Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery

By Arturo Sangalli | Go to book overview

Chapter 18
A PROFESSIONAL JOB

Toward the end of January, Trench had news from one of his London agents: an ancient book believed to refer to Pythagoras was being offered at auction. Trench then decided to send Jule to London to look into the matter.

“I need you to travel to London and take a look at a book that’s up for auction,” he told Jule over the phone. “You’ll be leaving tomorrow evening. I’ve already made plane and hotel reservations for you. Richter will give you an envelope with addresses and other details. Call me as soon as you know something.”

“Sure”—that was all Jule had a chance to say before Trench ended the call with a polite “Have a good trip.”

Two days later, after having examined the book, Jule called Trench, hardly containing his excitement: “I’m pretty sure our parchment sheets with the mysterious drawings were cut from this book, the owner probably expecting to fetch a higher price by selling them separately. The page size, appearance, and age of the parchment are very similar—not to mention the fact that both manuscripts have to do with the Pythagoreans and have surfaced at approximately the same time.

“The book is written in Arabic. According to the auction notice, it’s most likely a twelfth- or thirteenth-century translation of a much older Greek manuscript by one of Pythagoras’ disciples reporting the tragic circumstances of his master’s death. Although this interpretation may be open to question, the book nonetheless has an undeniable historical value. The bidding will start at one hundred and eighty thousand pounds.”

-122-

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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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