Farewell to Eduard Punset: The Man Who Brought Science Home

August 18, 2019
Today, we'll be looking at a broadcaster who revolutionized television in Spain by the way he made complex scientific ideas so easy to understand.

The name of Eduard Punset is synonymous with optimism, curiosity, and an insatiable desire for knowledge. Few scientists have been able to transmit the desire to learn in such an amazing way. Few scientists have been able to immerse us in the fields of psychology, astronomy, and anthropology as he did. Today, we say farewell to Eduard Punset, the man who brought science home.

His charisma, his unmistakable voice, his Albert Einstein hair, his remarkable ease at spreading and kindling the passion for science… Eduard Punset was this and so much more. He was a prominent figure on Spanish television with his TV show Redes, which set the benchmark for scientific reporting. He passed away when he was 82 years old.

A clueless scientist?

He had the appearance of a clueless scientist, and yet had a professional background in politics and law. Despite his eccentric appearance, Punset knew very well what he wanted to convey in his program that was broadcast every Sunday morning for nearly 18 years.

While presenting and directing Redes, he achieved something that only figures such as Carl Sagan achieved in their day: he managed to arouse an interest in science in thousands of viewers.

With interviews like the one conducted with Roger Penrose or Max Tegmark, we almost instantly wanted to become physicists or cosmologists and continue understanding the deepest origins of the universe. With conversations such as the ones he had with Jane Goodall, Lawrence Krauss, Antonio Damasio, or Steven Pinker, we were able to understand:

  • The many ideas and theories about our origin.
  • What emotions really are.
  • What possible future awaits us.

Physics, biology, psychology, neuroscience, cosmology… Eduard Punset invited us on a journey of knowledge and exciting discoveries. He inspired us with his enthusiasm, curiosity, and tireless optimism. He totally won his viewers over. For this reason, it isn’t easy to say goodbye. He even inspired hundreds to find their vocations in life. Fortunately, he left behind a great audiovisual legacy and numerous publications.

A knowledge of who we really are, and of our weaknesses, helps us to be happier people.

-Eduard Punset-

Eduard Punset: The politician who opened the doors of science

There are those who always viewed with skepticism the fact that Eduard Punset was considered a scientific popularizer. He came from the world of law and had a postgraduate degree in Economics from the University of London. In addition to that, he also had a long career as a politician. He started out in the Democratic and Social Party of Adolfo Suárez and later became a Europarliamentary from 1987 to 1994.

It was his great ability for communication that inspired Spanish television to ask him to present a science program. And, the truth be known, Punset didn’t have any academic degree or training related to many of the areas that he dealt with every week.

However, he had something much better: charisma, scientific intuition, and a clear ability to transmit knowledge in a simple way. At the same time, he transmitted everything with his infectious passion.

Redes: Scientific knowledge available to everyone

The United States had Carl Sagan in the 80s with his program Cosmos, while Spain had Eduard Punset with Redes. And it didn’t matter that the program was broadcast at dawn. Each week, he had thousands of faithful viewers. People who knew nothing about the worlds of neuroscience, astronomy, or biology suddenly became passionate about these complicated subjects.

The program began airing on March 1996, and in 2008 it made a small change that would make history. Redes was renamed Redes 2.0, and every week Eduard Punset interviewed an internationally renowned specialist. Suddenly, the world of science took on a whole new and friendlier look.

Those who had to get up early to go to work made sure to record the problem. One thing for certain was that everyone learned something new every week. We got to know relevant figures such as Oliver Sacks, James Watson, Francis Crick, Steven Pinker, Robin Dunbar, Lawrence Krauss, Roger Penrose, Jane Goodall, Antonio Damasio, Daniel Dennett, and Lynn Margulis.

He dubbed the interviews in English into Spanish himself, getting used to all those new ideas, theories, and scientific perspectives almost without realizing it, all with his unforgettable voice and charisma.

The books of Punset.

Eduard Punset and his commentary through his books

While presenting Redes, Eduard Punset began a new project which was just as successful: publishing books. He published books such as Trip to Happiness (2005), The Soul is in the Brain (2006), and Why We Are What We Are (2008). This began an era in which, suddenly, access to basic scientific subjects was no longer out of our reach. Immersing oneself in the pages of those books was a pleasure and a stimulating and educational journey.

In his books, we no longer heard his actual voice, but you could sense the unmistakable imprint of the broadcaster who made the complex easy. As he offered us theories and information, it turned science into something that we always wanted to know more about.

Later books, such as Journey to Love (2007), The Journey to the Power of the Mind (2010), or Alice’s Dream (2013) brought us a subject that Eduard Punset loved: self-help.

The Redes program finished broadcasting in January 2014. After that, Punset started to move away from the area of science, and focused on personal growth and self-help.

Farewell to Eduard Punset.

Farewell to Eduard Punset

His gradual withdrawal from the media was brought about by his health problems in recent years. Now he has left us, and whether we realize it or not, the world of science has been somewhat orphaned. The world needs scientists, but it also needs personalities who know how to transmit the magic of knowledge.

Eduard Punset shone like a star, with the passion of a child who wanted to know everything. As we say farewell to Eduard Punset, his audiovisual and literary legacy remain.