There’s not much point complaining about the science in Interstellar. It’s a movie. There are actually some nice scientific touches (such as the depiction of artificial intelligence in the robots, and the basis for programming in humour and dishonesty). Anyway, the sci in sci fi is always hampered by the fi: the authors deliberately write in limits to technology that place the protagonists in peril, when they could just as easily write in different technologies that keep everybody safe.
Whining about scientific inaccuracy in sci fi movies is a bit like complaining that the dancers in the Perm State Ballet’s production of Swan Lake aren’t real swans. It’s art, people.
Said people did the same with Gravity. For me, I thought Gravity was a very long depiction of a person surviving an automobile accident, a kind of crash test dummy film set in the stratosphere. At the end, when Sandra Bullock walks from the wreckage after swimming to the shore after crash landing from space, I thought the movie would have been greatly improved had she slipped on a wet rock, hit her head, and been killed (or at least broke her nose). The fictional value of such an ending would have made the movie much more profound (or, in the broken nose scenario, funny).
For me, the bigger problem with Interstellar is an old-fashioned one. As plot holes go, it’s a movie cliche in its own right. It’s the fact that the entire story revolves around a conflation of cause and effect resulting from a conflation of future and present.
Basically, the events that lead Matthew McConaughey to go into space were precipitated by Matthew himself, from the future, after he went into space.
It’s a bit like me deciding to write this blog post after seeing Interstellar, somehow posting it to a magic internet that appeared online two weeks ago, then me stumbling across and reading my own blog post today, and on that basis deciding to go see Interstellar.
Had Matthew not gone into space in the first place, then he would never have gone into space in the first place.
Oh, yeah, that was a spoiler. All I need to do now is somehow say that to you before you actually read this…
Brian Hughes is an academic psychologist and university professor in Galway, Ireland, specialising in stress, health, and the application of psychology to social issues. He writes widely on the psychology of empiricism and of empirically disputable claims, especially as they pertain to science, health, medicine, and politics.