His charisma, his unmistakable voice, his hair Albert Einstein, his remarkable ability to infect us passion for science… Eduard Punset was this and much more, a figure as media as dear that marked a before and after in the field of scientific dissemination on Spanish television with its Redes program. Today, with its loss at age 82, it leaves us without a doubt a great void.
He had the appearance of a clueless scientist, and although in his personal career had been linked to politics and law, Punset knew very well what he wanted to convey in that program that aired on Sundays at dawn. They were almost 18 years presenting and directing Networks, achieving in turn, something that only figures like Carl Sagan managed in his day: to awaken the scientific curiosity of thousands of spectators.
With interviews like that of Roger Penrose or Max Tegmark, I almost instantly realized that we wanted to become physicists or cosmologists to continue to deepen the origin of the universe. With conversations like those he had with Jane Goddall, Lawrence Krauss, Antonio Damasio or Steven Pinker, we were able to understand ideas and theories about our origins, what emotions really are or what possible future awaits us as humanity.
Physics, biology, psychology, neuroscience, cosmology … Eduard Punset invited us to a journey of knowledge and exciting discoveries through his own enthusiasm and a curiosity imbued with tireless optimism. And he conquered us. It is not easy, therefore, to say goodbye to someone who encouraged and even awoke vocations in hundreds of young people. Fortunately, we have his great audiovisual legacy and also his many publications.
“An awareness of who we really are, of our weaknesses helps us to be happier.”
Eduard Punset, the politician who opened the doors of the world of science
Some people have always viewed with skepticism the fact that Eduard Punset was considered a scientific popularizer. He came from the world of law, had a postgraduate degree in economics from the University of London and also had a long career as a politician. First within the Democratic and Social Center of Adolfo Suárez and later as a member of the European Parliament from 1987 to 1994.
It was his great ability for communication so that Spanish Television proposed him to present a science program. And indeed, Punset did not have any academic degree or training related to many of the areas in which deepened each week. However, he had something much better: charisma, scientific intuition and a clear ability to transmit knowledge in a simple way, in turn, infecting his passion.
Redes, scientific knowledge available to everyone
If in the United States they had Carl Sagan in the 80s in the Cosmos program, in Spain we had Eduard Punset in Redes. And it did not matter that the program was broadcast at dawn. Each week had thousands of faithful viewers willing to let themselves be surprised, to make of the profane of the world of neuroscience, astronomy or biology, sudden enthusiasts of those singular universes.
The program began to be broadcast in March of 1996 and it was in 2008 when he made a small change that would make history. Redes changed its name to Redes 2.0 and every week, Eduard Punset interviewed an internationally renowned specialist. Suddenly and for the first time, the world of science came to our country in a new and especially close way.
Who had to get up early the next day left the program to record. Because if there was something sure, is that every week we learned something new and we knew firsthand such important figures as Oliver Sacks, James Watson and Francis Crick, Steven Pinker, Robin Dunbar, Lawrence Krauss, Roger Penrose, Jane Goodall, Antonio Damasio , Daniel Dennett or Lynn Margulis.
These interviews in English were doubled by him, accustomed us almost without realizing, to understand all those ideas, theories and scientific perspectives through his voice and his unforgettable charisma.
Eduard Punset and the disclosure through his books
While presenting the Redes program, Eduard Punset started a new and equally successful work: the publication of books. Works such as The Journey to Happiness (2005), The soul is in
The brain (2006) or Why we are as we are (2008) began a time when, suddenly, access to basic scientific issues was no longer tricky, but quite the opposite. To immerse oneself in those pages was a pleasure, it was to undertake a stimulating and educational trip.
In his books we no longer listened to his voice, but that unmistakable imprint of the disseminator remained, making the complex easy, offering theories, rigorous data and turning science into a path in which one always wants to know more. Perhaps for this reason, other works such as El viaje al amor (2007), El viaje al poder de la mente (2010) or El sueño de Alicia (2013) in which Eduard Punset arrived at another discipline in which he ended up staying: self help
The Networks program ended in January 2014, and little by little, it was separated from the field of scientific dissemination to focus, precisely, on that area of personal growth and self-help through the Apol (Online Psychological Support) office.
His progressive withdrawal from the media was encouraged by his health problems in recent years. Today has left us, and with its emptiness, whether we like it or not, the world of science remains more orphan for a simple reason: the world needs scientists, but also personalities who know how to transmit to us the magic of knowledge.
Eduard Punset had the brightness of a nebula and the passion of a child who yearns to know everything. His flash will last forever. There we have his audiovisual and literary legacy to remember him whenever we need it.