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What ‘Interstellar’ got wrong and why scientists are pissed off

- November 8th, 2014

Christopher Nolan’s latest intergalactic cavalcade of scientific phenomenon, Interstellar, has been met with a mixture of adoration and condemnation by the critic community.

There’s no question that the film is one of the most cerebral cinematic experiences mainstream film goers will see this year, or that its worlds are beautifully constructed, coming to life in the coziness of an IMAX theater.

One of the most contentious issues surmised by movie goers is the authenticity surrounding the science in the film. A facet to the feature Nolan blatantly brags about before the movie even begins.

When it was revealed that he was bringing on Kip Thorne, a revered and world renowned astrophysicist who’s spent the majority of his life trying to understand the makeup of black holes and gravitational pulls, the science community nearly fainted with excitement.

Together, Nolan and Thorne promised they would bring scientifically accurate black hole representations to the film, something science fiction fans had been waiting quite some time for.

It didn’t take long, however, for other scientists to start taking their own notes and picking apart Nolan’s representation of Thorne’s work.

Slate’s resident science author Phil Plait collected information and set about debunking some of the most extravagant scenes in the movie.

For those interested in the movie but who haven’t actually made it out to a theater to see it, there will be spoiler alerts in the following paragraphs. You’ve been officially warned.

Black holes and time difference

A large part of Interstellar’s plot relies on the use of black holes to exaggerate the difference in the speed of time Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway’s characters would experience while they were off exploring different planets to use as a secondary home while the Earth literally fades to dust.

According to Plait, while it may be true that time does slow down the closer a planet is to a black hole, it’s utter malarkey to assume that every hour that passed on the planet closest to the black hole is equivalent to seven normal years on Earth.

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In order to attain that severe degree in time difference, the planet would have to be literally hovering over the black hole. Unfortunately, a planet must be able to sustain an orbit of about three black hole sizes away from the actual space vacuum to be considered stable.

In other words, if they were that close to the black hole, they would have literally fallen into it.

Black holes and tidal waves

Another issue that Plait talks about is tides. On the aforementioned black hole hovering planet, Hathaway and McConaughey encounter massive tidal waves. As in thousands of feet high tidal waves ensuring a massive amount of devastation and destruction.

Here’s the issue: The kind of gravity enforced on a planet that close to a black hole would be so daunting, the tidal waves would envelop the surface in its entirety. The waves would be so titanic, they would cause the planet to vaporize.

Black holes and the “Accretion Disk”

One of the last problems Plait discusses occurs within the final act of the movie. In order to save himself, and the future of the Earth, McConaughey must actually fall into a black hole. In the movie, he’s able to navigate through the black hole and warn his daughter (played by Jessica Chastain) about everything that’s going on in the world through a form of gravitational pull and Morse code.

The problem with this scenario is pretty blatant, and as Plait points out, one of the more careless mistakes. Before McConaughey enters the black hole, audiences get a glimpse of the “accretion disk.” The accretion disk is a compilation of all the matter about to be sucked into the black hole.

As Plait points out, the problem with this scenario is that neither Nolan nor Thorne took into consideration that accretion disks run extremely hot. Like, millions upon millions of degrees blazing hot. If McConughey had even gotten close to the disk he would have been incinerated in seconds. Good luck saving the world at that point.

More and more of these debunking stories will come out of different publications for weeks to come, and while it might not matter to someone who wants a visually stimulating experience set in space, fans of astrophysics and space in general should take the information they’re being doled out hesitantly.

Check out the new poster for Matthew McConaughey’s ‘Interstellar’

- September 16th, 2014

It’s still a little over a month away, but Paramount is giving us a fresh look at Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar that shows star Matthew McConaughey exploring a foreign planet’s icy terrain. “The end of Earth will not be the end of us,” the tagline reads.

The plot details for the film are a tightly guarded secret, but we do know that McConaughey plays an engineer who is sent into space to help save humanity. A short synopsis from a fan website says the film is “Mainly based on the scientific theories and script treatment of renowned theoretical physicist, Kip Thorne.”

In the future, governments and economies across the globe have collapsed, food is scarce, NASA is no more, and the 20th Century is to blame. A mysterious rip in spacetime opens and it’s up to whatever is left of NASA to explore and offer up hope for mankind.
Interstellar chronicles the adventures of a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.

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Interstellar opens Nov. 7.

Watch the new trailer for Johnny Depp’s ‘Transcendence’

- February 12th, 2014

Johnny Depp will hopefully reverse a bit of a cold streak when his sci-fi-tinged Transcendence bows this April.

Helmed by Oscar-winning cinematographer (for Inception) and frequent Christopher Nolan collaborator Wally Pfister, Depp stars in the upcoming film as an A.I. researcher whose consciousness is uploaded to a computer after he is shot dead by an anti-digital activist.

Transcendence also stars Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Kate Mara and Cillian Murphy.

After Depp’s Dr. Will Caster gets plugged in, well, things go awry. It’s the Internet, and he needs more and more power to survive. “If we don’t stop him, it will be the end of mankind as we know it,” Freeman’s character warns us.

We’ll get to see more of Johnny’s bad self when Transcendence opens April 17.

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‘Interstellar’ trailer released: First look at Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi epic

- December 14th, 2013

Chris Nolan fans rejoice! We’re getting our first look at the director’s upcoming sci-fi epic Interstellar.

With a voice over provided by star Matthew McConaughey, the teaser trailer doesn’t show much action or offer up anything in the way of plot, but the 1-minute-and-43-second ad does do a good job fanning the flames of anticipation.

The film is based on the theories of physicist Kip Thorne, and revolves around a group of explorers who make use of a wormhole to further mankind’s journey into the depths of the universe via interstellar travel.

A plot description from the official website reads: “In the future, governments and economies across the globe have collapsed, food is scarce, NASA is no more, and the 20th Century is to blame. A mysterious rip in spacetime opens and it’s up to whatever is left of NASA to explore and offer up hope for mankind.”

In addition to McConaughey, the film stars Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, David Gyasi, Wes Bentley, Mackenzie Foy, Timothée Chalamet, Topher Grace, David Oyelowo, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Caine and Matt Damon.

The film promises to push the boundaries for Nolan visually, with the Dark Knight trilogy director affixing an IMAX camera to a Learjet to capture some of the film’s aerial sequences (via reddit).

Very cool indeed. I can’t wait. Let us know what you think in the comments.

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Interstellar will be released November 7, 2014.

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Is ‘Man of Steel 2′ going to be Superman vs. Batman?

- July 24th, 2013
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Batman – the dark knight falls

So unless you were living under rock last weekend, you’ve no doubt heard that DC is skipping Man of Steel 2 to make a joint Superman/Batman movie instead.

Henry Cavill’s Superman will be joined by a still-to-be-named actor playing Batman. Man of Steel director Zack Snyder will direct and co-write with David S. Goyer, with Christopher Nolan exec producing.

The film is due out in 2015.

At a separate Comic-Con panel celebrating Superman’s 75th anniversary, ComicBook.com reveals that Goyer said the movie would have one of two titles: “We’re actually not sure whether the title is Superman vs. Batman or Batman vs. Superman but yes, it’s–that rematch, that combination, the two guys onscreen and that’s happening.”

So it seems that Superman and Batman won’t be a team-up – at least initially. It’ll be more of a battle. But I’m wondering in that instance, who’ll be the villain?

The folks at ComicBook.com did some further research and found out that the domain BatmanVsSupermanMovie.com redirects to warnerbros.com.

Batman and Superman have teamed up many times in the comic books, perhaps most famously in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns in 1986. There was even a planned film in 2003 that was to be directed by Wolfgang Petersen (Troy).

As he announced the new film at Comic-Con, Synder invited Harry Lennix (who played General Swanwick in Man of Steel) onstage to read the line from the comic: “I want you to remember, Clark,” he said before the flickering images of a Superman and Batman logo flashed on the screen. “In all the years to come. In all your most private moments. I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.”

Snyder said that his upcoming movie won’t be an adaptation of Miller’s series, but it will help influence the story.

“We’re not adapting this thing, but it is the thing that will help us tell that story,” Snyder said.

Man of Steel dropped several hints of a shared DC universe including signage for Wayne Enterprises, LexCorp and Utopia Casino.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. will release The Flash in 2016 and Justice League in 2017.

So that’s what we know. What storyline would you like to see in the upcoming Superman/Batman film? Let us know what you think in the comments.