Neil deGrasse Tyson Breaks Down ‘Interstellar’: Black Holes, Time Dilations, and Massive Waves

from The Daily Beast

“My films are always held to a weirdly high standard,” filmmaker Christopher Nolan told The Daily Beast. It is, however, a high compliment for a blockbuster space odyssey like Interstellar to earn the right to be analyzed on a scientific level; after all, films like Star Wars and Star Trek are never held up to such scrutiny.

Nolan’s Interstellar invites scientific critiques via the participation of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who not only served as a script advisor and executive producer on the film, but also released a companion tome, The Science of Interstellar, explaining the heady concepts employed in the movie.

For the uninitiated, the film is set on a future Earth whose crops (save corn) have been wiped out by a mysterious blight. A farmer and ex-astronaut, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), is tasked with leading a NASA mission through a wormhole to another galaxy in order to investigate three potentially inhabitable planets for colonization. The first planet they land on is close to a supermassive black hole, dubbed Gargantuan, whose gravitational pull causes massive waves on the planet that toss their spacecraft about. Its proximity to the black hole also causes an extreme time dilation, where one hour on the distant planet equals 7 years on Earth. On the second planet, they encounter a marooned astronaut named Dr. Mann, and a fistfight ensues. And the rest, well, I’ll leave that to you to see for yourself.

To wrap our heads around the science of Interstellar, The Daily Beast reached out to renowned astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who also serves as the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History and host of the Fox series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, to help break down many of the hotly debated scenes in the film.

More here.

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4 Responses to Neil deGrasse Tyson Breaks Down ‘Interstellar’: Black Holes, Time Dilations, and Massive Waves

  1. Dakota Best May 1, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    Looking to the sky on a clear night and seeing all the stars there is truly a beautiful site. Being able to see the many stars and solar systems, and even sometimes sometimes and meteors. The movie Interstellar truly made me think even more about space and where we are in relation to other planets and systems. The fact that it would take decades to reach the relative end of our galaxy is absolutely astonishing To know that it takes that long, in our sense of time and travel to make it that far. But other then that, knowing that there are so many other planets out there that could either contain life, or sustain it. The possibilities are endless, because the universe is constantly expanding, and we will never know what’s out there, unless we try to explore.

    The vast unknowing is always a concept that scares man, but even scarier then that is that man does not know if we are alone, or if there are other that are far more intelligent then us. The thought of cross time travel, and cross dimensional travel, could be absolutely revolutionary. the movie brought about many unique perspectives about this. The idea that time could be different on every planet is also astonishing, that time is just a concept that made made up, but could change at an instance. I feel like this movie could really show as to what is out there, the vast and beautiful unknown.

  2. CPA November 12, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

    I was really excited to see that Neil deGrasse Tyson was able to shed some light on the visual marvel that was “Interstellar”. Although Christopher Nolan is known to many of us moviegoers as the mastermind behind the most recent Batman trilogy with Christian Bale, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman among the star-studded cast, he has also created such critically-acclaimed films like “Inception” and “Memento”. Nolan holds his films to a higher standard and we as moviegoers have noticed the extremes he has weathered to ensure that minute details such as the science behind the black hole and the introduction and application of the fifth dimension were nailed to perfection. I was surprised so much of what Nolan had shown throughout the film was scientifically accurate (and I would have to say Tyson is too!) and at the same time so visually stunning.
    Although I am the kind of person who finds many movies to be overly predictable, I was pleasantly surprised by “Interstellar” (though not as much as “Inception”, but that’s a different story for a different day). The ending of (prepare for spoiler alerts) Cooper using the fifth dimension years in the future to explain the predicament facing Earth to his young daughter in the present blew my mind and it’s a concept that Tyson found rather acceptable to his standards of relativity and time in space. I was rather surprised at the attention to these rather specific details were made not only clear by the “scientists” in the script of the movie, but in the visual presentation in order to correspond the audience’s thoughts about these celestial bodies in to realistic graphic images. After hearing about the bust of a plot that Sandra Bullock and George Clooney’s “Gravity” project, I was glad to observe the wonder that was the non-linear story of “Interstellar”, a Christopher Nolan standard.

  3. Veera Sandhu April 7, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

    One exploration that mankind has wanted to explore since the knowledge that there are other planets out there is the theories of multiple universe and discovery of scientific facts about black hole. Christopher Nolan is a talented director who directed The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception, Memento, The Prestige. I was really looking forward to his next project “Interstellar”.
    I was surprised at how the movie was truth to the theories of time travel, black holes, and gravitational pull. I guess bringing Neil deGrasse Tyson, who is renowned as astrophysicist and cosmologist elevated on the factual part of the film. Interstellar made me think about the space and other factual ideas about other planets.
    The vast emptiness scares me sometimes, what if one day like in the movie, we do need to move to other habitable planet, or new solar system. In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.
    I thought the movie was entertaining. Of course not every movie, or this particular movie are realistic but Nolan and team did a great job explaining this drama.

  4. Laurie Gallic October 18, 2018 at 10:59 pm #

    My immediate reaction after reading this article all the way through is astonishment. I’ve seen the movie Interstellar twice and nothing close to these ideas have ever crossed my mind. I remember watching the movie and thinking, “Wow, what a cool concept.” I had no idea that a lot of the movie was rooted in real theories and facts. Not only that but the fact that someone could watch that film and notice these discrepancies is mind-boggling to me. With this new realization that a lot of the ideas of the movie could be/are real I cannot help but think about the future and the idea of this possibly being our future. Is it comprehensible to state that someday far, far into the future people will be searching to inhabit a new planet and floating through black holes and entering into different dimensions? And if they do all of this will there be any hope, is there a place as habitable as Earth or are we conditioned to strictly survive on this planet.
    One of the issues talked about in the article that I found most interesting was the section about dimension and time. What would life look like if we had access to the dimension of time, not as a dual; time and place, but rather as time. In a video I looked up to further help me understand the concept Neil deGrasse Tyson explains it as being reasonable to think that if we moved into a higher dimension we could look at time as we look at space. This concept boggles my mind and makes me beg the question how life would be. If we had access to this dimension of time would our lives every exist in the here and now? And if we were never truly present but could move through time would our lives every end? And could we then distort our past (if past would even be a factor)?
    After reading this article I have found a newfound respect for astrophysicists and the directors/creators of Interstellar. It kind of hurts to think that they went through all this accurate planning and intense research and understanding only to have people like myself state simply, “that was cool.” Although I would guess that it makes it even more rewarding when people begin to discuss these ideas in depth similar to Neil deGrasse Tyson. Personally, I found this article educating and eye opening and a pleasant surprise.

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