Inspiration – Spiru Haret: Mathematician & Politician

Spiru Haret was born in 1851 to an old Armenian family in Jassy, capital of Moldavia, and had already published two mathematics textbooks by the time he entered the University of Bucharest in 1869. After graduation he went to the Sorbonne in Paris to write a PhD on planetary orbitals, and did major work on the n-body problem.

Coming back to Romania in 1878, Haret largely abandoned research for politics, although he also taught mechanics at the University and at the engineering school for highways and bridges. He served three terms as Minister for Education and completely overhauled the nation’s education system between 1897 and 1910.

In 1910 he published a work on Social mechanics, attempting to apply mechanical branches of mathematics to analyse a nation’s character and predict its progress, and in 1912 a study of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot; Haret also founded the Bucharest Observatory. In our timeline, he died in 1912.

How could he feature in the game?

The fateful year of 1910 features heavily in Haret’s life, and reveals the part he plays in Promethean history. As Minister for Education, he has complete control of who is taught what and how the nation is trained; he also works closely with the propaganda branches, especially in policing the version of modern history and Karl Baden’s life taught in schools. A particular concern has been to purge priests from teaching positions.

Remember that his mathematical speciality of orbital mechanics is also Professor Moriarty’s field – obviously, Haret is at least as devious as the London criminal mastermind. This means that his ten years in Paris may have been a cover for scientific and industrial espionage, and laying down a network of informants and secret agents to keep an eye on the Promethean exile community.

And what of Social mechanics? There are two possibilities here – the first is that Minister Haret had published the book, in which case the other nations of Europe have to work out what it means, how much the Baden government actually believes of this arcane branch of mathematical sociology, and what weaknesses it may reveal. There’s also the possibility that the book is a bluff, or keeps some theories back, or that although it sets out a whole new science, no other nation has the computing power to make use of it.

The second, worse case would be if Haret is known to be working in the field, but has kept his results secret. If so, it is of vital importance to know what Promethean Social Mechanics predict for Europe and the world. A team of spies sent into the country to try to steal the Minister’s working notes or punch-cards would have a very risky mission indeed. Perhaps they could run a double-bluff, pretending to sell Resistance secrets from the Paris network? Or invent a cover as astronomers, to take advantage of the Minister’s only known passion? Then again, perhaps his interest in other planets is not a mere academic hobby, but something sinister…


Contributor Bio:

Mortmere is a literary and academic translator living in Giurgiu, Romania, on the Danube, where there is now a bridge to Bulgaria rather then the hordes of horrors that patrol the river in the Promethea timeline.  He translates from four Central/East European languages into English, and his workload includes everything from science fiction blockbusters through Kafkaesque black comedy to, most recently, a book on Mongol history. He has more university degrees than are really useful, in languages and historical research


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