Particle physics? Neutron stars? If necessary in a few minutes? Clear. The Munich physics professor Harald Lesch explains the world of science briefly, understandably, philosophically – and enthusiastically in his TV programs and on YouTube.
The hands draw the orbits of electrons in large arches, point out into the vastness of the universe – or use their fingers to show the moment of concentrated energy during the Big Bang. Even those who opt out in terms of content about the physical wonders of the world are still under the spell of Harald Lesch with his gestures and presence.
His video for Corona went through the roof with 6.6 million hits on Youtube, but even under the dry title “quantum mechanics” – “the theory that physicists themselves say: you can not understand it” – he lured almost 1, 9 million users. He will be 60 on July 28th.
The astrophysicist, philosopher, science journalist and “senior influencer” brings highly complex topics such as particle physics with entertaining titles such as “Is there coincidence” to German living rooms on TV and YouTube. He also received millions of views with “Are we alone in the universe?” – the subject of his lecture on habilitation in 1994. He spared neither the philosophical nor the political part. When the slogan of the 68s was “private is political”, Lesch makes it clear: science – including physics – is political.
“Science is a matter of the polis, it belongs on the market place. Under no circumstances should she hide in laboratories. It even has an obligation to show itself in this way. Society pays science for that, ”says Lesch of the German Press Agency.
The award-winning professor of physics at the Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich and a lecturer in natural philosophy at the University of Philosophy keep making political statements, for example as a member of the Bavarian Climate Council. A few years ago, Lesch took apart the AfD election program, which questions human-made global warming. When he received hate mail, he countered with an analysis of the psychology of hate.
The devout Protestant, who thinks of God as an “elderly gentleman in corduroy trousers”, also examines the question: “Is there a God?” And how does he fit into a world of science? You can learn a lot from those who believe in God, is his conclusion, and: “If he doesn’t exist, then you should invent him.”
Originally, Lesch not only wanted to watch stars, but also fly to them himself. Dream job astronaut: He wrote to NASA. The US space agency canceled friendly – the applicant was only nine years old. Just over a week before Lesch’s ninth birthday, the Apollo 11 had landed on the moon. “Back then I was what you call a nerd today,” Lesch says of himself. He was particularly taken with the science fiction series “Perry Rhodan”. “That was the first time I read anything about neutron stars.” Incredibly difficult in the smallest of spaces – the fascination of the mass and energy-rich stars has never let go of him.
The parents in Gießen at home would have preferred the son to have learned something solid. An electrical engineer, for example, since his father had worked his way up from a farmer to a high-voltage electrician – in a way, of course, this was also a physical job. Lesch’s son did not develop far from technology, he works as an engineer for renewable energies.
Lesch began his media career in 1998 at BR-alpha with the programs “Alpha Centauri” and “Die Physik Albert Einstein”. Then he moderated at ZDF “Adventure Research”, later renamed “Leschs Kosmos”. Despite the late airtime around 11 p.m., he reached an audience of millions. Since 2009, he has been leading the Terra X series “Fascination Universe”, among other things. This also resulted in the video channel Terra X Lesch & Co on Youtube.
At first, he resisted it. «I said: I am 55! I’m not a Youtuber. » And certainly not an influencer. “I always thought these were people who promoted clothes or distributed some pictures.” He is now enjoying it. It is “more anarchic” because “you can also deal with a topic quickly”. Sit down, talk. “I am an educator from top to toe.” He explained all sorts of things early on – on beer mats, napkins and tablecloths.
The ambience of the meetings: borrowed from the 1970s. In the background is a tube screen with the screen saver «Starfield Simulation», which looks like a view from the Enterprise spaceship. In addition there is a globe on which the youth made wanderlust plans before the Internet, and a picture of the Jewish publicist Hannah Arendt, whom Lesch likes to quote. They just “scraped together everything that corresponds to my age”.
The youtube videos – maybe just appetizers. “If a school class on the street appeals to me and says that it also looks at Lesch’s cosmos, then I know that I am on the right track.” If the television contribution is the supreme discipline compared to YouTube, then the lecture in the lecture hall is the “imperial discipline”. Direct contact: irreplaceable.
Smartphone? Not for Lesch. “I have an ancient cell phone. I’m rarely online that way. So I have an incredible amount of time to do what I want – and not what others want. ”You can’t find him on Instagram and Facebook – only fan sites. “I still prefer to write books or do television projects.”
Lesch is currently working on a book about time: You can return to a place, not to a time: “Time is the dimension of change.” And at 60 that plays a role. It felt like more than ten years between 50 to 60. Time is running out. How does he celebrate the rounds now? Others are currently planning this – he will be surprised. “I shouldn’t care.”