Existential Mathematics in Space – European Space Agency, Noordwijk – 12.3.12

The ESTEC Training Service and the Advanced Concepts Team are organising a series of science and technical lectures. This first lunchtime lecture on Existential Mathematics is given by Professor Laurent Derobert from the Université de Avignon.  The fragments of existential mathematics are an attempt to express a universal quest (the search for happiness) in a universal language (mathematics).

The model is fairly simple and relies on two main hypotheses: ◦ All subjects are made of three aspects of beings (objective, subjective, fantasied) and simultaneously inhabit three universes (objective, subjective, fantasied) that determine their identities. ◦ Subjects tend to gather these aspects and universes, trying to minimise distances between them and therefore the anguish (maze).

From there, the analysis moves on to the measures of mobility, inconstancy of beings and feelings, elasticity of values and other existentialist indices of the intellectual and affective balance of the individuals. One of the major ambitions of this modelling tool is to grasp the concept of subjective measure, be it of time (Bergson’s duration) or of space (Borges’ metrics).

Close confinement during extended space flights seems to create suchan environment. To translate this into a rigorous and formal language, these subjective upheavals and states of conscience are, both from a mathematical and philosophical point of view, one of the most stimulating prospects. Another perspective would be to apply the hypothesis of minimisation of the mazes to systems of thoughts and actions beyond the human consciousness. A maze reduction program, through the shaping of beings, universes and values, could for instance be applied to artificial intelligence.