Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery

By Arturo Sangalli | Go to book overview

Chapter 14
THE BEACON

When Dr. Gregory J. Trench finished his telephone conversation on an unseasonably warm evening in early January 1998, he was wearing a contented smile. The forty-four-year-old physician had been talking to his friend Leonard Richter, who had told him what he wanted to hear: the team was now complete. The team in question had nothing to do with his medical training and everything to do with his religious beliefs. To understand the connection, one must begin with the story of Trench’s conversion to an esoteric faith.

Dr. Trench came from a Catholic family of second-generation Irish immigrants. His grandfather, Tobias Trench, arrived in America from Dublin in 1908 and settled in Chicago, where he opened a small printing shop specializing in religious literature. By the time Gregory was born, in 1954, it was his father, Theodore, who was running the business, which now also included a bookstore: “The Beacon.” Besides its stock of religious publications, the store, located in the basement of the renovated family house, also carried a large selection of books on related subjects ranging from history and philosophy to astrology and esotericism.

Theodore and his American wife Mary Ann were both Roman Catholic. But unlike the woman, who observed the rites and precepts of her creed to the letter, Theodore was not particularly devout. His practice of religion seemed more a matter of tradition than conviction. Even though the couple’s two boys and two girls had been baptized, the father was reluctant to impose the Catholic faith on them.

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Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • List of Main Characters (Chapter in Which They Are Introduced) xi
  • Prologue xiii
  • Part I- A Time Capsule? 1
  • Chapter 1- The Fifteen Puzzle 3
  • Chapter 2- The Impossible Manuscript 10
  • Chapter 3- Game over 19
  • Chapter 4- A Trip to London 25
  • Chapter 5- A Letter from the Past 32
  • Chapter 6- Found and Lost 38
  • Chapter 7- A Death in the Family 46
  • Part II- An Extraordinarily Gifted Man 51
  • Chapter 8- The Mission 53
  • Chapter 9- Norton Thorp 63
  • Chapter 10- Random Numbers 69
  • Chapter 11- Randomness Everywhere 76
  • Chapter 12- Vanished 82
  • Part III- A Sect of Neo­ Pythagoreans 83
  • Chapter 13- The Mandate 85
  • Chapter 14- The Beacon 87
  • Chapter 15- The Team 98
  • Chapter 16- The Hunt 106
  • Chapter 17- The Symbol of the Serpent 115
  • Chapter 18- A Professional Job 122
  • Chapter 19- with a Little Help from Your Sister 126
  • Part IV- Pythagoras' Mission 137
  • Chapter 20- All Roads Lead to Rome 139
  • Chapter 21- Kidnapped 152
  • Chapter 22- The Last Piece of the Puzzle 158
  • Epilogue 169
  • Appendix 1- Jule's Solution 171
  • Appendix 2- Infinitely Many Primes 173
  • Appendix 3- Random Sequences 175
  • Appendix 4- A Simple Visual Proof of the Pythagorean Theorem 177
  • Appendix 5- Perfect and Figured Numbers 178
  • Notes, Credits, and Bibliographical Sources 181
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