First, the question, because without questions there is no science. Was it Borges who said that? Says Andres Jumperov, in one of the Zoom windows Which brings these two physicists together with this journalist. Jumperov remembers the following phrase: “Friendship does not need frequency. Love does.” He went to save her from his memory drawer to contribute to his friendship with Jose Edelstein, who is in the other window at Zoom.
By the way, Borges was talking about his friendship with Adolfo Pewi Casares. Although on another scale, Jumperov and Edelstein have more in common with these artists than they are friends. When they write, both physicists are not just scientists seeking to tell scientific stories. They strive to create something like work, contribute to genre, create value and, above all, give pleasure.
The three of us are talking on screen and even though I’ve known them for several years, because once I had the hardest pleasure of editing their texts when they were writing for Qué Pasa, I couldn’t help but feel like a stranger looking out of a window at the home life of a modern family. Like any duo who has been together for years, Gomberoff and Edelstein have their own ways and dynamics. For example, Edelstein, an Argentine and academic at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, speaks the most and remembers the most details. In a couple, he will be the one who will remember the anniversary.
Jumperov, the Chilean physicist, author of several books and a researcher at the Center for Scientific Studies (CECs) who is currently spending his days between Santiago and Valdivia, has a “more impressionable” memory in his words. “We have been friends for a long time,” he says, for example. “That was in June 1992, in Huerta Grande, Cordoba. A triennial conference on general relativity where everyone came,” Edelstein says.
Both were doctoral students, Jumperov at the University of Chile, Edelstein at the National University of La Plata. General Physicist, they were great… Then they kept finding each other in the timing that science gave it: conferences in Chile in 1994, Stephen Hawking’s visit to Santiago in 1997, and so on. As with all good stories, one thing led to another.
Now they remember everything, one of them was more detailed than the other, regarding the Chilean edition Antimatter, magic and poetry (Originally published in 2014 in Spain by the University of Santiago de Compostela and now by Debate), which collects 23 four-handed texts and somehow works as a kind of blogging for a creative duo.
Jumperov always says Edelstein is the writer. Edelstein says he is a disciple of Jumperov. And they’re both right: This is neither an enjoyable exchange nor an exaggeration.
They are texts that evoke their moments, memories of their passage through parallel universes. Just as when they were in a paradise environment, on a Greek island where a science conference was being held, they were taped to a screen to analyze a black and white video of a play at the 1962 World Cup in Chile.
That was in 2009, when they were writing Lionel or Flag Free Kick, Using Lionel Sanchez’s goal against the Soviet Union in Arica to explain the principles of overhead. the flame. “It was a very interesting technical discussion,” Edelstein recalls. It’s one of the few texts they’ve personally written: Distance has turned this pair into a kind of teleworker kind of pioneer. The writing somehow forced them to see each other more, because as friends they could spend more time, years, without seeing each other. Because friendship, unlike love, does not require hesitation.
Jumperov always says Edelstein is the writer. Edelstein says he is a disciple of Jumperov. And both are right, this is neither an absolute exaggeration nor an exaggeration.
You have to understand that Jose Edelstein was a young electronic engineering student tired of his career when he thought of taking the big leap. Perhaps it was time, he thought, to pursue the dream of becoming a writer. But academic life has other laws of attraction: physics, which was his other option, allowed him not to start from scratch, and winning a scholarship at the prestigious Balseiro Institute in Bariloche was crucial. Literature must wait.
For his part, Jumperov had mostly not thought about writing, which was not an academic article when Qué Pasa magazine in 2008 asked him for collaboration: reviewing a book on science and cooking. It was the start of an alternate and somewhat arduous career, at least in the beginning. “There was always a tremendous weight to me in knowing that there were colleagues who were reading and could see in the text an understatement or a lack of accuracy and precision,” he explains today. That was before his great discovery. “You start to think that you are teaching science, and this is probably the biggest mistake anyone makes, and it’s a word I don’t like. And you finally realize that you are doing something else, and that it’s not just a story about a disciplinary field, but in itself it is a valuable topic. It’s something different. “
When Jumperov removed his anchors and learned to build his literary self-esteem, Edelstein said no.
“When I started seeing Andy writing, when I read it on Qué Pasa, I loved it, and it felt a little envy,” he recalls. “And he started inviting me to write something with him, but my first answer was no, I don’t have time. I think he knew very well that if he tried to be the beginning of something too big. I said no many times,” Edelstein says. It has to be a genius to change that dynamic.
Stephen Hawking’s visit to Santiago de Compostela put Edelstein into a conversation with a journalist who was looking for a physicist to explain the importance of the English physicist. Edelstein began to speak with astonishment. He started telling a story. For a rather long time, unfortunately, she was upset with an interview different from the one she was looking for. “I didn’t realize it and suddenly I was talking for an hour and a half,” recalled the Argentine. “There I talked to Andy and said, Well, I have the topic. So, in principle, we did it for the only time.”
It will be the first of many unique times. Partly because what Edelstein feared had happened: The young himself had come to collect the bill.
But when Edelstein decided to jump into the pool, Jumperov was already gathering water. Or, to use a more agricultural metaphor, “I came to actually plant a plowed field. And on that, Andy was my teacher.”
The text they wrote won the National Prize for Academic Disclosure of Universities in Spain, and has been reproduced in various parts. It was called antimatter, magic, and poetry.
Jumperov does not see himself as a writer, but he does acknowledge literary ambition in him. This is the reason for his objection to calling the “scientific pioneer”. “I refuse to call it that, because it implies that it is a projection of something that cannot exist on its own,” he explains. “Scientific writing that is not fiction is something in and of itself, and therefore can interact with science and not come only from science.” Gomberoff is confident that works such as his and Edelstein’s can contribute to the growth of this genre of scholarly non-fiction, which, although more sophisticated in the Anglo-Saxon world, has yet to reach the peak that, in his view, or should.
“A few years ago, Richard Dawkins (an evolutionary biologist and famous author) was asking for a Nobel Prize for Stephen Pinker,” Edelstein recalls to make the point, referring to the linguist and best seller. “Just as they gave it to Bob Dylan or before it to Winston Churchill, it suggested that this new literary genre should be recognized. It was time to get to know a scholarly communicator.”
Do not misunderstand: it is not a general acknowledgment of what this couple has been longing for, but rather a consolidation of the field of action that has transformed themselves from being a substitute to being fundamental to their goals.
Perhaps it is about scales. A physicist thinks of scales differently from other humans. Edelstein explains, for example, that the wonder of gravitational waves is that they allow one to stare at a universe that is impossible to notice: one that is more than 300,000 years old. Meanwhile, Jumperov and Edelstein have written much about the tiny particles whose existence can only be inferred, but which have far-reaching consequences for their environment. It might look like this: as small things, but with the potential to produce something bigger.
A few years ago, when the famous American astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson revived the TV series Cosmos, which made Carl Sagan famous, he told a story when he met his teen, Sagan, his idol. How that was the ultimate spark in his career, not only in science, but also in scientific communication. Jumperov, who is known for his big bang on the Carl Sagan series, knows this story very well. So it is natural to ask him if he aspires to be the catalyst for the path of other communications or science fiction writers.
Without hesitation, he answers “Yes.” “To me, it is very important, and in fact, I am thinking of projects to put into practice. I know that I am not a Truman Capote who will conquer this species or discover it, but I hope to say that I helped that character be born at some point.”
Edelstein agrees, saying, “For me it’s also an ambition.” “I know there are dozens of children who want to study physics because of our texts, conversations and courses,” he adds. “At first my motivation was to write to pay off this debt with the young man who chose physics, but then when this started to emerge I loved it. Suddenly you can see that you can reach a lot of people,” he says, mentions his project: a platform for conversations, courses and networking meetings. Scientific that was baptized with the name given to their teachers Quechua. “Amautas has tremendous aspirations: to change the world.”
– And people laugh when I say it, of course. It’s an imaginary attempt to make a difference. Sure, the world will remain the same, but when you get older you want to change the world for some people. And we can make sure of that. B