Movie/Technology Review - Interstellar

Movie/Technology Review: Interstellar

Funny robot, Gravity for communication, Wormholes, Relativity !!!


Space hounds! how are you doing? We are back with another movie review - Interstellar. It should still be playing at a theatre in your town or city and if you can, go and see it on the big screen. Its an interesting movie in many ways. At its core, its a story about human beings and not Space as such. However, its uses the backdrop of Space to great effect. There are very little obvious special effects but the dialogue and story are gripping right until the very end. Its a long movie (more than 2 hours 45 minutes). The following paragraphs may reveal some parts of the movie and if you would like to see the movie first, go ahead, see the movie and then come back. This review is not going anywhere :-). So let's get to the interesting bits.

A robot programmed to joke with you:

A robot/computer companion of the astronauts in the movie is programmed not just to assist in the mission but to provide banter. Realistically, this is probably going to happen sooner in our world than most other parts of the movie. Already, robots are being created and tested that assist lonely people, old people, sick people to provide not just care but companionship. This requires the robots to not only  understand natural language but also understand humor, sarcasm and honesty. No doubt the existence of such robots (I call them robots and not androids because they are clearly not shaped like bi-pedals) will augment the journeys of space travelers with tremendous benefits. This is one area that I believe should be quite interesting in the near future i.e. within our life times.

Gravity as a communications tool:

At one point in the movie, gravity is used to communicate with between an astronaut in another galaxy with a human being on Earth with the assumption that gravity can flow like time and bend it (just like it can bend Space). In the movie it is shown to be a sort of low bit-rate (i.e. very slow speed) form of communication because gravity causes a physical effect (such as the way dust falls on a floor) which has then to be interpreted. Nevertheless, as we know from past experience with communications, even a rate of 1 bit per second can be very cleverly used to transmit the most important pieces of communication effectively. But is this form of  communication across galaxies possible? No idea. Nevertheless, it is something that is quite ingenious.


In the movie, the astronauts are shown to   hibernate over long periods of time, spanning decades in a few   instances. We have covered this topic before. We know that slowing   down the metabolic rates can slow down aging but can we slow it down enough to not cause death? That is still unclear. Given the strong  likelihood of a manned mission to Mars in the next couple of decades and to farther planets in the next 50 years, we do believe   this area of research is going to produce definite answers soon.


The concept of instant travel from one part of   the universe to another has been the stuff of science fiction for a   long time. In fact, teleportation on Earth alone finds mention  everywhere from Harry Potter books to theories on quantum   entanglement. Since it is clear that faster than light travel ships using conventional mechanisms are unlikely even in the next century, it is no surprise that wormholes are the choice of transport for   physicists, Star Wars pilots and Interstellar astronauts. Although I  cannot claim to know how a pilot in a spaceship would create a   wormhole and then enter it without collapsing it, permanent  wormholes seem to be more feasible (once we know how to generate them). Since gravity (for now) appears to be untameable by us in any  convenient fashion, it looks like wormholes are a distant pipe dream. But would it not be cool to have some of these?


As anyone who has read Stephen Hawking's book 'A  Brief History of Time' will tell you, you cannot break the laws of   Physics and get something for nothing. We know our Sun is massive  enough to bend light around itself that's coming from distant stars to Earth. So what are the chances that time differences (due to different gravities experienced in travel) will not affect how time flies? Truly speaking, we don't know. Space as any astronomer will tell you is mostly empty. It is even difficult to know what exists  in the space between two galaxies even if we knew what exists between star systems. So why would anyone go there? On the other extreme, black holes (which are featured in the movie Interstellar) create a ridiculous amount of time shift because of how strongly they bend time due to their gravity. So which ones will be use for our travel and how? These are distant questions but until they are answered it will not be possible to know whether when we return back to our origin after a journey, how much time would really have passed.

Hope you enjoyed our review. Please tweet, like, comment, +1, pin this page if you have any thoughts on this.


Azeem Khan

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