‘Dark Matter’ Uses Science to Explore Regret and Desire

In the new series “Dark Matter,” a physics professor (Joel Edgerton) is abducted off the streets of Chicago and replaced by an alternative version of himself. This version, instead of toiling away teaching distracted undergrads, is a prize-winning scientist who, among his various accomplishments, has invented a box that can superposition people into parallel worlds.

This alternative Jason, despite his riches and renown in his own universe, covets the humbler Jason’s life and family — his loving wife (Jennifer Connelly) and son (Oakes Fegley). So he steals them, leaving the original Jason to negotiate a limbo of parallel realities, hopping from one to another as he tries to find his way home, like a sci-fi Odysseus.

“Dark Matter,” which premieres May 8 on Apple TV+, was created by Blake Crouch, adapting his own 2016 novel of the same title. The series is part thriller, part family drama and part physics primer, enlisting heady concepts like quantum mechanics, superposition and, well, dark matter, to tell a story about longing, regret and desire.

It is the latest project to depict physics as a vital, fraught and even sexy subject, joining the Oscar giant biopic “Oppenheimer” and the Netflix alien invasion series “3 Body Problem,” which is named for a classical mechanics problem. In these stories, physicists wrestle with matters of life and death that, as in reality, are intertwined with matters of love.

They’re human tales about human dilemmas. But they’re also happy to throw some science into the equation.

“More than anything, Blake and I wanted people to be excited in every episode, learn something in every episode, but also maybe cry in every episode,” Jacquelyn Ben-Zekry said in a video interview. She is a writer and producer on the series and has been Crouch’s developmental story editor since the publication of his 2012 novel “Pines” — she is also married to him.

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