back to article Interstellar sci-fi WORMS its way into spinning black hole science FACT

Boffins who worked alongside Hollywood film-makers on the Oscar-nominated sci-fi flick Interstellar reckon they've come up with new discoveries that reveal the "powerful effects" of black holes – all thanks to the computer code that was used for the movie. As The Register reported back in October, theoretical physicist Kip …

  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    "It's ray tracing, Jim. But not as we know it!"

    So, if one actually had a blackhole obscuring the starfield a few AUs away, one could easily deduce its spin by just looking for the whirled-up caustics?

    1. Little Mouse


      I wasted too many hours back in the early nineties on Persistence of Vison. I'm guessing my old 386 would have struggled a tad to recreate a Black Hole though - It took it all night just to display a simple glass sphere....

      I'd still have tried though.

  2. MondoMan

    The black hole took a bite out of the text...

    Typo: In " the effects of gravitational lensing – a simulated camera method...", the missing words -- perhaps "by using" -- should be restored in place of the "– ", as gravitational lensing itself is not a simulated camera method.

    Of course, if our universe itself is in fact just a giant simulation, no change is necessary. :)

    1. illiad

      Re: The black hole took a bite out of the text...

      nope, just brief English... ' I am talking to you *by using* this forum ' or ' I am talking to you in this forum' ..

      ' I have photos of my holiday ' or ' I have photos of my holiday by using my mobile phone as a camera'

  3. Comphuman2015


    The technical achievement of Interstellar is equal to the technical achievement of Gothic churches. Both are impressive, and neither proves anything.

    1. bri

      Re: Proof?

      What proofs are you talking about regarding empirical science, such as physics? The best you can do is to find out that your model/hypothesis is not in conflict with current observations and possibly that the alternative model is indeed in conflict. You can't mathematically/logically prove anything of consequence though.

      The empirical knowledge may change (and often does change) with more thorough observation. In real world, proofs are useful only within models which give them constraints, something to hook up to. We don't live in an idealized model however.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Proof?

        I guess they mean, both use maths and engineering and "science", one to construct an arch and a solid building, one to construct an image of a black hole.

        But they are not in the pursuit of science themselves. I'd rather a scientist be wrong and know why, than an artist accidentally be right and think they understand. We need both understanding and the correct goals.

        (For reasons why doing the math alone is not good enough, see the other 99% of Hollywood movies that cause crimes against science, logic, and nature :P ).

        1. Steve Knox

          Re: Proof?

          But they are not in the pursuit of science themselves. I'd rather a scientist be wrong and know why, than an artist accidentally be right and think they understand. We need both understanding and the correct goals.

          This is very much in the pursuit of science. Science goes (1) observation -> (2) hypothesis -> (3) prediction -> (4) test (via observation or experimentation) -> (5) replacement/refinement of hypothesis -> (3).

          This is a prediction based on current hypotheses of the behavior of black holes. The method used for this can be extended beyond visible light and to distances further than used for the movie. So this prediction model can be tested against future observations to further test our understanding, and may be useful in determining if and how much a given black hole is spinning.

          And your mischaracterization of "scientist" vs "artist" and how they interact with their world does disservice to both.

  4. Teiwaz

    Comment optional

    I just clicked into this article by hypnotised rabbit factor 8.

    Article title made no sense, just like this commnet, like playing darts blindfolded with soggy digestives.

    1. illiad

      Re: Comment optional

      LOL :) the title makes more sense than most, the reg staff like to mess around... :D :D

  5. Mark 85


    Which came first: The boffinery or the computer code? Or was it hand-in-hand?

  6. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    So we did get something worthwhile from the $165m spent on the film then.

    1. illiad

      It made $20million profit from 'domestic' (US ??) and box office is almost $672 Million worldwide... :) :)

      'something worthwhile' ??? it rather depends on your outlook, many scifi guys think its worth seeing more than once! :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It made my son say he wants to be a scientist when he's older.

      Inspirational value immesureable.

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

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    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: New Virtual Future Deals ...... with Novel Ways Forward

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  8. David 66

    I don't understand

    the animation lacks any context for me to understand what's occurring. It's appears to be a near-white-noise triptych and some stuff along the top that you'd want to crop.

    1. illiad

      Re: I don't understand

      hey dont panic, you need to be einstien or hawking to understand...

    2. Hollerith 1

      Re: I don't understand

      Image looks comfortingly like a row of airplane windows. 'Look outside, Johhny, isn't that a pretty view?'

    3. Little Mouse

      Re: I don't understand

      If it's easier-to-grasp movie graphics you're after - check out "The Black Hole". Slightly less accurate, I'll grant you, but still, Funny Robots!

  9. Bob Vistakin

    Can't be right

    You'd not ever see the black part that way. The matter is being sucked in all round it in 3 dimensions. If you were anywhere safe in its line of sight all the matter in front of you would obscure your view of the hole itself, in fact probably making it a bright light as it all heats up on its way to oblivion.

    1. Bronek Kozicki

      Re: Can't be right

      Yes but that would only happen if blackhole was actually surrounded by matter to devour. It is indeed expected that some blackholes are in the center of galaxies (or other dense objects) where there is matter in proximity which would create messy ring around the blackhole (accretion disk caused by drag from the rotation of blackhole), but it is also expected that there will be some blackholes with very little matter left around to be sucked. These will look just as pictured.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can't be right

        The look of the black hole is just about the only thing they got right.

        1. squigbobble

          Re: Can't be right

          Certainly not the x-ray dose you'd get from the accretion disk.

  10. Matthew Taylor

    The video reminds me of the "folding space" sequence in David Lynch's excellent sci-fi film Dune. It seemed rather surreal and odd looking at the time, but maybe it wasn't so far off after all - reality stranger than fiction and all that.

  11. Lallabalalla

    Meh to the video

    The BBC's clickonline have a better one.

  12. T. McGrath
    Thumb Down

    One of the worst Sci-Fi movies ever made.

    They were so worried about what the black hole looks like, that nobody bothered to consider what would happen to the rest of the solar system if you park a 3+ solar mass black hole right next to the planet Saturn.

    According to the movie - nothing happens. Thus destroying any hope of obtaining "plausible deniability" and making the rest of the movie completely unwatchable.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One of the worst Sci-Fi movies ever made.

      It was a wormhole next to Saturn. Not a black hole.

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