31Oct2014

Movie ‘Interstellar’ Turns Black Holes Into Reality

IT took an astrophysicist, a movie’s special effects team and 800 terabytes of data. Now, we have our first look at what a real black hole may look like. We know they exist. We’ve just never directly seen one.

And we know they’re weird. Really weird. So the slowly swirling violet-blue twisters that look like the water going down your bath’s drain hole so common in science fiction have been just an analogous image. A representation. A guess.

Black holes revealed

Interstellar inspiration … This is what a rendering of all the known physics involving black holes produces: A halo-encased crystal ball. Source: Paramount Source: Supplied

Thanks to the special effects department of the upcoming movie Interstellar, the iconic super-sucker image has been consigned to history. The Wired website tells the story of Kip Thorne, an astrophysicist steeped in the theory and equations swirling around the mystery that is a black hole. He was approached by a big-budget special effects team seeking a sense of reality.

Interstellar drain ... The black hole from the movie of the same name, complete with vill

Interstellar drain … The black hole from the movie of the same name, complete with villainous and valiant robots. Source: Walt Disney Source: Supplied

It was an opportunity which he could not pass up. The result? Black holes revealed. “Why, of course! That’s what it would do.” All the pieces — the quandaries, equations and effects — fell into place. And all their preconceptions collapsed.

Interstellar’s black hole

After number-crunching that would take up to 100 hours to render an individual frame, the true image emerged. It’s all about gravitational lensing: An effect envisaged by Einstein — and proven by Hubble — where intense gravity would bend light. We’ve used it as a magnifying glass to observe incredibly distant galaxies.

New horizons ... The special effects team for the movie Interstellar have helped create a

New horizons … The special effects team for the movie Interstellar have helped create an accurate representation of a black hole. Source: Paramount. Source: Supplied

Now we know what it would look like up-close and personal. A crystal ball, full of swirling suns, surrounded by a glowing halo of star-stuff. It looks … weird. But also wonderful. “This is our observational data,” Throne told Wired. “That’s the way nature behaves. Period.”

‘Interstellar’ Can Send You Into Space

interstellar-banner

People who buy tickets on Fandango for director Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” will have a chance to win a flight into space aboard the Lynx Mark II spacecraft built by XCOR Aerospace. The contest is the result of a partnership between Paramount Pictures, Vice Media’s Motherboard channel and Fandango.

One winner will be selected to embark on a trip reaching an altitude of 100 kilometres, and will also receive 4g simulator training, as well as round-travel and hotel accommodations at the XCOR spaceport in Mojave, California, a prize package worth $100,000. The launch date for the spacecraft will be between Fall 2016 and Fall 2017. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to add value to our Fandango movie ticket for consumers,” said Fandango’s vp marketing Adam Rockmore. “The Interstellar trip is clearly the coolest prize we’ve ever given to a moviegoer in the 14 years of our company.”

Lynx is about 9 meters (~30 feet) in length with a double-delta wing that spans about 7.5 meters (~24 feet). The spacecraft depends on reusable rocket technology to take a pilot and a passenger (or payload) on half-hour suborbital flights to heights of 62 miles.

Astronaut Rick Seafross is set to pilot the craft, with the winning ticket buyer in the seat next to him. In the event that the winner doesn’t want to take the flight, he or she won’t leave empty-handed: There will be a prize of $75,000. The movie scheduled for a Nov. 5 (followed by a Nov. 7 wide launch) release stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Chastain. It follows a group of engineers and astronauts who leave a decaying Earth in search of habitable planets across the universe. Credit: mediapost.comhollywoodreporter.comlatimes.com

 

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