It was a really fun thing. We left a lot out of the video—it was a very inside-baseball conversation once the three of them got going—a lot of numbers flying back and forth, and this graph and that graph, and talking about different physicists that they needed to work with, and next steps, and everything. We ended up stripping that, though, and just including the stuff that would resonate the most.
How standard are videos like these? Do you have a full production team?
We have a small team, and we produce news videos for a lot of the stories that we do. But this was really a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Maybe you top it with a flying car or something like that, but we don't normally get to just tag along and be there when someone tells a world-renowned physicist that the theories he's been sitting on for 30 years are most likely right.
I knew it was going to be moving going in, but I just had no idea. I think people always think of physicists and scientists in general as people list sitting behind a calculator or computer or whatever, crunching numbers. But they're so much more than that. And I think this video does a pretty good job of showing that other side of them. But it's not normal. I don't know how to top this.
One of my favorite moments of the video is Renata's first reaction to the news. You could just see all of that story written on her face as she reacted to the news—all those 30 years, in one expression.
Yes! When we got inside, Andrei just kind of fell into his chair, and was processing everything. His hands were shaking too much to open the bottle of champagne. But she was just clicking, and getting glasses down, talking to everybody, making everybody comfortable. She was just super-excited. And it was a really touching moment between the two of them, too.
Were there any re-takes that you did? Does this video, in other words, have a blooper reel?
We didn't do any re-takes. The goal was for it to be a really natural thing. We did ask him to tell us what he was feeling and what the research means. But what you see in the video is just very off-the-cuff and raw. Part of it was, we went there not even knowing if we'd be able to use or keep anything that we did. It was just as likely that he would have been emotional in a way that he didn't want us to share, or that his wife didn't. So we went into it with no guarantee—we knew we'd be able to shoot, but didn't know if we'd be able use it. So we're thankful that they agreed to let us do that.
I'm not surprised they did, though. So many people associate science, and especially cosmological science, with detachment—it's important and impressive and also totally incomprehensible. The video emphasizes how human cosmology is, at its core: People are investing their careers in that work.
Not just their careers, but their lives—they've built their lives around this work. Andrei's been around the world for the past couple decades talking about this theory. It's always looked pretty solid on paper, but people can detract all they want until they actually see some evidence. So it was joy and relief—and they were both so humble about it.