The Frenchman sailing to find the imaginary roots of the Eiffel Tower

The Local
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The Frenchman sailing to find the imaginary roots of the Eiffel Tower

Have you ever wondered where the Eiffel Tower would end up if it went through the centre of the earth and came out the other side? Well if you have, this Frenchman is working on finding the answer for you.


Laurent Derobert, a French doctor of economics based in Paris’s Montmartre, has been calculating the imaginary roots of the Eiffel Tower.

These coordinates have become the cardinal points of a unique expedition and he prepares to sail the world to locate the points where they would emerge: ashore of Easter Island, Hawaii, Java and Bouvet Island.

The project falls under a new movement he calls “existentialist mathematics”, and will cover 40 000 miles over 1001 nights.

“I was just gazing at the Tower one night on the roof of the Tour Montparnasse, alone with a good bottle of white wine, and suddenly, I saw the four feet of the Eiffel Tower crossing the Earth to the opposite side of the planet”, Derobert tells The Local.

“We have everything – the boat, team, enthusiasm and hope to set off mid-November.”

Karine Fauconnier, Roland Jourdain, Yvon Fauconnier and Eugene Riguidel have designed this epic voyage

This epic sailing voyage has been designed by Karine Fauconnier, Roland Jourdain, Yvon Fauconnier and Eugene Riguide. Photo : Polyphème.

“Even if I’m desperately seasick, I’ll be part of it!”

This epic voyage has been designed with the help of four skilled sailors: Karine Fauconnier, Roland Jourdain, Yvon Fauconnier and Eugene Riguidel. They will document the daily life onboard the ship in a 1001 page diary.

The plan is to leave Paris in November 2019, reaching the northern root in Hawaii by February 2020. The Eastern root will be located in Java in April 2020, before reaching the Western root in Easter Island in October 2020.

The Southern root will be found in Bouvet Island in January 2021, returning to the Eiffel Tower April 2021.

Laurent Derobert fuses mathematical calculations with creative exploration. Photo : Ying-Ju Lu.

The crew plan to partner with the Eiffel Tower, whose 20,000 light bulbs will represent the luminous beacon that guides the ship back home. Each night, it is hoped that the Eiffel Tower will broadcast in Morse code a message sent from the ship. This message will then be translated via a smartphone application, released for this project to keep people updated about the voyage.

There are 39 artists, proposed by Jean de Loisy, president and curator of the Palais de Tokyo, who will take part in floating artistic residencies associated with this project too.

Derobert’s equations have previously been collected into the book Fragments of Existential Mathematicsand exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo. In 2015, the exhibition ‘Tiana’s Conjecture’ saw him write equations using the tears of women who came to confess their heartbreaks. Otherprojects he has been involved in includemeasuring the gap between dreams and realities.

People can sponsor this Eiffel Tower project and receive a selection of gifts including an annotated map, postcards from chosen stopover points with personalised messages from the crew, or grains of sand gathered during the journey and delivered upon return.

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