Sunday, October 26, 2014

Interstellar: the best visualization of black hole's environment

I wrote about the Interstellar (2014) movie and Kip Thorne's role as a star in the movie more than a year ago.

But the premiere of Christopher Nolan's film is rapidly approaching now. Next Wednesday, London will see the world premiere and it will be followed by the U.S. premiere exactly one week later.

A black hole – and probably a wormhole – will play a very important role in the movie. The visualization of the black hole environment, including the accretion disks and gravitational lensing, won't be just some Hollywood license that "looks" sciency. Instead, it will be based on an accurate calculation rooted in Einstein's general relativity. In fact, it should be the most accurate depiction of a black hole ever.

See the video above for some details.

General relativist Kip Thorne himself has been a "boss" in a team of computer animators who was making sure that they do the things "right". When they were working on the details, they found some things that are good enough to be published in expert articles on astrophysics as well as computer animation.

Even though black holes – and perhaps artificially created large black holes? – are some of the most ambitious, seemingly unrealistic objects that may play a role in Hollywood movies, the visualization of this concept is actually going to be vastly more accurate than the visualization of lots of other, seemingly "more mundane" things that we often see in science-fiction movies.

And that's a combination that only theoretical physics may offer. It may study things that are vastly grander or tinier and much more far-reaching than the objects of interest of other disciplines; but it may describe those things at a much better accuracy.

Off-topic: a new Frank Wilczek Kung Pao Quantum Center was opened. At the same moment, Czech president Miloš Zeman is visiting China, too. He loved the speedy trains over there, told them that the air stinks (literally), invited Bank of China to Czechia, promoted the cancellation of the EU visas for the Chinese, and was especially solving the most important issue in the contemporary world, namely the new episodes of the Czech Little Mole. It belongs among the Chinese kids' most favorite characters. Krteček, as we call the Little Mole, will be supplemented with a new multicultural friend, a panda, and the Chinese will shoot new episodes including episodes in 3D.


  1. Dear Lubos,

    I have zapped through the articles that came up from a search for black hole from your blog. What I was interested in is to see if there is any material about what is inside of a black hole and the corresponding similarity with what is inside of a particle if they are black holes ala Ashok. Do you conjectures using classical or string regarding these questions.

  2. Hm... Will they include the firewalls as a dramatic possibility that will be proven wrong by the protagonists?=P

  3. Stunning images alright.

  4. There are about 50 TRF blog entries about the black hole interior.

    What do you think is "inside elementary particles"?

  5. Different distinct segments of a vibrating string loop, parts of it at nodes about which other parts sway in motion.

  6. lolz, go read all my emails on the internet hehe, now moving on to physics.

  7. Climate sensitivity may also increase the awareness. May commarcial greenhouse effect to increase global warming?

  8. Thanks Lubos. Yes my question was vague I was in a hurry. Actually I just wanted to use it as a warmer for a question about D0-brane Matrix theory which I think is definitely the way to go, but I could not articulate it well. I was going through an old thread on Phillip Gibbs blog, where you and him have an exchange , and Phil suggest your Matrix to have a different variable, so I was thinking of how that can be done. I hope I can have a sharper question in the next few days. Thanks again.

  9. I presume you mean what is "inside" a particle. That sound interesting, do you have any reference?

  10. OT (totally, for a pleasant change):

    On being prepared to be appropriately ... well ... appropriate

    We're approaching that joyous time of year again when most of us hail each other heartily with the greetings of the season.

    However, do be prepared for the odd aggressive personage accosting you with that awful, highly intrusive, toxic, peecee newspeak, "Happy Holiday".

    Whether you are a churchgoer or not, the correct form when being so rudely assaulted is amply covered by the following measured response (please select the appropriate option):

    "Fcuk you and your diversity — it's Advent, you hideous, alien cnut | race traitor!"

    Then punch their lights out.

    Merry Christmas everybody. :)

  11. Sorry, I'm not going to see any movie based on the premise that interstellar travel needs to be achieved to save mankind from an "environmentally ravaged" Earth. I get enough global warming in my daily diet.

  12. OT — i.e. On Topic, disappointingly.

    Best visualisation of a black hole's environment? Tsk!

    There's absolutely no need to strain your imagination or indeed for anything like high-tech visualisations — you can take a look for yourself.

    In fact, you're spoilt for choice. Just visit any of these: Bradford, Leicester, Slough, Luton, Southall....

    I understand many countries on the continent now have these 'particle zoos' too.

    I think you'll find one visit is more than enough to satisfy your curiosity.

  13. Richard,

    Now let's not be so hasty!

    It's possible to enjoy this curate's egg of a film simply by avoiding putting your 'fork' in the putrid greentard bits and instead savouring only the 'excellent parts'.

    I find this is true of almost all films today. The important thing though is to make sure that you don't put any money in the producers' coffers to pay for the pleasure. I certainly don't.

    So, be sure to view a pirate copy. And don't pay for that either — one shouldn't encourage criminals.

    Where there's a will .... :)

  14. That's how they get you to swallow the poison, by making it taste really good.

  15. That is so cool. Visualization always helps things out!