'Interstellar' VFX give new insights into black holes


Anyone who wants movie VFX to conform less to Science than the director wants is a clueless hack, and anyone who wants movie VFX to conform more to Science than the director wants is a hopeless nerd with no affinity for artistry and storytelling. Your director’s level may vary.


aaand an evening of George Carlin awaits.

On topic: Wow. Just, wow.

I wonder how many people can claim that Stephen Hawking lost a bet concerning Black Holes to them.
Kip Thorne can.

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Theoretically, scientific knowledge can be rated on an objective scale, and the scientific teams who generate such knowledge can be valued accordingly. We can say, for instance, that General Relativity was worth more to science than the the events of 3 July 1844.
We can’t really say the same about directors. There’s no way to objectively rate Stanley Kubrick as better, or worse than Jean Renoir.
So if a director decides that his vision is more important than scientific accuracy, it’s my right as a viewer to criticize that director. It’s my right to move him closer to the “clueless hack” category.

I’m just saying as someone who works with directors that I often get eye rolls and baffled looks when I try to design something plausible but every so often I get a “you can’t put the air intakes there! They’d get clogged with dust!” and since I don’t change much from project to project I do have a personal sense of who is going to react how based on some experience of using myself as a basis for comparison. And it’s a weird feeling to move from “um, we are making a movie here, Einstein. You are way over-thinking this” to “do you understand how these things work? Because that would never work that way” as you go from project to project.

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If you’re feeling Masochistic, I reccomend that you check out CBS’s new hit Series Scorpion. It might make a good drinking game, but it’s pretty good at killing brain cells all by its lonesome.

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It’s great that Kip Thorne is involved in this, and encouraging this increased level of scientific accuracy for at least some parts of some films, but I do think there are two matters to clear up here that seem to show up in the summary but not in the video.

First, Kip was a Caltech physicist. He left Caltech in order to pursue film consulting and producing full-time, if I recall from the email that was sent to all of us at the time. Note that in the film, he’s referred to as the executive producer; the visuals just try to make him look like a professor. While he’s an emeritus professor, it feels a bit disingenuous to call him a “Caltech astrophysicist” when he’s apparently a film industry person now.

Second, in the video, Kip notes that they’re planning on writing some technical papers. That doesn’t imply peer reviewed papers, and might just mean technical reports. Looking on arXiv and Google Scholar, there don’t appear to be any relevant papers published or even in preprints. I’m not sure how this turned into “new peer-reviewed papers” in the summary, when the video claims nothing of the sort.

He left Caltech in order to pursue film consulting and producing full-time,

Dude. He’s 74.

Geometrodynamics: The Nonlinear Dynamics of Curved Spacetime

Frame-Dragging Vortexes and Tidal Tendexes Attached to Colliding Black Holes:
Visualizing the Curvature of Spacetime

Visualizing Spacetime Curvature via Frame-Drag Vortexes and Tidal Tendexes II. Stationary Black Holes

and so on.

Consult Kip Thorne’s Publications page for more details…

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