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If you think the ending of Interstellar was confusing, try understanding the science — or lack thereof — behind it. Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic, which had a strong opening weekend, touted the accuracy of the basic physics behind its story. 

Renowned theoretical physicist Kip Thorne consulted closely with the director and his screenwriter brother Jonathan Nolan, advising them on how they might use wormholes, black holes, and other spacetime phenomena to send astronauts (played by Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) to far ends of the galaxy. Related: ‘Interstellar': Meet the Physicist Behind the Science of Christopher Nolan's Space Epic The end of the film, however, veers away from proven science into the realm of the very speculative.

McConaughey’s character, Cooper, ends up in a massive black hole, which holds a gigantic bookshelf that allows him to communicate, via Morse Code, with a past version of his daughter, Murph. It’s pretty wild, and a bit mind boggling for us non-scientists, so Yahoo Movies got in touch with Thorne’s colleague at Caltech, Dr. Sean Carroll, to discuss the science behind the end of the film. How much of the film was based on valid, solid science — and what went beyond the science we have today? The ideas of time dilation and visiting the vicinity of the black hole, and how that would sort of send you into the future, and the actual appearance of the black hole and of the wormhole — this was all very respectable, good science. The wormhole itself, the idea that there is a wormhole connecting our galaxy to another galaxy, is more speculative. It’s plausible, it’s something that is not ruled out by strong evidence that we have right now.

And then the stuff at the end, where they actually go inside a black hole and use some tesseract to visit and influence the past, and then somehow come out of the black hole once again was, I think, pretty far beyond anything we’d consider plausible science right now. But there’s enough we don’t know for sure that you can always say, Well, who knows? Related: 9 Modern Space Movies That Will Help Prepare You for 'Interstellar' Is there any science that could make the stuff at the end possible? I think that it was mostly magic. But I think that there were a few phrases thrown out, if I caught them correctly, that were supposed to indicate that this was not a naturally occurring phenomenon — that this was some set-up by a much more advanced species that lives in a higher dimensional spacetime, and has learned a lot about how to mess with the laws of nature. Remember, in the movie there was a brief discussion about how someone could really live in more dimensions, that they would see time as a place they could just visit, and go back and forth.

I take it that what we’re supposed to imagine is that’s what happened. It’s not simply that Matthew McConaughey fell into a black hole. But that we’re being manipulated a little bit by a species that knows a lot more than we do, so they can do things that we just don’t know how to accomplish. Was there any science in the bookshelf? I think that’s just completely speculative. Clearly, if he was going to see anything at all, the only place that that book shelf and that tesseract comes from is his own imagination and that’s not something you and I would see falling through a black hole. I think that needs to be an artificially constructed thing.

I think the big buy in the whole set-up is that not only are there some laws of physics that we don’t understand, which is certainly true, but that there is some hyper-advance species other than human beings that have learned to manipulate them and are helping our hero out a little bit here.

Read 5850 times Last modified on 25.Nov.2014
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On a visual level, Interstellar is an exceptionally well-crafted Hollywood entertainment. Director Christopher Nolan, art director Dean Wolcott, and their effects artists render the imaginary settings in stunning detail.

The film is rife with brilliant imagery: a horizon of frozen clouds, an ocean wave as tall as a skyscraper, the flashing interior of a wormhole through which the principal characters fly their spacecraft.

The most striking thing about these images is that we're rarely encouraged to ooh and aah over them; unlike most ambitious space operas since 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Interstellar inspires not wonder but a cool contemplation. Nolan and his brother Jonathan, who cowrote the script, advance a hard-science perspective, incorporating such concepts as the theory of relativity and placing dramatic emphasis on research and problem solving.

Ben Sachs / Chicago Reader

The Fault in Our Stars: The Empty Wonder of Christopher Nolan’s ‘Interstellar’ and the Overwrought ‘The Theory of Everything’

By the time Christopher Nolan gets to that moment, he’s already contorted the plot enough times to deliver on a promise of entertainment. We’ve seen Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway put on space suits and fling themselves across the universe; we’ve experienced a new, maybe more accurate representation of wormholes. There are robot sidekicks with settings for humor and discretion that look like a brainteaser had a baby with the Monolith from 2001; there’s the appearance of an unbilled movie star who injects some real poignancy and suspense.

Wesley Morris / Grantland
Yes, I recognize the egregious tardiness of this review. “Interstellar” has been out for over a week now. I’ve started and stopped writing about it a good, solid half dozen times, including a three-day hiatus while I was at a ladies’ getaway weekend in Palm Springs with a bunch of school moms. Being functional was not on the agenda. Now it’s time to buckle down and dig in, and I’ll try to do it with both the brevity and directness Christopher Nolan’s film is lacking. It’s a tricky thing, writing about “Interstellar.” Nolan’s latest provokes intense and conflicting reactions, more so than any of his previous films. (And for the record, I’ve been a fan — I love “Memento,” “Inception” and “The Dark Knight.” “The Dark Knight Rises,” not so much, as you may have heard.) It’s a film I didn’t exactly enjoy and can’t say I would recommend. And yet as an event, as a singular movie-watching opportunity, it’s undoubtedly worthwhile. How often do you get the chance to see a film projected in 70mm IMAX? It’s awesome and overwhelming, but also overbearing and ultimately kind of silly. But that’s only the beginning of the contradictions, which are many and maddening.
Christy Lemire / Source
Interstellar: A Preposterous Epic Christopher Nolan's latest film may be inane at times, but it's refreshing in its scale and ambition. Ah, for simpler times back in the spring, when True Detective was on the air and Matthew McConaughey’s Rust Cohle was explaining to us that time is “a flat circle.” McConaughey has now returned for director Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi opus Interstellar, and over the intervening months, the concept of time has only become more perplexing—one dimension out of at least five that make an appearance in the movie. Indeed, a modicum of perplexity may be the price of admission: Though Interstellar is quick to cite Einstein’s theories of relativity—celebrated theoretical physicist Kip Thorne acted as a consultant and executive producer—it rarely slows down to explain how they apply.
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