printer to high or Best resolution for the image.

Crossbar of T, only oblique lighting used
Curve adjusted

Upright of T, only oblique lighting used
Curve adjusted

Yet more work to do, I think there's more than enough here to demonstrate that there are letters and numbers within the torn piece although still somewhat faded in appearance. It needs to be borne in mind that some kind of special technique was use to insert these letters and numbers and whether that was the Ink H method discussed in earlier posts or perhaps some kind of chemical, I cannot be sure.

One thing for certain is that the torn piece is still in existence and could be/should be tested for the presence of chemicals. If the ink H method was used then the paper would need to be immersed in a strong bleach solution to remove the inks leaving the pencil marks.

The image used was sourced from Adelaide University.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Somerton Man: The T from Tamam Shud torn piece, the key?

What do we have here?

Look carefully at the cross bar of this letter T above from the torn piece. There is a string of numbers reading left to right. Still working on the rest of the letters and feel that I should be able to improve on this and others. This one was taken using the Olympus camera and oblique as well as some back lighting. 

Something that I found late last year that frankly has puzzled me. This is a close up, backlit and enhanced by contrast/brightness, of the upright of the letter 'T' from the Tamam Shud torn piece. Look carefully within the highlighted area and you'll see a short string of numbers in a block type format it is admittedly quite feint but the numbers are there.

I made some enquiries from a long time friend who is a printer, I asked him whether it was common to include serial numbers on a letterpress font. The short answer was 'No' and decidedly 'No' on the print face.

So, what do we have here?

Above is a scaled image showing the torn piece superimposed on an image released at the time purportedly of the actual Omar book. However there are some who think that this image was one of a similar book found and used by the press. It poses an interesting question, if a similar book has not been found in all these years then you would have to wonder how the press got hold of another copy at the time.
Once again you should ensure that you have your screen resolution set to the optimum high res. You may find it best to print the images out and if you do so make sure that you have the printer settings on Best quality.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Somerton Man: Verse 70 Cleaned up images

Clive in one of his comments requested that I show some enhanced images from 70, so here are some worth viewing, here's a couple of tips before you start.
1. Check the screen resolution on your monitor, most often the resolutions are set low or you may just have a low resolution machine.
2. You can print these but again you need to ensure that you have the print quality set high/photo quality

Bear in mind that the Ink H technique in use here means that we are capturing only the darker shaded areas and that the letters/numbers are covered with a dense layer of ink.

The above image is a close up of the first word in the 3rd line (and). You will note the backlit downward stroke of the letter 'd'. I have done a little enhancement to bring up the numbers so that they're more readily visible. Of note is the fact that these numbers are aligned with the inked area, this was part of the technique whereby inked letters were laid down first and then the shape of the letters were used as guidelines within which the micro content would be inserted. My estimation is that these micro numbers are in the range of .5 to .7 mm.

Moving on:

This image is of the first word in the last line  'My' you should also be able to make out the darker tell tale areas in other letters surrounding this word.

I am still working on these images and hope to bring you clearer versions in the next few days.