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Interstellar: a great movie

Well, the actors could have been more emotional but the design is amazing

I just saw Interstellar. Even though there were only 10 people in the cinema room for hundreds, I think it was a great film.

The movie was touching, visually impressive, and boasting a clever plot that depended on time dilation and subtle closed time-like curves. In this blog post, I won't discuss the general relativistic visualization of the black hole and wormhole at all because it was talked about previously and it's a small part of my final impression, anyway.

The blog post below is full of spoilers. Do not continue if you don't want to get spoiled.

At the very beginning, we are shown a family of U.S. farmers who are struggling in very difficult conditions that resemble the Dust Bowl of the 1930s but it's worse.

For a while, I didn't understand why the story is about farmers but let me explain.

In the future, a global conflict apparently turns the Americans into the only surviving nation on the globe. Indians were alive just a few years ago and they would be sending solar-powered spy drones to many corners of the world but they no longer exist.

Moreover, the new Dust Bowl has arrived – worse than the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. That wouldn't be life-threatening, you could think. However, nitrogen levels are going up, oxygen goes down, and something more dramatic has occurred, too. The environmentalists have conquered America, with the goal of morphing it into a depopulated primitive stateless anarchic society.

In a short civil war, the good folks managed to kill Al Gore and 97 other most notorious climate criminals. But Rajendra Pachauri and Paul Ehrlich took their Greenpeace army, stormed the government buildings in Washington D.C., and changed America to a Luddite, environmentally totalitarian regime led by the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). Pachauri became the president and Ehrlich became his vice-president. Under this "leadership", America finds itself unable to deal with very simple challenges such as the dust storms.

It's time for me to present the main characters.

The main important farmer – who is a trained pilot, I tell you in advance – is Cooper (Matthew McConaughey). He has an ordinary son (whose name is not important) and a curious daughter, Murph (official name: Murphy, named after Murphy's laws). Cooper's wife has died but his old father is around.

If you continue to read for a few more paragraphs, you will also learn about Prof Hathaway (in the movie: Professor Brand, probably meant to be Kip Thorne: played by Michael Caine) who has an important daughter, Anne Hathaway (in the film: Amelia Brand). In a different galaxy, we also encounter Dr. Michael Mann (Matt Damon).

But back to the farm.

Cooper the farmer is struggling with the agricultural business and sometimes has a nightmare when he remembers his final flight in which the aircraft failed, for unclear reasons. Cooper manages to catch and tame an Indian solar-powered drone. Daughter Murph is excited when she controls the drone by Cooper's (dad's) laptop.

She sometimes observes "ghosts" near the bookshelves in her bedroom. She defends her observations: poltergeists may exist, after all, science never settles things "completely", she believes. You might think that she is a superstitious, scientifically illiterate girl. But you should give her another chance!

The viewers have a reason to think of her more highly soon afterwards. Cooper is invited to the school to learn how his kids are doing. The son is pretty good (2nd in the class or so) but the school officials inform Cooper that it's not good enough to be a scientist – climate scientist. Almost everyone has to be a plain farmer, the IPCC dictates: the world no longer needs any engineers, they say (see the trailer below). The son is OK with that – he wants to be a farmer, anyway. (Unlike the dad, Cooper himself, who hates the humiliating and uninspiring job that the environmentalist jerks have forced him to adopt.)

The school's report about the daughter, Murph, is more dramatic. Cooper learns from the school officials that:

She's been physically fighting with her classmates because of an old science textbook that she found in Cooper's bookshelves and that has described the Apollo missions, among other things.

The IPCC has replaced these textbooks by new ones that say that the U.S. has never gone to the Moon. It was just a trick to force the Soviets to waste lots of money with the rockets. The message of the new textbook is that engineering and technology doesn't work and never worked. Everyone has to be a sustainable and renewable treehugger.

The new IPCC-sponsored textbooks also describe CO2 as a pollutant and hide that it is an essential gas for all life on Earth.
Murph believes that the Apollo mission was real and the classmates call her a denier for that reason and beat her. Of course, when Cooper learns that his daughter loves the truth as much as he does, he is happy and stops sending Murph to the school.

They investigate the ghosts in her room and it turns out that one may say that they're perhaps some gravitational anomalies (although they look like if they had a human soul, Murph notices). Some signals in the Morse (or binary) code are being sent through these anomalies. They manage to figure out that they are the longitude and latitude of a place N on Earth.

So they drive to N and find something rather stunning. There is some crazy facility with lots of light and energy over there. Cooper and Murph are captured. For a while, they only communicate with seemingly hostile twisting rectangular robots. But after some moment, Anne Hathaway appears there, too. It is becoming clear that the place is actually much more friendly towards Cooper than the IPCC-led totalitarian regime in the U.S.

Do you know what the place N actually is?
It is NASA!
NASA managed to preserve this highly advanced facility even though NASA has officially been disbanded. Why? Vice-President Paul Ehrlich ruled that overpopulation was the cause of the Dust Bowl so he ordered NASA to exterminate 90% of the U.S. population by aerial attacks (which would help him to prove his prediction from the 1960s almost true, too). NASA has refused to do so and was disbanded. However, this unit of NASA was saved in the most secret location on the Earth.

The existence of these refined technocrats in the boring mediocre society reminded me of Ayn Rand's "Atlas Shrugged" – I guess that the mediocre left-wing aßholes will hate this feature for the same reason why I love it. (Update later: confirmed.)

Anne Hathaway brings Cooper and Murph to a nice room with lots of NASA people in suits. One of them is Prof Hathaway, her father, who is designing clever methods to save the mankind. They already know that with the available technologies that are left, the starvation would be getting worse. They have plans to save the humanity.

Well, there are two plans: Plan A and Plan B. Plan A assumes a happy end – the astronauts return home, meet their relatives, and everyone is saved in some way – the mankind is relocated using some formula extracted from the black hole singularity. Plan B assumes that the Earth is sacrificed with everyone who is left over there and some astronauts only start the human civilization at a different place of the Universe. The official plan of NASA is to realize Plan A.

The NASA is surprised that Cooper – a former pilot of NASA – could have found their new location which is the most secret place on Earth. Recall that they got the coordinates by decoding the Morse (or binary) code in the message hiding in the "ghost" gravitational anomalies in Murph's room. How is it possible that the gravitational anomalies send such signals about the new NASA location seems completely mysterious at this point.

It is getting clear that Cooper is the best pilot that NASA has and he will fly in the crew whose goal is to save the humanity – the most important mission ("Endurance" spaceship) in a series (following "Lazarus" flights, referring to resurrection). We learn that NASA has already sent a few other spaceships to a traversable wormhole (this is forbidden by the laws of physics, but OK) whose "domestic throat" lies near Saturn. Through the wormhole, one may get to three potential new habitable planets that were visited by previous astronauts:
  1. Ms Miller
  2. Mr Edmunds
  3. Dr Michael Mann
Cooper has to say good-bye to his family and fly (along with Anne Hathaway) – something greater is at stake. The daughter is emotionally devastated. Things are worse because she's able to decode another message from the gravitational-anomaly "ghosts" that says "STAY" (in the Morse code). So she is doing everything she can to convince her dad to stay home. But he doesn't. She considers him a traitor.

Cooper, Hathaway, and two more astronauts – plus two intelligent robotic friends – fly towards Saturn. It's a two-year flight. At some moment, they get very close to the wormhole. The wormhole is largely meant to be the Einstein-Rosen bridge, a non-traversable wormhole that looks like a black hole from both sides, except that for certain reasons, the wormhole has to be traversable because the communication in both directions is possible to some extent and they may continue their lives on the other side of the wormhole.

They penetrate through the wormhole and think which of the three candidate planets they visit. An important technicality is that near the black hole horizon, the red shift is so intense that one hour in the gravitational field is like 7 years of life on Earth. This is already pretty bad for Cooper. There are rather touching recordings of his family that he manages to see – and he can see how his kids are getting older very quickly.

At the beginning, Anne Hathaway is the more "professional" astronaut while Cooper is biased, ready to put his chance to see his kids again above the success of the mission to save the mankind. They quickly exchange these roles. We learn that Anne Hathaway is in love with one of the three astronauts that were sent to discover the habitable planets, Mr Edmunds. She thinks that her love is a more important message than the cold fact that Edmunds hasn't sent any positive signals for quite some time.

OK, which of the three planets they visit? They first visit the planet of Ms Miller. They find a pretty nice planet with a huge shallow ocean – but giant ocean waves. This is caused by the tidal forces from the nearby black hole horizon which also makes the red shift intense and devours lots of asteroids that were important for Earth to get many elements and organic compounds. Ms Miller died a short time ago. They save their life and escape, decided that this isn't a good planet. One of the two accompanying nameless astronauts dies here.

Then, after dealing with some technicalities about the proper time on the trajectory and the fuel they need (which aren't right, I think, but it makes a rough sense), they visit Dr Michael Mann's planet (they seem to have enough fuel for one more planet only and Cooper decides that Anne Hathaway isn't impartial when she recommends Edmunds' planet). Note that when Dr Gavin Schmidt was hired by Paul Ehrlich to disband NASA, Dr Michael Mann was taken as a hostage by the good "rebel" folks in NASA and he began to cooperate on saving the humanity. You might think that Dr Michael Mann has become a good guy. But don't make premature conclusions.

They visit Dr Mann's planet which is frozen, full of ammonia or methane ice or whatever it was. They wake Mann up and everything looks optimistic. However, after some time, Mann kills the second of the two nameless astronauts whom I didn't mention and tries to kill Cooper, too. We learn that Dr Mann has been sending fake signals about the hospitability of the planet – in order to have a chance that they send a spaceship to his place and he will be saved (after he kills the crew and steals the spaceship)! He has completely hid the decline of the habitability at the places where he recommended the people to live.

In the movie, Dr Michael Mann has remained the same dishonest jerk and f*cked-up hockey-stick aßhole that he has always been. Fortunately, Cooper manages to miraculously save himself, while Dr Michael Mann fortunately kills himself while manipulating with the spaceships unprofessionally.

As you can see, there is one promising planet left, the planet of Mr Edmunds whom Anne Hathaway loves. A spoiler inside this spoiler: that's of course a very good planet where one may live and Anne Hathaway flies there. I say "Anne Hathaway" only because Cooper calculates that the fuel or something (inertia?) is insufficient for both of them, so he disconnects himself from the big spaceship, allowing Anne Hathaway to ultimately land on Edmunds' planet (he's dead by now). At the end, we learn that "her love instinct" was just right: her darling's planet was the right one even though Edmunds is dead.

Meanwhile, the disconnected Cooper is expected to die. But instead, after some unpleasant vibrations and trips through wormholes, he lands in some bizarre tesseract, a set of parallel copies of the 3D universe that are rotating into each other in a way that supersedes the Lorentz transformation. He is (and you are) able to recognize that the place looks like the bookshelf of his daughter in his house back in the States! Equipped with one more dimension in his perception, he is able to see the spacetime region around Murph's whole life as if the time coordinate were spatial, too.

The daughter who is as old as he is – according to some coordinate system – learns from the dying Prof Hathaway that he has always known that the Plan A was impossible. Planet Earth was always doomed and the old professor was always thinking about Plan B only – starting the new planet and sacrificing Earth. She is even more angry because she is afraid that her dad Cooper knew about that and he left her (and everyone else) to suffocate on Earth!

Aware of his new "higher-dimensional" location and of the fact that he was scheduled to sacrifice the Earth, he tries to prevent his own departure. So from the tesseract, Cooper is sending Morse code signals saying "STAY" to his daughter. She has always known that these messages sounded very "human" and that's why she called the phenomenon a "ghost" – the reason wasn't her fear! – and this punch line seemed extremely clever to me. It was a very gentle logical reconciliation of the closed time-like curve.

So all the gravitational anomalies and signals were sent by Cooper himself. He was the ghost! In the tesseract, he can treat time as if it were a spatial direction (not sure what they do with the wrong signature). So we're shown all the stories about the "ghosts sending signals via gravitational anomalies" from the other side – from Cooper's side. Pretty cool. ;-) The coordinates of the NASA facility were sent by the "ghost" Cooper, too. And by the way, the failure of his last "pre-farming" flight was caused by the gravitational anomaly, too.

Whether the "tesseract" is natural or was built by humans or some higher-dimensional ETs remained ambiguous, unless I missed something.

Finally, Cooper also sends some sophisticated data from the black hole singularity to an older Murph, data that were collected by the friendly robot TARS in its final mission. (If you want to know how, he uses the Morse code controlling the second hand of her watch that he gave her before he departed. Well, they had two identical watches and wanted to use them to measure time dilation – the twin paradox etc. – after he returns. But the same device may be used to send Morse code messages, too.) Murph is capable of completing the equation to mass transfer the mankind – something that her ex-boss in NASA Prof Hathaway has been working on for his whole life. (This mass transfer of the mankind is very similar to the 1984 Czechoslovak sci-fi sitcom, The Visitors, where it was discovered by 10-year-old boy Adam Bernau.)

I don't know what exactly happened to Cooper but he probably reached the edge of the tesseract in some way, and was woken up in a fancy modern hospital. He quickly learns that he's not on Earth. He's on the Cooper station orbiting Saturn, or something like that: they found him in a spaceship soon enough for him to survive. This new big Saturn-orbit-based civilization proves that the Plan A to move the mankind actually did work at the end. He thanks them that they named the station after him. They laugh, of course: the station was named after his daughter (who has, by the way, presented her dad as an enthusastic farmer – a complete lie – to help her own career, I guess).

They take him to a replica of his house and to a hospital where his daughter Murph, about 95 years old, is just dying with her family (he is just a few years older than when he departed). So his promise that he would return to his daughter was technically true! Parents shouldn't watch their kids dying, Murph tells her father who is about 60 years younger by now, and she recommends him to go where he belongs. He is going to chase Anne Hathaway who is just getting ready for hibernation on Edmunds' planet. I really hope he will have had found her but we don't learn about the outcome.

I have surely omitted many important things.

In the U.S. version of the movie, many parts of the plot above – including the details of the civil war and the IPCC totalitarian regime – have been censored and the movie was cut from 196 to 169 minutes. So you are invited to see your movie theater and compare the version above with the version that is allowed to be shown in your country.

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reader Cesar Lima said...

Spoiler alert:

Lubos, you have a spoiler before your spoiler alert: the use o time dilation is no surprise, but closed time-like curves is a real shocker. Mayber you should omit it in the oppening

Kind regards

reader Luboš Motl said...

Hi Cesar, thanks but I disagree. In similar science-fiction movies, time travel of this kind is common. Interstellar doesn't avoid it which of course makes it "substantially" less realistic, but the traversable wormholes are almost certainly forbidden, too.

reader Tony said...

No way. There is no censorship in the U.S. We just want to protect the babies and the pets from gruesome ideas.

reader Uncle Al said...

I admire Pol Pot for removing the Evil IQ from Cambodia. Napolean removed tall muscular Frenchmen through Russia. Hitler emptied Europe of cripples, mentally ill, Gypsies, homosexuals, and sub-median Jews. Vlad Tepes barred Turkish Muslims from physically and genetically sacking Europe (re Greece). History teaches us in every case that acting is not enough. We must sustain.

True agrarian socialism has not been tried hard enough, long enough, wide enough, or with sufficient budget. Given another millennium or so, Christ would have returned to illuminate the Dark Ages.

"the version that is allowed to be shown in your country" Homeland Severity sees every sparrow fall, every grass blade grow, and every citizen who might be carrying a Swiss army knife.. They just aren't much good at pursing anything that shoots back.

reader RosaryCatholic said...

4 minute video: Proof: DNA Refutes Evolution -

UFOs: Demonic Activity and Elaborate Hoaxes meant to Deceive Mankind -

For critical information on the faith of Christ and how Rome has lost the Catholic faith please go to:

reader Cesar Lima said...

Thanks for the reply Lubo.

I haven't seem the movie yet, and was a little surprised that it involves some time travel, although this may be naive of my part.

I'm surely wasn't trying to denigrate the movie in any way, I think science purist should know better that at the end of the day it is just a movie, not a documentary.

In any case I'll refrain from reading the entirety of your post until I see the movie, but it encourages me that you think it was overall nicely done, with due concessions.

All the best,

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Tony, I don't quite follow whether your comment is serious or not and what you want to express with that.

This blog post was about a *fiction* blockbuster movie.

Otherwise your "protection thesis" is the most typical would-be justification of censorship. In some cases, it may even have some legitimacy, in many others, it doesn't.

reader Smoking Frog said...

Are you pulling our legs, Lubos? I've read three articles about Interstellar and haven't seen anything about the IPCC or Michael Mann.

reader Luboš Motl said...

You must have read very superficial reviews then, Smoking Frog.

Dr Mann is the only astronaut that gets to the candidate planets and whom we actually see. As you might expect, he is an egotist liar and a murderer at the end - even though he pretends to be a friend at the beginning.

The environmentalist regime fights against "overpopulation" - they wanted NASA to aerially exterminate most of the population - and against engineers and other aspects of advanced civilization, and it rewrites the history to make kids believe that the engineering has never achieved any successes and one should only live simple agrarian lives.

Go to the movie if you don't believe me.

reader Smoking Frog said...

Lubos, I have a question about time travel (into the past). I say it would require changing the universe back to the way it was at the past day in question, and therefore time travel is impossible. Is there anything wrong with this?

reader Luboš Motl said...

No, I completely agree with you.

I think it's very unlikely- but not "rigorously" excluded - that there are some very subtle loopholes and some closed world lines that manage to "agree with the past" are allowed. In the movie, one would also communicate with the past using some gravitational anomalies.

Of course, it doesn't matter much that they're gravitational - they should still be banned. But maybe with the knowledge of some code and preparation, some "wormhole between two different moments" could materialize in some sense. I do think that these are excluded for exactly the reason you wrote but there may be something that transcends our simple arguments although it's unlikely.

reader Smoking Frog said...

That's amazing. I have a lot of trouble believing that the writers would leave it out. My wife and I were already planning to see it next week, so maybe I'll resolve the question. That's a "maybe" because I have a severe hearing loss and my wife's accounts of things are often wrong. I'll try my best, though.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Concerning hearing, Frog, did you see that Anthony Watts just saw his hearing to return? Look at this blog if you haven't seen that... Couldnt it help to you, too?

reader Smoking Frog said...

Ah, so philosophy is (somewhat) vindicated! Thanks.

reader Smoking Frog said...

Yes, I read his blog post last night. But it wouldn't be soon enough to resolve the Interstellar question. :-)

I once knew a young woman who was completely deaf. She told me that she didn't see how normal people could put up with the "interference" of being able to hear.

Here's something surprising which a profoundly deaf man once told me: Most people who have been deaf since birth only have 3rd- or 4th-grade literacy. That's because not having heard words is a huge obstacle to learning to read.

reader PierreHyp said...

I saw the movie in France without any censorship hopefully !!
this is a great movie with intensity , Thinking , science and Hope
Any idea to put censor is a proof of unreal mind protection .
today people have access to information thru phone and social network and a lot of other sources .
in Europe Inquisition tried to jail people mind during a long time and they failed !!
All this guy trying to drive me how to think are good for lost in the tesseract

This movie is good for science fiction and for SCIENCE and for hope

I follow this blog and it is an island of hope for science and open mind

reader Tony said...

I was sarcastic. People usually don't take babies and pets to see the movie like that :) . I hear that phrase about protecting the babies way too often, so I added pets. You know, little kitten and doggies, just to stress the imbecility of censorship in this case.

reader Gordon said...

Kip Thorne was the scientific advisor, as you is a rather technical review article of his of CTCs (1993)-
The appropriately named Richard Gott used CTC in the first Planck time for his "universe creates itself" scenarios.

reader Tony said...

On a more serious note, the reason for the censorship is most likely to make movie more digestible to wider audiences. Namely:

a) we don't have the same capacity to concentrate for longer periods of time as you in Europe.

b) Too much politics in the movie and you may alienate some moviegoers. Then they will not recommend the movie to others of the like political correctness.

reader Shannon said...

American movies and their gooey sentimentality. The trailer puts me off. According to what Lubos writes there might be only a few minutes of interesting science and the rest is all snivelling, snot included.

reader MikeNov said...

Walter Mondale barely won in 1984, and then lost the state in 2002 when he ran for Senate as the replacement for Paul Wellstone who died with a month left in the campaign.

reader Giulio said...

It seems that the "others", the ones who created the wormhole near Saturn, are humans as well. Cooper says this to TARS: "have you not understood yet? "They" are humans, they are doing for me what I just did for Murph" (I saw the italian version of the movie so my translation is not literal).
It hints that one day, as humans will be used to wormholes and 4-dimensional awesome stuff, they will understand a new dimension of awesomeness and use it to help Cooper save the world through the 4-dimensional awesomeness.
It may be scientifically inaccurate but it is rather touching, it expresses the never-ending will of mankind to explore: one day brave men sailed past the Pillars of Hercules, one day we went to the moon, one day we will go through a wormhole and one day we will dare exploring something we can't even imagine now.

Because of this I think that, notwithstanding the numerous scientific errors, Interstellar is one of the best movie about science ever made.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks, it was probably there, but my memory wasn't good enough. Did you already watch the Italian dubbed version? That is pretty fast. I saw English with Czech subtitles.

reader Giulio said...

Yes it was italian dubbed.

reader John McVirgo said...

I guess the film is supposed to entertain the general public, and not meant to be taken too seriously.

[Spoiler Alert]

Personally, I found it stretching the bounds of my imagination to accept the idea of humans of the future in five dimensions constructing a space for a father to view his daughter's past from. There he manages to transmit the theoretical code required by his brilliant daughter as Morse code to the second hand of an analogue wrist watch via gravity from the mother ship, thereby affecting the past!

reader Luboš Motl said...

It's stretching bounds of imagination, looks subtle, but is ultimately probably as inconsistent as any time-machine-based plot in sci-fi one knows. And it wasn't a part of Kip Thorne's original plot.

But I guess something like that is needed for a catchy movie.

reader David Nataf said...

Thank you for your great review !

reader sanjuro said...

You are fucking nuts!

reader Fernando J. Cordeiro said...

There is one thing that`s unclear to me: if Cooper needs the coordinates to find the Nasa facility and then go to the space (and to tesseract), how Cooper could send these coordinates?

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Fernardo, that's a good question and one that plagues all plots with some sort of time travel..

Time travel is mostly impossible but the movies achieve some "semi-consistency" in this point, and so did Interstellar. The plot is never "quite" consistent.

At the beginning, the coordinates were sent by a gravitational anomaly, which was really a different copy of Cooper behind the bookcase. So this other Cooper behind the bookcase "may" explain why the normal Cooper farmer with his daughter were able to get the right coordinates.

On the other hand, this "other" Cooper behind the book case is old and already knew the coordinates because he's visited the place.

Of course, there is still the inconsistency that before Cooper's adventures, the "sum of all Coopers" knows nothing about the coordinates and "suddenly" they learn it in a strange way. This is almost certainly impossible in Nature, like all closed time-like curves.

But at the level of "getting one answer for one each question how or why", it works. We now where the farmer learned it from, and we know where the Cooper behind the bookcare learned it from.

reader Orson OLSON said...


reader Fernando J. Cordeiro said...

Thank you for your reply. I was thinking in something different: here, in our 3D world, time is just a line that goes in just one direction, the future. Inside that Tesseract, Cooper has the time and space in front of his face, like paints on the wall. He could start the event that makes possible his travel (the coordinates) in backwards.

reader Atul said...

Watch Full Movie online Here on Vodlocker

reader JHD said...

Can you provide any supporting evidence for there being multiple versions of the movie and for this part of your summary: "In a short civil war, the good folks managed to kill Al Gore and 97 other most notorious climate criminals. But Rajendra Pachauri and Paul Ehrlich took their Greenpeace army, stormed the government buildings in Washington D.C., and changed America to a Luddite, environmentally totalitarian regime led by the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). Pachauri became the president and Ehrlich became his vice-president."?

IMDb lists the movie time as 169 minutes only. I think you are embroidering the plot to push your own political agenda.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Maybe, but my 196-minute-long version is superior while your shortened movie is the less rich one.

reader JHD said...

My question is whether the 196-minute version exists in real life, or if you made up the "censored" parts as what you would like to have been in the movie.

reader Luboš Motl said...

If the full movie has been shot, I am not aware of it.

reader Bob said...

"The orbits around a black hole with a nearly infinite redshift actually don't exist!"

They can evade this by invoking a rapidly spinning black hole. To get the huge redshift in the movie requires something like a=0.999999999, way beyond what can probably form naturally (the practical limit is probably a~0.998), but not impossible. (Recall that at a=1, the innermost stable circular orbit is at r/M=1.)

Near-extremal black holes have odd-looking shadows and the lensing effects become extreme, so they used an a=0.6 black hole for the visualizations, because they found the images would be more comprehensible.

All this and more is in Kip's book "The Science Behind Interstellar," which I highly recommend.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Yes, thanks; I appreciated this Kerr thing in the second blog post about Interstellar.

reader papertiger0 said...

Here's the thing though.
Every one of the Bosses suppositions fit in seamlessly with the movie as I saw it.

He has given voice, names and details, to inferred aspects of the movie, which well might have ended up on the cutting room floor.

I bet Mike Mann was pleased to hear he would be portrayed by Matt Damon in a Scifi feature.
Then watching the movie, wiped the smile off his face.

reader John Archer said...

Mark Steyn, Mickey Mann's nemesis to be (I fervently hope), gives his take on Interstellar.

reader Shannon said...

I went to see Interstellar the other night. Another US movie... Annoying it was. I still wonder: 1)how did they manage to drive the car in the corn field with a flat tyre? 2)why does the father Cooper prefers his daughter to his son (he doesn't give a toss about potatoe Tom) 3)it is all about the daughter, Murph here Murph there, ain't it? 4)How does the father manage to type on his laptop computer while his son is driving madly through the corn field to catch a drone? 5)How does the father manage to pirate the drone, leaves it with 10 year old daughter who manages to land the drone for the first time 6)It has become more urgent to eat than to go to space... no way?? 7)Little Murphy is a rebel? Well done daughter, keep fighting!.. you make daddy proud 8)Why do they drive back to their farm in the sand storm, couldn't they just wait until it passed? Average IQ in the car was 65? 9)Is Cooper afraid the ghost will reveal his porn books on the shelf? 10)Why doesn't Cooper kick (annoying) Murphy out of his car and tell her to go f... home 11)Later he goes and console daughter who cries and makes a crisis because she wants daddy to stay, then he leaves.. His son Tom only gets a slap on the back, bye son. Tom must have been a whisky accident... etc etc etc.... Pff just go and see for yourself.. Oh and to finish have you seen the planets the previous guys have landed on? Man for God sake it is frozen turd! And Tom has named his son Cooper so the grand-child's name is Cooper Cooper?
Awoh I don't think so.
So in some ways an intelligent civilisation has created a way to go in your own past without changing it ! Cool. No really.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Shannon, my answers are not official but you did provoke me to answer! ;-)

1) You can drive on flat tires. Girls can do it (0:23) but you must be careful that the car may be set on fire, see:

2) I would prefer the daughter because she's curious, science-oriented, smart, emotional, and brave while the son is a lame unambitious coward. If you complain about the bias, well, the daughter was originally male in the movie but was changed - I have no problems with that.

3) Yes, Murph is a key character, and the new colony at the end is named after her, too.

4) Skillful laptop user, I can probably do so too,with some trick to grab the laptop so that it doesn't move relatively to the body.

5) She's smart but the drones are user-friendly, anyway.

6) Yes, these are the priorities by the new Luddite "elite".

7) Yes, she is surely a rebel and maker her father proud, that's really a key point of the movie.

8) It's safer to be in a house, and quick.

9) No.

10) Because he loves her, and rightfully so.

Much of your anger is directed against Murph - I have no idea why you hate her!

reader Shannon said...

Hey I'm not angry. I'm laughing at all this.

reader Andrew Kidd said...

VERY LATE add to the discussion, but I was wondering, Lubos, if the movie reminded you of the outstanding Czech science fiction film IKARIE XB-1 (released in a butchered form in North America as VOYAGE TO THE END OF THE UNIVERSE). Yes, it has some socialist propaganda in it, but it is still a great space drama!

reader Luboš Motl said...

I must watch it sometimes! The U.S. version is here:

A year ago, I would watch another old Czechoslovak-Yugoslav sci-fi I had never known about, probably because Czech TVs considered it pulp. But if you give me this recommendation...

reader lonchaney said...

I don't think he sends the NASA Coordinates to himself in the beginning. I think the 5d people did. At the end he sends STAY, and then he realizes he can't change time because the robot tells him that, so he sends the coordinates so time doesn't change. I think that is why you would think he sent them in the beginning, but it was the evolved people who send them. They were going to evolve even if he didn't take the mission. Murphy's Law.

reader David Latchman said...

The waves on Miller's planet are actually tidal bulges caused by Gargantua. We experience tidal bulges here on Earth as well.