A Visit to John J. Hall
Played on April 28th, 2013
October 14th, 2010
I'd slept very badly, my dreams disturbed by numbers and the connections between them. I was rather bad-tempered and sluggish during breakfast and I may have taken out my temper on the others. I drank a mix of Red Bull and Monster Energy drink to wake me up. While it made me feel more alert, it also made me more nervous and skittish.
Mike, the beat cop, had disappeared early in the morning. Apparently he had more pressing matters than supercharged numbers and massacres.
We pondered some questions while making plans for the day. How had Wei gotten here? There was a Greyhound line from New York to Philadelphia, but that's another 65 miles away. Some others searched for a car in Alliance, but noone had seen any new cars around. Mental note: we had to look at the Greyhound surveillance camera's in Philly to make sure.
First we had to investigate Wei's rooms at Columbia University. So we flew back to New York and visited John J. Hall. Some sort of PR lady was drummed up once we announced our presence at the front desk, one Sandy Beema. Wei had been working alone. Ever since his Master's he had had the same tutor, but he rarely saw him. Miss Beema let us into his rooms, which were a mess. A mixture of the asocial bachelor pad with work-obsessed mathematician. There were notes and books everywhere, a bit like my room when I'd needed to cram for exams.
I took photos of everything and then sat down behind his PC -- I was pretty sure that was my task in the "team". It didn't seem likely any of the others had any skills in the computer department whatsoever. The PC was still on, and I could access everything. No passwords anywhere.
The last mail he'd sent was dated the day before yesterday, at 06h41 AM, and was addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org. I tried to skim the long mail, but my eyes were drawn towards details and what I read shocked me. Already frazzled by a lack of sleep and an overdose of caffeine, it took all my willpower to keep my composure.
Pushing through my haze, I noted the names of the mathgeeks and their admin, one Gulio Kimbrel, a math prof at Alfred University in upstate New York. The mail didn't contain The Number, but it had to be suppressed.
Edward found a scrap of paper with another number on it. 101210/921/50.796901/-73.968158. The first two parts seemed date and time, the latter two parts seemed to be GPS coordinates, and they corresponded with the 24th Precinct of the NYPD!
While I was doing my thing, Grace had been doing her. Apparently she is some sort of medium. The whole was coated in dark blue "chakras", but under his sofa pillow was an ultraviolet chakra. She found a large stack of tattered photocopies there, the Libre Plures Admiratio, or The Book of Many Wonders. It had been writtenn in the late 16th century by one Fascius Claudan. This was a translation from 1944 by Maurice Esther, published by Educational Studies. Wei had made notes all over the pages. On the final page he'd broken his pnecil by pressing too hard on it.
I didn't stop to think and read some portions of the book. Stupid! Again, I wa shaken -- the book and Wei's notes discussed the Laques Solution, which is kind of the Holy Grail for mathematicians, a sort of Theory of Everything. How was it that this knowledge was all here?
Next, we checked the phone logs. Wei called he parents quite often, and one number in New York. Apparently, that belonged to Anthony Dujardin and Molly Frank, students who lived in John J. Hall as well.
Beema came back with some extra information. It turned out that Wei had two papers on his name, one about big Merzen numbers and one on how those could be computed using distributed algorithms. Also, Wei's professor was named Johnson, but Beema didn't think visiting him would help the investigation.
Next, I summoned my inner theater player and visited Dujardin and Frank. I pretended to be Kelly Kesselman, a mathgeek from MIT who was worried about Wei. Dujarding and Frank were a couple and befriended Wei. They tried to get him a date. Obviously, they were quite shocked about what had happened, but they also assured me that they could not believe Wei had done what he had. While I had heard that before, I could symphatise with them and felt bad for tricking them. I left quickly.
We visited the library next, where Larry ascertained that the Book of Many Wonders wasn't in their possession. The visit to the cafetaria was equally fruitless, as was the visit to the Applied Physics and Mathematics lab. Nobody thought Wei could've done such a thing, he didn't behave any weirder than usual. It had been four days since Wei had logged on onto his workstation.
Next up: the 24th precinct!