There are few movies that a person can appreciate for its commitment to stay in the realm of science. Many movies tend to create new laws and rules for their story to abide to, rather than trying to stick to ones that already exist. Writers who typically stray away from the actual science tend to come off as lazy. In fact, they should be seen as lazy. Imagination is as great as it is puzzlingly, but still is undoubtedly easy for many writers to do. What sets fantastic stories – stories that are creative, thought provoking, and inspiring – from those that are just entertaining is the story’s ability to shape a world different from the real one without changing or adding new rules to it – such as magic or superpowers. For those who have seen “Interstellar” will probably believe that the universe that the movie takes place in is not probable but plausible. Sure, there is definitely some parts to it that works in the realm of make believe, such as the black hole and the Tesseract. However, Christopher and Jonathan Nolan do attempt to keep the science in “Interstellar” based on the body of work from past to present Physicists and Cosmologists. Further to the point, Jonathan and Christopher Nolan even consulted such people as Theoretical Physicists Kip Thorne in scripting the story to their film. Few writers and directors ever consult a scientist to the actual mechanics of a scientific event – refer to all the “Star War” movies with explosions in space. A good movie entertains but a great one inspires, and these scientific falsehoods in movies like “Star Wars” are not as inspiring as people would think. Keeping “Interstellar” based on real world physics and astronomy definitely inspires more with the everyday layman than an illogical burst of flame will. So, for those viewers whose interest was sparked by the science of Interstellar, Kip Thorne has crafted an easy, accessible 300-page book about the science behind the movie for the average person.
At first, The Science of Interstellar by Kip Thorne looks like a college Astronomy textbook. It is not, however. It is not even written like one. If anything, the book is written like a long conversation over a cup of coffee – maybe more like a gallon jug. Suffice to say, it is one of the easiest books for a person to pick up, especially if they have seen the movie Interstellar. Maybe that’s why it’s so easy too. Every bit of science that is written in the book refers back to the movie, so the reader will always have a picture in their head of what Kip is talking about throughout the pages. It is also helps that Kip is exceptional at creating analogies. The best one is probably Kip comparing the critical orbit of a black hole to the rim of a volcano. Kip also does a good job of compartmentalizing his sections with three different markings: T for truth, EG for estimated guess, and S for speculation. This helps for the reader to know what is known by the science community to what could happen to what might happen. Even the EG and S sections all are built off of facts and are not just randomly devised crackpot theories.Some assumptions are made, but those assumptions are built off of prior knowledge like a hypothesis is. These assumptions do not manifest from dreams, but constructed from collections of observations. One big advice – more like universal advice with science books in general – do not feel intimidated if some of the concepts in The Science of Interstellar are too hard to understand. The point should be is to leave with understanding something that was once not understood and to pursue new books that may help further expound on the subjects that are difficult.
The book is a wonderful read, especially to those who are not attuned to the sciences and have no idea where to start. Science is often intimidating to a lot of people, but that does not mean only certain people can learn it. Everybody can understand science, just in different ways. Movies like “Interstellar” creates fantastic visuals for people who have trouble conceptualizing certain theories in Physics or Astronomy. It is too bad that a lot of science-fiction movies create distorted or just plain wrong depictions of science. Generally speaking, once these misconceptions and distortions are embedded into people’s brains, they are hard to break. It is sad as well because the study of Astronomy is beautiful. Stardust, Nebulae, clusters of galaxies and the balls of gas that light them, are fantastic to look at just the way they are to the normal eye. If people were able to understand the beauty behind it, the academia of science might start flourishing with a larger group of people ready to take the next step. To where? Who knows. But that’s the fun stuff about science – venturing to the unexpected.