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Interstellar's portrayal of wormholes found to be scientifically accurate


Story by Jack Foley

CHRISTOPHER Nolan’s sci-fi epic Interstellar has won the resounding approval of scientists for the way in which it depicts wormholes.

Scientific papers have been published in the American Journal of Physics and in Classical and Quantum Gravity backing the film, with some scientific experts even calling for the film to be shown in schools in the United States.

Interstellar follows a dedicated father named Cooper (played by Matthew McConaughey) as he is asked by a NASA scientist (Michael Caine) to lead a mission through a wormhole in the solar system to search for new planets that could sustain human life and save our species now that Earth is dying.

It was met with critical approval even though some critics confessed to finding some of he science behind it confusing.

However, Dr David Jackson, who printed one of the papers endorsing the film in this month’s American Journal of Physics, said that the film was surprisingly accurate in its depiction of space exploration, as well as its accompanying visuals.

“The physics has been very carefully reviewed by experts and found to be accurate. The publication will encourage physics teachers to show the film in their classes to get across ideas about general relativity.”

News of the endorsement has delighted the film’s director, British filmmaker Nolan, who subsequently told the BBC that the journal’s findings were “very important” to him.

He commented: “Right from the beginning we all really believed it’s time to inspire another generation to really look outwards and to look to the stars again.

“We hoped that by dramatising science and making it something that could be entertaining for kids we might inspire some of the astronauts of tomorrow – that would be the ultimate goal of the project.”

Nolan worked with Kip Thorne, a professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), on the film, while the film’s visual designers at Double Negative also drew on scientific equations for the effects, with particular attention paid to depicting the super massive black hole in the film and the wormhole that transports Cooper’s crew to another solar system.

Indeed, it was their use of a new software that enabled them to calculate the way light rays travel across the warped space around the black hole that raised new questions among the science community and which led to the publication of the reports in the two leading journals.

Referring back to the importance of being accurate when making a film about space travel, director Nolan went on to say that modern audiences wouldn’t be fooled otherwise.

“Consumers have a lot more immediate access to information. If you go and see a film about a particular subject, particularly a true life story, you can go home and look it up on Wikipedia and see if the basic things portrayed in the film are true or not and the same is true of science in the films,” he said.

The director was himself inspired by films such as 2001: A Space Odyssey when making the film and hopes that Interstellar can inspire a new generation in the same way.

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