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Pythagoras' Revenge


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Table of Contents

Preface ix List of Main Characters xi Prologue xiii PART I: A TIME CAPSULE? 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 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 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 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: Infi nitely 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

About the Author

Arturo Sangalli is a freelance science journalist and writer. He has a PhD in mathematics from the University of Montreal. He is the author of "The Importance of Being Fuzzy: And Other Insights from the Border between Math and Computers" (Princeton) and has contributed many pieces to "New Scientist".


"Who would have guessed that a murder-treasure mystery lay hidden behind a geometric formula familiar to every high-schooler? Weaving a wealth of mathematical scholarship into a compellingly plotted novel, Sangalli recounts a fascinating tale of ancient arson and modern sleuthing, as Pythagoras of Samos (forever linked to the triangular theorem bearing his name) perishes amid brutal intrigues sweeping an early Greek colony, yet leaves behind a tantalizing legacy of numerical reasoning and paranormal mysticism... To be sure, it is the author's own fertile imagination that generates the characters who form this resolute band and then scripts the adventures they encounter in their unlikely international quest... [R]eaders will learn a great deal about real mathematics and its history as they join Pythagoras' modern epigones in pondering the meaning of geometrical patterns, the surprising randomness in numbers, and the logic of mathematical proofs... [T]his engaging narrative will persuade many readers that mathematics offers far more excitement than they had previously supposed."--Bryce Christensen, Booklist "[The book] comes together [around] the tantalizing possibility that Pythagoras, who forbade his followers to write down any of his sayings, may just have left something tangible after all. Sangalli builds his story on this, using clues from ancient texts, bits of mathematical lore and interesting arcana, like the puzzle that couldn't be patented because it had no solution. For a total escape, this novel is perfect."--Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail "Pythagoras' Revenge: A Mathematical Mystery is more than just a novel. It is also an introduction to several big ideas in mathematics, from infinite series to unsolvable puzzles... [T]his romp through ancient and modern mathematics is entertaining in patches, and certainly a cut above standard holiday reading. Despite occasional plot hiccups, its gripping story will likely hold readers to the end."--Physics World "Initially Pythagoras' Revenge was intended to discuss the tyranny of numbers in modern societies in the same style as Sangalli's previous book. But, as if by magic, it became instead a work of fiction... What remains after the end of this page-turner is Sangalli's impressive capacity to communicate mathematics. Let us take this book as a reminder to capitalize on the full potential of scientific storytelling."--Javier Fresan, Notices of the AMS "This is an entertaining read, and although the plot is implausible at times it succeeds in conveying a variety of mathematical and philosophical ideas in a simple and light-hearted way... Pythagoras' Revenge is a gripping novel that offers a refreshing way to learn about mathematics."--Sarah Shepherd, iSquared "Human beings are story making animals, and this book shows that there is an opportunity to make use of this approach in the field. A fascinating attempt."--Brian Clegg, Popular Science "Read this book if you like mathematics and spend some time ruminating over the larger philosophical questions that are implicit in modern math. Such questions go directly to the heart of modern scientific culture."--William Byers, European Legacy "If you like conspiracy adventure, and can dismiss the shallow characters and clunky sub-plots, it's a fun read as you get the history, philosophy, and theories on randomness and math, and of a figure who famously said, 'All is Number.'"--Phil Semler, San Francisco Book Review

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