'Interstellar': Meet the Physicist Behind the Science of Christopher Nolan's Space Epic (Exclusive Featurette)

Jordan Zakarin

The creative Big Bang that led to formation of the space epic Interstellar took place not in the brain of director Christopher Nolan, but more fittingly, in the work of acclaimed theoretical physicist Kip Thorne.

The famed scientist, who you can se in the exclusive featurette above, has spent much of his life chasing down black holes and studying the implications of the theory of relativity. The end result, after several years of Hollywood development with producer Lynda Obst and sibling-collaborators Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, is the most plausible representation of a wormhole in big-budget movie history.

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“The thing that makes this different,” Thorne says of Interstellar, “is that real science is woven into it from the beginning.”

In Interstellar, Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway, playing a pilot named Cooper and scientist named Amelia, seek out new planets upon which a desperate humanity, choking on a dying earth, might find hope for the future. To do so, they must travel by wormhole, a theoretical phenomenon that Thorne has studied extensively.

At Nolan’s request, he provided reams of equations to the artists from the visual-effects company Double Negative, who were working on the film’s many space sequences, that would allow them to properly illustrate what a wormhole might look like.

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Thorne provided the same resources for the rending of the massive black hole that looms large throughout the mission. Called Gargantua, it bends space and time in its vortex, and the visual rendering, based on his equations, was so exact that it even helped him further his studies.

“This is our observational data,” Thorne told Wired. “That’s the way nature behaves. Period.”

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