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Christopher Nolan’s epic end of the world space drama has got everyone talking. The film is undisputedly gorgeous with characters faced with truly challenging and compelling moral dilemmas While there have been complaints about Nolan’s "unique" choices in mixing the film’s sound, the film has gotten a pretty positive review from one of America’s favorite scientific minds, Neil DeGrasse Tyson. One of America’s other favorite scientific minds, Bill Nye the Science Guy, had a few problems with the film. Check out what he had to say:
It’s worth noting that Nye hadn’t actually seen Nolan’s film when he made his comments (as it says in the video description). His critiques were merely based off of his knowledge of the film’s concept, the plot, and some of the script. The gist of his critique? Travelling through space and using wormholes as a shortcut to other worlds the way the astronauts do in Interstellar is an incredibly huge deal, and incredibly dangerous. Making sure the astronauts made it through the wormhole safely would have been an enormous feat of science, physics, and mathematics. Of course, if you’ve seen Interstellar, they claim to have done all of that legwork to keep the space travelers safe—the film just simplifies that process quite a bit for moviegoers.
Nye also gives a bit of advice for those wanting to explore the "final frontier" of the planet Mars. Instead of travelling to the intensely hostile planet, he recommends moving to the most remote, frozen tundras of Antarctica, using an oxygen tank to breathe instead of the air. You wouldn’t be on another planet, but in Antarctica, at least leaving your front door without being equipped with the right suit and breathing apparatus wouldn’t kill you. I mean, if you roamed around Antarctica without a coat, you’d surely die, but it probably wouldn’t be instantaneous and awful like it would be on Mars.
Basically, space travel is cool, and Nye would love to do it--if he could do it safely. Traveling safely to Mars or through a wormhole would both be highly, highly challenging.
Ultimately, Bill Nye calls the film a "charming piece of science fiction", which I loved. I rarely enjoy it when scientists try to break down the science behind a sci-fi flick (however, if you like that kind of stuff, you should check out Nasa’s scientific analysis of Star Trek). To me, it’s about as useful as trying to break down the biological reality of a dragon or a unicorn. Of course these movies are far-fetched, it’s science fiction, after all. Part of the fun of sci-fi is the crazy, out-of-this-world stuff movie makers put in a sci-fi flick. While I appreciate people like Bill Nye and Neil DeGrasse Tyson talking about and trying to educate the masses on the science represented in films, I was really happy to hear Nye say that ultimately sci-fi gets to bend the rules, citing classic Star Trek’s teleporter, the perfect gravity found on every planet Kirk’s crew visits, and every alien’s impeccable English.
It’s incredibly important to be educated, for sure, but at the end of the day, sometimes you just want to watch a movie about Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and some sassy robots zipping through space together, good science or not. Or maybe that's just me...
You can still see Interstellar in regular and IMAX theaters, and decide what you think of the film's science for yourself!