Science behind ‘Interstellar’


By Heather Mendiola

The movie “Interstellar” opened in limited theaters yesterday and opens everywhere tomorrow, Nov. 7. “Interstellar” was written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan and directed by Christopher Nolan.

Christopher Nolan is most known for directing the newest “Batman” series movies, as well as the film “Inception.”

“Interstellar” opens on Earth dying and the human race at its end. The only way to survive is by exploring our solar system for a new planet to live on.

In the film, Earth is covered in a blight fungus. The blight fungus in the movie is the same fungus responsible for the Irish potato famine of the mid-1800s, known as the Great Famine. A version of a blight fungus called Ug99 is a threat to wheat in real life.

The film’s blight covers the Earth, destroying crops — a situation that is not unrealistic if the drought in the U.S. Southwest continues. How will the human race survive?

Enter Kip Thorne, one of the world’s leading experts on Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the science advisor for “Interstellar.”

Nolan told New Scientist, “The things he was able to open up for us were far more exotic and exciting than anything I could’ve come up with as a screenwriter.”

What Thorne created was a scientifically accurate wormhole.

A wormhole is a hypothetical tunnel through space-time that can connect distant parts of the universe. Wormholes are predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

In “Interstellar,” a team of explorers is able to use a wormhole to travel to different parts of space looking for an inhabitable planet for the human race.

“Neither wormholes nor black holes have been depicted in any Hollywood movie the way they actually would appear,” said Thorne in a video on how the crew of “Interstellar” built the film’s black hole.

He also mentioned this was “the first time a (film) depiction began with Einstein’s general relativity equations.”

After Thorne created the equations, a team took the equations and created a visual representation of the wormhole.

The scientifically accurate wormhole created for the film has a singular point of infinite density at its heart.

Matter is dragged toward the heart because of the amount of gravity, creating an accretion disc.

Thorne worked out the math of the disc and found that gravity warps the disc around the hole, creating the halo that is shown in trailers.

When you are close to a wormhole, time is different — one hour in space is seven years on Earth — and the film’s explorers must find a new planet before the human race dies out.


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