Sunday, November 09, 2014

What drives some negative reviewers of "Interstellar"

At the beginning, the Interstellar movie I would see on Thursday was getting almost entirely positive reactions. Even today, most of the professional reviewers rated it with 73%. But if you search for the reviews at generic websites, you will notice that the most typical rating of self-anointed critics is actually 2 stars. Where does the gap come from?

Well, the gap has – and the negative reviews have – numerous reasons but some of the most obvious ones are not being discussed. Many of the negative reviewers are lazy, intellectually limited, anti-science spoiled brats; and many others are pro-green, left-wing, anti-technology Luddites. There are probably many who fall into both categories.

But let me begin with some "potentially valid" criticisms.

It's a science-fiction movie that was ultimately designed by a filmmaker, not a scientist. So many things are scientifically impossible – according to what we seem to know. The "de facto" closed time-like curves are impossible. Wormholes probably can't be traversable if they exist at all. Periodic orbits around a black hole with a huge red shift don't exist. (This huge red shift is impossible for non-rotating black holes; for almost extremely rotating black holes, however, the high-redshift orbits may exist.) The frozen clouds of an atmospheric size couldn't be supported by the material. And it's likely that the dusty, hyper-nitrogenic Earth would still be much more hospitable than those big-ocean, frozen-ice, wrong-chemistry planets out there. And so on. Of course that I could enumerate dozens of these problems as well. Some of them would need some calculations to be justified.

But it's a fiction movie. What I find important is that most of these bizarre things are needed to make the plot more impressive. In that sense, I do believe that it differs from many science-fiction movies where the physical mistakes and stupidity are incorporated for no good reason. In Nolan's movie, the things that go beyond what physics allows mostly seem to have a reason. For example, up to a point, I thought that there would be no closed time-like curves in the movie. But when it showed up for the first time, I was thinking: Wow, it's a clever explanation of the previously mysterious points.

So don't overreact. Of course that the scientific fidelity in a Hollywood movie shouldn't be as perfect as the correctness of a physics paper.

Some reviews say that the characters didn't communicate sufficient emotions. I slightly agree with that but I don't think there's too much too say here.

Other reviews say that the sound mixing was weak and one couldn't understand many dialogues. I tend to agree but fortunately, I had Czech subtitles – which I would often need even if the sound were perfect. At the end, this is a technicality that isn't terribly deep or interesting. There isn't much interesting to say about this potential bug.

But let's look at some of the more nontrivial or "ideological" criticisms.
Seth Shostak of SETI: Interstellar – a galaxy too far?
is a review by a famous guy who searches for extraterrestrials. The criticism is kind of ironic because the work that Shostak is seriously paid for is perhaps less likely than many parts of the movie plot – even though Shostak doesn't admit he is doing "arts" and not "science".

His main criticism is that it's wrong for the people to look for a new home in a "different galaxy". "Interplanetary" would be better as the title and length scale for the plot. But Shostak must have completely misunderstood the geometry of the spacetime in the movie. There is a wormhole whose throat is located close to Saturn. And the distances to the planets on the other side of the wormhole are probably not too much larger. So the proper distance to these other planets is comparable to the distance between planets of the Solar System! That's why state-of-the-art rockets are enough to get there within years.

The wormhole, and especially its traversability and asymmetry etc., is problematic and probably impossible. But if one embraces this object, the choice of the targets makes a lot of sense. OK, this Shostak's criticism may have been another technicality.

Some other reviewers criticized the movie for omitting the training and preparation for the flight. Cooper said "good-bye" to his daughter. Their relationship was broken. And in the very next second, we could hear the countdown before the launch. I actually think that the scenes overlapped! I think that it was great that the obvious scenes with some training were (completely) omitted. And if it were up to me, I would shorten some of the initial "purely agricultural" scenes, too.

What about some of the critics whom I really find offensive? ;-)

Stephan Dalton of the Hollywood Reporter wrote
Critic's Notebook: The Case Against 'Interstellar'
This jerk says that the movie confuses greatness and bigness and offers "anti-science mysticism". But you pretty soon get to the first critic's paragraph that actually explained why his review was so negative:
Interstellar immerses us in a dystopian near-future America where crops are systematically failing and Dust Bowl desperation returning. While mankind faces slow starvation, Big Government takes our taxes and teaches our kids that the Apollo moon landings were faked. Boo! Hiss! Thanks for nothing, Obama! Fortunately, NASA has gone underground as a noble brotherhood of aloof technocrats who dare to make Big Plans for the future in their remote secret bunker. Only they can save humanity with their heroic individualism and rugged pioneer spirit..... wait, does any of this sound familiar? Has Nolan been reading Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged?
Oh, it must be a crime to read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, right? Maybe Nolan himself should be downgraded to a crop farmer, too! ;-) Needless to say, this Atlas-Shrugged-like philosophy is one of the things that makes this movie great, deep, and profoundly true. Many other movies, like the Avatar, offer us the kitschy idea that the people who live inside Nature, just like other animals, are the morally flawless ones while the people connected with the technological world are evil and threaten the life of everyone else.

Interstellar has a different take. It's the people who want to restrict the human ambitions as explorers, pioneers, discoverers, and industrialists who are threatening the life on Earth. Dalton even reproduced this exact quote from the movie:
We used to look up in the sky and wonder about our place in the stars. Now we just look down and wonder about our place in the dirt.
It's a great quote that poetically represents what may await us if we don't defeat the environmentalism and related forms of the social deterioration of the modern society. If people's freedom – and curiosity – which involves their desire to explore, burn lots of fuel, and do lots of other things that are necessary – will be crippled or criminalized, of course that on one sunny or dusty day, new textbooks will be published that will deny that people have ever been to the Moon. Of course that people will have to be obsessed with every hectare of maize. Of course that they will start to lose all the battles again.

In Interstellar, there are the hopeless ordinary people who have largely abandoned technology, engineering, progress, and audacity itself and such people are destined to die away within a generation. (And I think it was just OK for Murph to put her brother's crops on fire, in an effort to wake him up.) And there are a few noble, smart, ambitious people – the underground organization known as NASA – who actually know what is probably going to happen and who are creatively working hard to bring us a better future.

But of course that the most prevailing source of negative attitudes towards the movie is people's anti-science sentiment. They don't want to think. They don't want to learn. They are not curious and they are proud about their being cripples in this sense. A Deborah Paulson quotes another critic:
David Denby, movie reviewer for The New Yorker, for example, says that Interstellar is “ardently, even fervently incomprehensible, a movie designed to separate the civilians from the geeks, with the geeks apparently the target audience.” He continues, “There’s no doubting Nolan’s craft…but, overall, ‘Interstellar’—a spectacular, redundant puzzle, a hundred and sixty-seven minutes long—makes you feel virtuous for having sat through it rather than happy that you saw it.”
First, you notice that the geeks do not belong among the "civilians". And make no doubt about it: for Denby, the geeks are just like an aggressive military that is threatening him. He also makes it very clear that he never feels happy for being virtuous.

There are much more violent reviews complaining that it's almost like sitting on a three-hour physics lecture – but I can no longer find this particular one. Is there anything wrong about sitting on a three-hour physics lecture? I don't think so, morons!

Henry Fitzherbert calls the movie a "narrative black hole" and tells you that you need a physics PhD to understand that. Well, you may want to get a physics PhD for tons of other reasons. ;-) But I would like to mention that even Christopher Nolan fails to have a physics PhD and he was able not only to watch the movie – but to create it! So it can't be that bad, can it? With a physics PhD, you may figure out dozens of things that are plausible and dozens of things that are not. But you don't need the degree to enjoy the movie.

It seems self-evident that for many people, the movie simply is too difficult. But if that's true, their relationship to the movie depends not only on the movie itself but on themselves, too. What I find unacceptable is when some people try to sell their attitude – derived from low intelligence, weak curiosity, and lousy education – as the objective truth about the movie only. This arrogant attitude of these low-IQ critics is completely analogous to the despicable behavior of the environmentalist officials and schoolmasters in Interstellar who forced the engineers to work as an underground organization.

Idiots who can't resist boasting about your intellectual limitations: you are dangerous and you must be treated as a threat unless we want to spend our future by wondering about our place in the dirt.

And that's the memo.


  1. Tea for 330 millionNov 9, 2014, 1:34:00 PM

    I wonder why the very title "Interstellar" didn't clue them in that some suspension of disbelief was going to be needed to enjoy it?

    I love good old right-wing science fiction, Heinlein style. Can't wait to watch it.

  2. I very much look forward to seeing the movie, but I fear, like most "movies" these days, it will have to be with subtitles. I suffer as an older person, but it looks to me like people are not "communicating" in clear speech these days. Mumbling seems to be the order of the day. Back to the days of Jane Austen/Patrick O'Brian! ....I loved your interpretation of the movie!! "Mann" as in "Mann" and not "man!"

  3. Excellent review, I love how you compare the idiotic teachers in Interstellar to a lot of the reviewers. As a Sci-Fi (emphasis on the 'Fi' ) movie/book buff I really enjoyed this film. I hope we get more like it. Maybe there is yet hope for a proper adaptation of my favorite Sci-Fi book, The Foundation.

    Lubos - I took my kids (both teenage boys) to see it yesterday. I liked it and so did my kids but the whole Plan A storyline about the equation that would save mankind was so ridiculous that it was a disappointment. Nolan could have thought of some simpler and more credible plan A - e.g. they need to know at what speed to enter the wormhole or something like that and so needed a better calibration. I also think the film was too long and the first section with the drone and stuff seemed irrelevant.

  5. Fred, is there a lot of emotions between the daddy and the daughter in the movie, like making you sniff ? (like: daddy will be back... in a few decades). I always find these sequences tedious in movies.

  6. I haven't seen the movie, but it likely would be a blast in IMAX (a Canadian company :)). You are undoubtedly correct that a segment of the critics are reacting with horror because it doesn't follow the usual PC liturgy and has a Nietzschean
    flavor (perhaps an echo of Stanley Kramer's 2001 Thus Spake Zarathustra soundtrack). Nietzsche is the anti-Christ for the "Everyone is equal--some pigs are more equal than others"
    crowd. Folks---it is a sci-fi movie. Kip Thorne was the science advisor (His Black Holes and Time Warps at times seems like sci-fi---good sci-fi though.)
    The other critics seem to be various science journalists etc who may have Phds in a physics field who seem to want the science to be accepted mainstream stuff...well, make a documentary then, or upload a course to EdX or Coursera if you can...
    These are the types who would jump all over you for commiting a minor solecism.
    I really detest Ayn Rand's writings, but Nietzsche was a brilliant writer with interesting ideas. The current stream of egalitarian pap just promotes mediocrity.

  7. A bit but not too much. The more emotional part comes later when they spend too long in the vicinity of a strong gravitational field. And it is a bit cheesy at the end but not excessively for a US movie.

  8. Some of the criticisms of the movie indicate that the dialogue is difficult to understand simply because the soundtrack is way too loud.

  9. Thanks, John. And Henry - I confirm that, the soundtrack seemed to loud for me, too. I sometimes plugged my ears because there was so much noise in the movie theater - but as far as I remember, it was mostly at moments when nobody was speaking.

  10. Disappointing but thanks for the info, Fred.

  11. Dear Lubos,
    This is somewhat off topic, Michio Kaku will be the key note speaker in the largest Oil and Gas conference in UAE. I could not make it to the conference, but it would be interesting to see his view about the future.

  12. You didn't mention how BORING the movie is. I love movies in general; never gave negative feedback to one, as I think all views and opinions should be respected and valued; though, this movie was about nothing other than a desperate effort to repeat the success of Inception, with such limited attractions in a long 2:49 hours of story line.

  13. i have stop reading your article at `But it's a fiction movie.` seems, you don't understand what are Sci-Fi movies )) in any case, until this no-sense phrase you are right - movie is crap ))

    by my side score is 1/10

    so, why 1/10 ... because this one is not Sci-Fi !!! Plot have huge amount of 'black holes' )) This movie is OUT of physics and is NOT even close to Einstein theories. It's fantasy for kids. Funny part about time travel & x5 dimensions is bullshit: - even u can travel in time mentioned with some stupid way using gravity as x5 dimension to change future (holly crap) - U SHOULD REPEATED IT EVERY NANO SECONDS to KEEP expected future not change back - BUT, butterfly effect DOES NOT exists - YOU CAN TRAVEL IN PAST, BUT ONLY FROM TRAVELER POINT OF VIEW. and yes changed it and create NEW ALT FUTURE )) - so, about 5x dimensions - its true and it are X,Y,Z, time and mass (not gravity) gravity is force - not dimension, the same as 3 more, MAGNETISM and Electromagnetic, The Strong Force & Weak Force ))

  14. Ah, you must mean states psi1 &. psi2 are not represented by functions. In this case what kind of mathematical objects are they?

  15. Dear Peter, first of all, in quantum field theory, state vectors may have at most be represented by functionals, not functions. Functionals are functions of functions - which is equivalent to functions of infinitely many variables.

    Second of all, quantum gravity is not even field theory (in the same spacetime), So even the representation in terms of QFT-like functionals (dealing with the same spacetime) is probably impossible.

    You are thinking about the state vectors in terms of a particular representation. Like in non-relativistic quantum mechanics, the Hilbert space is isomorphic to functions psi(x).

    But the Hilbert space doesn't need to be tied to any specific representation. I can just list a countable basis of vectors, v_0, v_1, v_2, v_3, and so on, and say that the Hilbert space is the space of all possible complex linear superpositions of these vectors. And there are operators that are given by matrices with respect to the Hilbert space. The fact that one doesn't represent the Hilbert space by anything as simple and constructive as functions psi(x) is not a physical defect in any sense.

    In various special situations, we know explicit ways how to define the Hilbert space simply and constructively. AdS/CFT and Matrix theory are examples of frameworks that allow one to define various superselection sectors of quantum gravity in terms of an equivalent quantum field theory - living on a different spacetime (either some auxiliary worldvolume, or the boundary of the CFT). So in that case, we know ways how to describe the Hilbert space in the same straightforward way as in QFTs - because these sectors of quantum gravity *are* examples of CFTs.

    In the most general case, it's difficult and we don't have any similar compact, constructive description of the Hilbert space of quantum gravity that would cover all superselection sectors, e.g. including all points of the string landscape. But that doesn't mean that the Hilbert space doesn't exist. It doesn't even mean that we can't make arbitrarily accurate calculations of very many classes of well-defined questions.

  16. Some people hated Kubrick's 2001. 2010 was awful. Some people hated blade runner. Both to me are great movies. I had mixed feelings about Sagan's Contact. I liked the stuff about the radio telescopes and Jake Busey played one hell of a scary religious fundamentalist. But it turned into sentimental jello at the end. I may see this movie.

    Ayn Rand is a bore. 3rd rate philosopher. 3rd rate novelist.

    Kaku is a bs salesman of this wormhole stuff. He repeats this stuff on TV and in his books. He floats pure speculation as possible science because it hasn't been absolutely ruled out.

  17. This article says that there are stable periodic orbits around rotating black holes:

  18. "scientific fidelity in a Hollywood movie shouldn't be as perfect as the correctness of a physics paper." Empirical examples of quantum gravitation; empirical detection of SUSY partners, dark matter, axions, proton decay, LHC nano-black holes... and make this realistic, too,

    Do a geometric Eötvös experiment to test spacetime geometry. Twice {20 grams as 4 single crystal test masses, one side of the Eötvös rotor's cubic test mass array} compare 6.68×10^22 pairs of opposite shoes (pairs of 9-atom enantiomorphic unit cells). The worst it can do is succeed.

    NASA as hero? "ACK! THBBFT!" Perhaps the engineers killed all the political appointees. Shoot twice, go back to your work.

  19. Wait a minute. Functionals are nothing but functions, in a set theoretical sense (with a fancy name). And no sum of two functions can be defined without a mapping between their domains, even if their images are subsets of a field (like the complex numbers). So, how this mapping is constructed?

  20. I want some of that stuff that you are drinking :)

  21. +1 for that 'perhaps the engineers killed all the political appointees'

  22. Hey Lubos!

    You may enjoy this blog post, where this professor argues to justify many of the effects seen in the movie. Specifically, many reviewers complained about the time dilation factor on the water planet near the black hole. This guy shows that, applying the Kerr metric as one should for a rotating black hole, rather than the Schwarzschild metric, allows for this effect. It seems he agrees with you about the movie! As a mathematics graduate student, and physics enthusiast, I loved this movie. It is the first movie I have seen that effectively used relativity as a major plot device, and it was an exciting, optimistic, pro-scientific pro-humanity movie! I hope more movies like this are released in the future.

  23. The fact that it might be like sitting through a 3 hour physics lecture makes the movie seem even more interesting to me; but I read The Reference Frame in my spare time for fun. Also, and it may be the fact that I'm not a trained physicist, but I tire of the mantra that superluminal travel is not possible. Quite frankly, it may be possible. Our technology is not advanced enough to know. For chrissakes we have been stuck for a century on how to develop a theory of quantum gravity and only understand the barest minimum about dark matter and dark energy. In fact, the word "dark" is used is an expression of our collective ignorance of the 95% of the universe we don't yet understand. I'm for all the geeks. I'm pro-geekery. But sometimes physicists and people in many other disciplines pronounce this or that is not possible when they have no real idea what might or might not be possible.

  24. Dear Ganesh, right but I was faster. Several hours before you posted your comment, the updated blog post above already contained the comment that the rotating black holes do allow the red shift on orbits that is higher, and I linked to an "update" (Mea Culpa) by Phil Plait, a guy who is criticized by your physicist from your URL.

  25. Dear Peter, this exchange seems an absolute waste of time. I've spent about 10 minutes writing the previous comment whose point is to explain that the state vectors in the general quantum gravity setup are *not* given by functionals which also means that there is *no* canonical mapping of the domains. And then you ask again how it is constructed? Do you agree that you just forced me to waste 10 minutes of my life?

    You're also wrong that functionals and functions are the same thing. The term that governs both is known, at least in physics terminology, as "maps", not "functions", and "functions" are another word for map from a domain described by finitely many at most real or complex variables. Functionals have "larger" domains - set of functions, not R^n, and they're treated as different objects than functions.

    Ironically, the reason why functionals are *different* than functions in physics terminology is set-theoretical. The set of functions has a higher cardinality than R^n (continuum).

  26. SCIENCE FICTION means Science fiction. Yes at points there will be times where you have to abandon the fact you are not in a physics lecture, you're in a theater. What this movie does better than most sci fi movies is use the science and the science fiction together to help progress the plot. Does this mean you have to be able to discern when the movie leaves reality to enjoy it fully? I'd say probably. Does it mean you can't enjoy the film? Absolutely not. Now I believe that a lot of negative reviews based on the "pseudoscience" of the movie are unfounded as well. There were a billion different theories being touched on in this movie (forgive the hyperbole and if i am repeating on points this blogger mentioned). Theories aren't facts until it has proven correct? The black hole is such an insane enigma on the effects of time space that it will be a very long time before we can discern with empirical evidence what is fact about them. What is a fact however is the definition of a theory(please don't get carried away the the metaphysical implications of that statement). Why couldn't it be theoretically possible for the center of a black hole to contain this tesseract? Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that if the movie had told me there was a banjo in the middle of the black hole that I wouldn't be pissed. But until someone provides ustheir decades of research and empirical data to state otherwise then I am not going to hold it against the movie. Its a plot device derived on the theory and the enigma of black holes. Oh and also ITS A SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE. The pseudo intellectuals who would like to berate the movie by pointing out what is and isn't possible in the realm of theoretical physics must be the most pleasant people in the world to frequent a movie with. Pointing out that "Nope! A vehicle of that mass could not possibly reach a velocity in the amount of time before the wreck to cause six flips. This movie blows." I heard review in which the critic compared this movie to Prometheus in which he favored the latter. Within the same review he pointed out that the science was just bad science filled with inaccuracies and make believe. My question would be; why is Prometheus science good and Interstellar is not? One of two guess as to why that is. One, you either feel that the movie tried too hard to make you believe in the Science fiction, which is a fair but a subjective point, or two, you only enjoy purely non-fiction movies, which makes you entirely too biased. Also, it begs the question as to why you decided to see a scifi flick in the first place. I'm seeing critics making some contradicting remarks regarding plausible futuristic settings. The best way to describe it best would be to use the movie Core as an example. Is it plausible that someday in the future that mankind can build a craft that could traverse to core of the planet? Yes I believe it is plausible and the movie did make an attempt at justifying its plausibility with some, albeit simplified, geochemistry. But is it plausible to have to into the earth to set off nuclear weapons to "restart the core?" Not so much.

  27. Completely off topic, shame on me:

  28. Lubos, you summarily dismiss the muddied sound problem. I want to defend it as an integral artistic decision.

    Earlier Nolan films were almost crystal clear in their sound. Furthermore, I think the sound was deliberately, recurrently, muddied to require close contextual attention from the viewers.

    Doing so also helps the viewer to 'get closer' to the character parts and involve himself by identifying with the 'quest' nature of the narrative. Given that the story requires dangerous exploration of parts unknown, I think this was a wise and self-conscious decision.

    I cannot but help think that Nolan's story arc begans with this question: fifty years from now, 'What would Christopher Columbus do?' The answer of daring-do aided by much teamwork rings true with me. His answer is clearly framed, morally.

    This meta-morality of western and American exceptionalism with a Christian subtext is outlined by John Boot at pjmedia, in "5 Conservative Themes Hidden in 'Interstellar'"

  29. I didn't have the courage to think about the excessively loud sound as an advantage yet. ;-)

    Columbus did great things - but I think that much of it was due to luck, not his intrinsic superiority. If the biologically identical man were placed in a different year to show his creativity and audacity, he may very well turn out to be an unsuccessful one, and someone else would be the big guy.

  30. I haven't yet seen film, so will read your reviews (with spoilers) afterwards, but I am really looking forward to this film. Glad you have rviewed it.

  31. I'll admit to having jumped to the conclusion that the blight is a surrogate for global warming, and that the brave scientists are stand ins for Michael Mann and his ilk. You characterization of them as a sort of oppressed underground group might seem inconsistent with my assumption, but one should remember that as incredible as it may seem global warming activists often talk of themselves as if they are an oppressed minority.

    I still think that the very concept of a planet or at least humanity threatening environmental catastrophe tends to play into the hands of those who propagate the notion that government needs to save people from themselves. It is hard to imagine that the filmmakers would choose NASA in particular as the group that is going to save the world if they did not intend to confer some credence on that agency's involvement with global warming, which is the only thing most people hear about NASA these days ("NASA – who actually know what is probably going to happen and who are creatively working hard to bring us a better future.")

  32. This is absolutely an anti-Global-warming-hysteria movie (major spoilers):

    ~The anti-technology environmental movement (simpler less consuming society) has taken over. They were sneering at the time when we thought 6 billion could live on the planet with all their "wants".

    ~Mankind is threatened by something created by nature, not man. Because humans eschewed technology, we don't have the ability to solve the natural threat.

    ~The moon-landing-was-faked theme comes from that stupid Lewandosky study attempting to show climate-skeptics believed the moon-landing was faked when it actually showed that skeptics were more scientific than the hysterics.

    ~One of the prime villains was named DR. MANN of all things! And he faked data in the service of the larger "cause," i.e., the species over actual living human beings. His faked data (like the hockey-stick) led humans to a wrong and dead-end direction.

    ~The human will to live and the innate love of our kin combined with our intellectual/technological capacity were the forces that could lead mankind forward, not a dispassionate concern for the "species" that allowed us to sacrifice the well-being of the living (today's energy impoverished, e.g.) for the sake of an abstraction or a utopia.

    Thorne or the director or both are anti-global-warming-hysterics. Tell me I am wrong?

  33. I I am one of those who found the movie disappointing. It borrowed a little too much from (1) 2001: A Space Odyssey (summoned to a star gate out by the big planets just when Earth is in trouble, as well as a lot of the imagery) , (2) Contact (brilliant female scientist loses dad she adores at early age, but "they" bring them back together and (3) Timescape by Gregory Benford (reach back in time to pull the planetary fat out of the fire).

    The many sub-plots were garbled and didn't fit together. The movie was, well, bloated.

    The robots were silly.

    Finally, and most importantly, if you're going to make a movie about time travel, you have to approach it in a fresh, new, or clever way. That multi-layered book shelf scene just didn't do it for me.

  34. When I say anti-global-warming-hysteric I mean they are against people who are hysterical about global warming.

  35. Lubos,
    I did not read your first review of the movie before posting this; I just did. That people are independently thinking the same thing about the inherent criticism of the hysterics that is found in the plot must mean it was intentional. What do you know think of Thorne?

  36. Dear Mark, this anti-environmentalist and "pro-experiment" flavor of the plot must have been intentional: I think so, too.

    You know, the green nuts often like to say that "we're doing an experiment with the whole planet" and "there is no planet B", and so on. Well, I think that the key messages of Nolan's movies really *were* exactly the opposite. We *should* be constantly doing things like experiments, even at the planetary scale, and there in fact *is* a Planet B and even Planet A and Planet C! So fuck yourself, watermelons, Nolan says! ;-) At least that's how I read it.

    I have never met Thorne if I remember well! I realize that he is popular among the "cultural front" - that became clear even in my communication with the "Prague cafe". I won't reveal whom I exactly mean. When they talk to each other, they pick Thorne as one of the "best" folks whom they are close to.

    It is not clear to me where he is politically, for example, but I surely do believe that he is out of the "left-wing fringe".

  37. I saw the movie, gave a 7/10 which means good but not great. I liked most of the physics, and I liked that there was no mention of global warming or humans destroying the Earth. I loved the humor of the robot. But as a movie, it was just way too melodramatic for me. Too much crap about love transcending dimensions, and I didn't like the family dynamic.

  38. Thanks, Lubos.

    I have enjoyed some delicious reading of articles by those ideologues who are confused about the message of the film -- they so want it to carry the CAGW water; and some think it somehow does, just too weakly.

    The cognitive dissonance and confusion is delightful to observe.

  39. You might bring ear plugs. The sound editor, the guy who did the score with the relentless throbbing bass drone note assaulting your ear throughout, that dude needs to be shot.
    I say shot because in an utopian future Earth that guy might get hired again to torture another movie's audience via soundtrack.

  40. I have biological objections to the script. Lack of co2 in the wake of IPCC rule wouldn't allow corn to be the last staple crop extant. Also I've read that out of all the elements making up the Earth, by far the most plentiful is oxygen, locked up in mineral form or what have you.
    So it makes absolutely no sense that the remaining people would die of asphyxiation (so proud to have spelled that word right the first time. Straight out of the box.) due to some bacteria killing off the land based plant life. Most of our airborne oxygen comes from cyanobacteria in the ocean. We call it seaweed, algae, plankton.

  41. Heck yeah!

    Dalton and all the anti-science anti-individualist types can damn well stand by in the dirt and wonder at the impossibility of what the geeks accomplish,

  42. I wish the wormhole in #Interstellar was realized by the ring of a Kerr blackhole. It's OK if the scale is wrong, but it would fulfill the curiosity for many of us. Of course it would required (much?) more intense computation than the one that's already in the movie :D

  43. On a post about "Interstellar" by global warming skeptic (and historian and political scientist) Steven Hayward, I simply had to share Lubo's mirth to deepen shared suspicions of director Christopher Nolan's "closeted conservatism." I did this my pasting a few paragraphs of the present review, comparing your insight favorably to the late Michael Crichton's. FOR MORE, SEE

  44. Two stars is generous. That tedious, overwrought, pretentious, badly scripted soap opera is an insult to any self-respecting sci-fi fan.

  45. Good to hear about that.

    Well, Michael Crichton would probably (also?) oppose being labeled as a "closeted conservative". But at any rate, it's obvious that he had nothing to do with most features of the contemporary liberal activism.

  46. Credit given, although you cant be pro-green, without technology.
    One needs to know nature to know how green it is, innovations from knowing, aka science.

  47. The idea of the wormhole' is actually quite fantastical... pun intended,
    The black sun is rarely spoken of anymores,

  48. Coop didn't need training. In the opening moments of the film we see him (dreaming of) flying a ship exactly like the one he pilots to the wormhole and beyond, and it crashes because the AI interferes. Brand Snr talks to him later about being the best qualified pilot for the job. Many people dislike this movie because they missed bits and then think they found holes in it.

  49. Vincenzo FiorentiniDec 13, 2014, 9:06:00 AM

    I didn't see the movie yet, and didn't read through all comments, just wanted to point out that some think it's a climate-change oh-my-we-are-all-going-to-die movie:
    Go figure.

  50. The movie undoubtedly shows an Earth that failed to be habitable, partly because the climate (a new Dust Bowl). But it partly became unlivable due to some parasitic plants that were changing the chemistry.

    What's more important are the deviations from the man-made hysteria:

    * the climate change was not caused by humans or CO2, at least not in any recognizable way

    * the movie explicitly says that regulating the scientific, technological, and industrial activity away is a wrong way to deal with any similar problems.

    For those reasons, it is an anti-environmentalist and especially anti-warmist movie.

  51. Vincenzo FiorentiniDec 13, 2014, 10:12:00 AM

    Thanks Lubos. Well then, great, it's a must-see. ;) Clearly the guy at had his preconceived notion(s) to nurse. (He also rants about lack of racial diversity, but then adds 'that's exactly the point', basically it's angry white males who are destroying the earth. These reviews are almost better than the movies...)

  52. What a waste of space to write about something you havent seen! This guy , Vincenzo, is going to change the history of the universe! Way to go Vincenzo. You da man!

  53. What an idiot Vincenzo. Watch the movie first!

  54. Alice and Bill (below) were posting from the same IP address, probably the same person.

    It sounds like a sentence from articles about the experiments with quantum information (A and B and cloning). ;-)

  55. On the note of the physics debates I'd postulate that on these other planets in other galaxies the laws of physics as we know them simply don't apply, or apply in different ways. Physics as we know it is pretty much limited to our own planet and our theories about the observable universe, a tiny fractal of what's actually out there and even then we only have theories.

    What annoys me about the movie is the bootstrap paradox. Using "future humans" who's own ancestors would not exist without their actions is a stupid premise...even considering the malleable nature of time that can't happen.

    That sort of ruined my suspension of disbelief when they jumped from unlikely to impossible. Navigable wormholes? Sure. Frozen clouds? Why not? Future humans who only exist because they reached into the past and stopped themselves from becoming extinct? Mmmmmm no, sorry.

  56. "and his wrongness seems to be due to some narcissism run amok"

    This seems to be more the case for you than for Penrose.

  57. Vincenzo FiorentiniApr 11, 2015, 4:11:00 PM

    well, this comment of yours *is* going to change the history of the universe, no doubt. LOL