Wired has a fun piece about physicist and black-hole guru Kip Thorne’s work on the film Interstellar, which comes out November 7. We’ve known the premise of the film for a long time: Earth is a disaster, the human race is on the verge of extinction, and mankind must find a new home. Alas, space is big. It would take way too many human lifetimes to travel to our nearest possible second homes. The only way to get there is through a wormhole—a spacetime tunnel linking two distant regions of the universe.
Wormholes, also known as Einstein-Rosen bridges, are not the same as black holes. Under normal circumstances, if you fall into a black hole it will crush you out of existence, not fling you to a distant corner of the universe. But black holes behaving in various ways could, in theory, open up wormholes. With Thorne’s guidance, apparently Nolan decided that a massive black hole (called Gargantua) spinning at nearly the speed of light would suffice.
What’s interesting is how much the black hole in Interstellar looks like the models that the scientists of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) have generated to study the black hole at the center of the Milky Way, Sagittarius A*. (The EHT is an international group of astronomers who are linking together a worldwide array of radio telescopes to observe black holes at event-horizon scales. More here.) In other words, the black hole in Interstellar is really, truly what scientists expect real-life astrophysical black holes to look like. Compare the images over at Wired with this simulation by Avery Broderick, a theorist at the University of Waterloo and the Perimeter Institute who has been part of the EHT collaboration since the beginning:To read more, click here.