Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is Nolan NASA's new Kubrick?

Interstellar Super Massive Black Hole

You may not have been moved by the hype over writer/director Christopher Nolan's new movie, 'Interstellar', but the latest science news should peak your interest.

UNIVERSE TODAY  "...While he was working on the film Interstellar, executive producer Kip Thorne was tasked with creating the black hole that would be central to the plot. As a theoretical physicist, he also wanted to create something that was truly realistic and as close to the real thing as movie-goers would ever see.

...Kip Thorne produced an entirely new set of equations which guided the special effects teams rendering software. The end result was a visual representation that accurately depicts what a wormhole/black hole would look like in space.

...Relying entirely on known scientific principles, the black hole appears to spin at nearly the speed of light, dragging bits of the universe along with it. Based on the idea that it was once a star that collapsed into a singularity, the hole forms a glowing ring that orbits around a spheroidal maelstrom of light, which seems to curve over the top and under the bottom simultaneously.

To simulate the accretion disk, the special effects team generated a flat, multicolored ring and positioned it around their spinning black hole. Then something very weird and inspiring happened.
McConaughey explores another world in Interstellar (top). Thorne’s diagram of how a black hole distorts light. Credit: Kip Thorne
Thorne’s diagram of how a black hole distorts light. Credit: Kip Thorne
“We found that warping space around the black hole also warps the accretion disk,” explained Paul Franklin, a senior supervisor of Academy Award-winning effects house Double Negative. “So rather than looking like Saturn’s rings around a black sphere, the light creates this extraordinary halo.”
Thorne realized that they had correctly modeled a phenomenon inherent in the math he’d supplied.
“This is our observational data,” he said of the movie’s visualizations. “That’s the way nature behaves. Period.” 

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