Trivia

Hard

Work On Which Of These Sci-Fi Movies Actually Led To Real World Scientific Papers?

The Martian
Interstellar
Gravity
12 Monkeys
The wormhole shown in the movie Interstellar.
Paramount Pictures/ViacomCBS Inc.

Answer: Interstellar

It’s not hard to find a sci-fi movie that has influenced somebody to grow up and pursue a career in science, but it’s a bit of a bigger challenge to find a sci-fi movie that actually generated new scientific content during production.

In the case of the sci-fi film Interstellar, a film that follows a group of future astronauts who set out through a wormhole in a bid to save humanity, director Christopher Nolan insisted on a realistic wormhole and supermassive rotating black hole. So realistic, in fact, that theoretical physicist Kip Thorne was brought on as an adviser and a team of 30 people led by special effects supervisor Paul Franklin was tasked with creating ultra-realistic CGI models of both.

The end result were computer models that depicted the wormhole and supermassive rotating black hole with such detail and accuracy that it took over 100 hours to generate single frames for some of it and the total data created for the simulated pair weighed in at 800 terabytes.

Work done by the team using existing scientific research and equations under the guidance of Thorne was so good, in fact, that actual scientists studied their model and published three different scientific papers about the effects of gravitational lensing and accretion disks surrounding black holes based on the insights gained from doing so.

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