The scientific method requires a significant dose of imagination from which new hypotheses, alternative paths or possible solutions to various bottlenecks emerge. Sometimes that imagination flies so high that it leaves the laboratory and ends with the scientist as the director of a television series. This is the case of Carlos Barceló Serón, a researcher at the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics, based in Granada, and a specialist in gravitation and black holes. Barceló dreamed back in 2015 that it was time to spread the word about gravity and its relationship with Einstein’s general theory of relativity. “Some informative videos”, says this man of science, made up the original idea.
But the dream acquired a greater dimension and Barceló ended up as scientific director of Territory Gravitya 13-episode docuseries dedicated to the sciences of the cosmos with gravity as the backbone. Four of the eight episodes that make up the first season premiere this week on Documenta2on TVE 2 at seven in the evening, one every day from Monday to Thursday. Starting this Friday, February 24, the entire first season can be seen on Filmin or Vimeo. The second season, almost ready, still does not have a release date.
Barceló was looking for “someone from the audiovisual world with scientific sensitivity” and that is when Nacho Chueca, director and television producer, crossed his path. From that meeting, those informative videos have become a project of thirteen chapters, between 55 and 70 minutes long.
Talking about gravity, black holes and Albert Einstein is not easy to do or to digest. Searching for more striking formulas for the viewer, Barceló and Chueca have fled from the usual presenter/interview format “with astrophysicists in their offices,” says the latter, or the usual infographic to delve into the territory, risky in this field, of the cinematographic, in which they have inserted interviews with specialists. “Metacine” is defined by Barceló. The couple has chosen to talk about science in the middle of a cinematographic fiction, in search of “the emotion of knowledge”, in the words of Chueca. The starting point is the discovery of gravitational waves, which Einstein had enunciated but which were not detected until 2016. From there, six fictional characters led by the journalist Laura Alhambra try to shoot a series on the subject, thus generating a work within a work to guide the viewer through the intricacies of gravity in a less rigid way than the usual format in popular science. The cast is completed by 60 researchers from around the world, including three Nobel Prize winners.
Barceló began to think about the idea in 2014, when he was president of the Spanish Association of Gravitation and Relativity. The researcher, who has always paid attention to dissemination, recalls that “2015 celebrated the first centenary of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which turned our way of understanding the universe upside down.” Filming began at the end of 2016 and ended in March 2020. The work is promoted by the Spanish Society of Gravitation and Relativity, produced by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, of the CSIC, and by Lipsync Medialab SRL and has received “money scientific”, detail the directors. They refer to the participation of numerous universities, foundations and other institutions in the field of research, which has allowed them to complete the necessary financing to get the project up and running.
gravity territory It is a fiction that requires attention due to the level of complexity of the issues it deals with. As a character says at the beginning of the series, what people know about gravity is “that thing about Newton’s apple or the weight of things”, but this docuseries goes much, much further. Einstein’s theory of relativity, the stellar ecosystem, black holes (two episodes for them), the expansion of the universe, dark energy, gravitational waves (also two episodes) or the relationship between relativity and quantum mechanics are some of the issues it deals with. The directors have done everything possible to facilitate the approach of the subject. “We have tried to give additional textures, offer warm information,” says Barceló. “It is a broadband disclosure, in which there are many levels of language and each one can enjoy what they prefer, and do it in their own way”.
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