Physicist Kip Thorne gained a certain amount of notoriety this year for being the man behind the science of Christopher Nolan’s space epic ‘Interstellar,’ and has been fielding questions about the validity of the science involved in the film since its release in November. Fortunately the experience has given him the opportunity to publish a book titled ‘The Science of ‘Interstellar’ wherein he delves into the scientific realities and almost truths seen in the film.
In the excerpt released online (which you can read here), Thorne dives into the science of the massive black-hole Gargantua which plays a huge role in the film, explaining how big the singularity pictured was, and the demands Nolan made of the anomaly for story purposes. It seems the biggest stretch of scientific fact was the idea that one hour on the watery planet the astronauts visit first equals 7 years of earth time, an idea that Thorne struggled to make work once Nolan asked it of him. It seems that kind of relative time is almost a scientific impossibility, though Thorne managed to make it work by claiming that Gargantua’s spin was just shy of the maximum a black-hole of its size is capable of handing, which would just barely allow the relative time idea to work, as well as allow the planet to remain intact without getting entirely sucked into the black hole itself.
It’s a lot of dense ideas, but since Thorne uses the film and the concepts within as his examples, it makes a lot of the science a lot more palatable to the average reader. From what I read in the excerpt, there are a lot of amazing ideas and concepts that went into the science surrounding the movie, and to see Thorne work out the logistics and demand that everything be as close to true science as possible is very interesting. A definite read for anyone interested in science, ‘Interstellar,’ or the cosmos themselves.