Fact or fiction? 6 things that Nolan's 'Interstellar' got right and wrong about science

Arun George

Nov 10, 2014 16:32:27 IST

So if you're one of the few hundreds that saw Christopher Nolan's space take Interstellar over the weekend, you're undoubtedly filled with a lot of questions mostly to do with time, gravity, black holes, worm holes and inter-planetary travel. And the good part is there are enough people who have sat and decoded the plausibility of the various scientific jargon that the film throws at its audiences. (PS: Lots of spoilers ahead)

Does a black hole look like that?

Yes, if you believe astrophysicist Kip Throne, who's also the executive producer of the film. He says the special effects used to render the black hole in the film were based on real mathematical models which led to the discovery that black holes might look like they do in Interstellar. And he's even going to present a paper on it. Don't believe us? Check out the official featurette:

 Fact or fiction? 6 things that Nolans Interstellar got right and wrong about science

AP image

Black holes absorb everything, how was the first planet in such a close orbit to it?

Turns out it could be possible if the black hole is rotating and not a non-rotating one. Writing for Slate, Phil Plait complained about how no planet could possibly be in that stable an orbit around the black hole only to withdraw saying that if the black hole was rotating it would allow a planet to be in orbit around it. This would also allow for the time dilation in the film where one hour on the planet equals seven years on earth.

What does all that mean? Interstellar got it right.

Can you jump into a black hole and come out looking as good as Matthew McConaughey?

Not unless you've got his looks already. So no one really knows what happens to anyone who jumps into a black hole given no one we know has done it yet. According to this fact check by Time, there's a simple term for what's expected to happen if you happen to jump into one soon - "spaghettification".

According to cosmologist Brian Greene, how quickly you get spaghettified depends on how big the black hole is. Basically if you're planning on jumping through a black hole have a good make up artist waiting on the other side.

However, you may be able to send communication from a black hole to someone outside it. But you'd have to send it before you get spaghettified.

Could the worm hole like that in the film work like that?

The consensus seems to be: Yes.

The only problem, as the Time article notes, is that the wormhole in the film would need a massive object equivalent to about 100 million of our suns to generate the kind of gravity field required. And that could damage neighbouring planets, which didn't happen in the film at any point.

Are CASE and TARS the coolest on-screen robots yet?

We're going to go with yes, for now. Rectangular, menacing and "obsolete" when first seen, it turns out the robots are lightning fast, efficient and even have trust and humour settings, thereby providing the only light moments of an otherwise serious film. They're not pleasing to the eye and the they walk pretty funny, but they're pretty awesome when they're on a roll.

However, not everyone's as enamoured by them, Josh Wigler writing for Digital Trends: Great as they are, TARS and CASE represent Interstellar‘s, and Nolan’s, great failure. The robots come equipped with customizable personality settings; their humor and honesty levels can be programmed on a scale of one to 100%. It’s as if Nolan deliberately applied that formula to his characters.

Does love survive space-time, gravity and every other dimension

Apparently, as long as you don't jump into black holes and get spaghettified. Because:

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Updated Date: Nov 10, 2014 16:35:19 IST