Sunday, November 30, 2014


Interstellar is a long movie, almost three hours.  Or perhaps, now that THC has absorbed the science that underlies the movie (with the help of the THC Son, the Official Science Advisor of this blog who attended the IMAX screening with his father) it may have been 23 days long or 51 seconds long.  Actually THC's head still hurts thinking about this. That's what happens when you are dealing with a dying Earth, trying to save humanity, shooting through wormholes, falling into black holes and the Singularity all while worrying about the impact of relativity.

The movie is unsteady and erratic at times and the acting is bland with the exception of Matthew McConaughey and MacKenzie Foy (who plays the younger version of McConaughey's daughter) though the other actors include Michael Caine, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck and John Lithgow.  Without McConaughey and Foy the movie would have no emotional center.  Also, the music is so loud at times you can't hear the dialogue.  With all that it is definitely worth seeing.  The story is intriguing and thought provoking, the visuals are striking and it is oddly optimistic about humanity in contrast to the tide of apocalyptic doom mongering movies of the early 21st century.  Plus, you get to see what the inside of a black hole may look like.
The film is directed by Christopher Nolan, whose brother Jonathan wrote the screenplay.  Nolan has made some of the most intricate and interesting films of the past few years including Memento, Inception and the last three Batman movies, of which the second, The Dark Knight is brilliant. 

And, in contrast to Lucy, the THC Son advises that Interstellar does a fairly decent job on getting the science right.  According to Wikipedia, Nolan hired Kip Thorne, retired Feynman Professor of Theoretical Physics at CalTech, as a consultant "to ensure the depictions of wormholes and relativity were as accurate as possible".  According to Thorne:
 "For the depictions of the wormholes and the black hole we discussed how to go about it, and then I worked out the equations that would enable tracing of light rays as they traveled through a wormhole or around a black hole—so what you see is based on Einstein's general relativity equations."
Wikipedia goes on to say:
"In creating the wormhole and a supermassive rotating black hole . . .  Thorne would provide pages of deeply sourced theoretical equations to the artists, who then wrote new CGI rendering software based on these equations to create accurate computer simulations of the gravitational lensing caused by these phenomena. . .  The resulting visual effect provided Thorne with new insight into the effects of gravitational lensing and accretion disks surrounding black holes, and will lead to the creation of two scientific papers, one for the astrophysics community and one for the computer graphics community.

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