Sunday, December 14, 2014

Stellar Interstellar

Dr Desert Flower and I went to go see Interstellar last night at a local movie theater - us, and 7 or 8 other people scattered throughout had the entire theater of 300 or so seats to ourselves.  I'd intentionally not read up on the movie as I wanted to be surprised and enjoy the story telling.  Wow.  It was really a riveting tale, that Christopher Nolan told quite well.

If you've not seen Interstellar, stop reading now, and go see it soon, or just skip this posting.  If you have seen it, please help me to understand:

1) why did the worm hole appear near Saturn 43 years before Dr Brand mentioned it to Cooper?  What caused it to "spontaneously form"?  And why near Saturn?

2) if the Ranger ship that Cooper was piloting was getting torn apart after it was sucked into the black hole, and he ejected, why didn't he get torn apart also?  Space suits and human skin are not as resilient as aluminum and titanium, when being pelted with things that can tear holes in space craft skin.  Cooper would have been shredded.

3) who was sitting behind Cooper in the disintegrating Ranger saying "Eject" to him, 3 times, before he ejected?  His elementary school aged daughter?  Or was it his subconscious talking to him? (or was it "love" …  ugh)

4) why didn't anyone try to get oxygen (and nutrients) from algae?  Wheat, gone - ok, believable since a global wheat blight is not that far away with various rusts and fungi that are currently attacking homogenized corporate wheat (yea!!!  less gluten!!!).  Okra, gone, who cares?  Those in the Southeast US, ok…   Corn, going..  well..  maybe, but DDF says that would take much longer, genetically, since humans have spliced so many genes into corn over the last century that it is rather hardy today.  How about Sorghum (grown all around Phoenix)?  Soybeans (grown ubiquitously in the Midwest) that are used in everything?  Rice (grown throughout Asia, and in water, not in the dust)?

5) who would have ever designed Any ventilation route from the cabin air to Ranger's engines, to would have enabled Cooper to "spark" the Ranger's flooded engines using cabin air and cabin oxygen?  It sounds great to tell T.A.R.S. to reroute the air to do that…  but..  no one would have ever designed in a 3 way vale that could have channeled cabin oxygen into the propulsion circuit, since the possibilities of back pressure causing the propulsion system to back feed into the cabin and incinerate the crew would dictate (safety first) that these two systems remain separate.

But these 5 plot holes aside…  the physics, and theory behind Interstellar was quite sound, and DDF and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Nolan takes the audience for an exciting 3 hour ride.  Warning: go in with an empty bladder; you're going to be sitting still for 3 hours.

Apparently, if Matt Damon is not a main character (Interstellar, The Departed) he's often a royal asshole (DDF would say "seriously flawed character", but I would rather not dress it up in flowery language) whose despicable acts have audience members cheering when he finally meets his demise.  I know I cheered when Damon's character tried to manually over-ride the airlock safeties that T.A.R.S. had locked.

I almost named this posting "T.A.R.S. Best Supporting Actor" as the T.A.R.S ex-military robot in Interstellar was hilarious, exceptionally well written, and intrinsically useful.  By far, the best "robot buddy" to have, and this is in spite of his "twix candy" appearance near the beginning of the 3 hour movie.


  1. Glad you liked it! I loved it. I've seen it twice, the second time in IMAX for the full 15/70mm IMAX experience. (yes, a few hundred kg of actual film). It was spectacular. This may be the last ever feature shot on 70MM IMAX film. If there's an IMAX theatre showing it on 70mm IMAX film within striking distance of you, I heartily recommend it.

  2. The wormhole was placed there by "them/they"/the "bulk beings"/us in the future.

  3. IMAX often makes me motion sick. There IS an IMAX, immediately adjacent to the theater in which we saw Interstellar, as it shares a common (non-sound-proof) wall… which was very distracting for the Loud Rumblings coming through the wall during quiet dialogue scenes… but there Were Only 10 people in the non-IMAX theater with us.

    I really did like it, a great deal. McConaughey is showing in his older years that he can act as well as he (in his younger years) built a six pack and f*cked-off smoking weed. True Detective, Dallas Buyers, and Interstellar… all marvelous performances. And it was nice to see Nolan not gratuitously blowing sh*t up just to blow it up as he often did on the Batmen franchise. Too bad Peter Jackson couldn't have worked with him instead of Guillermo D.T. who's ruining the Tolkien mythos for the sake of modern marketing.

    I will assume your response on the "who" of worm-hole placement (for argument's and logic's sake, within the Nolan writer's minds) was "future us", by why-the-hell Saturn? Why not the dark side of the moon… or the Kuiper Belt, or around Mars? Location-location-location is always important in real-estate. Why Saturn? And why 43 years before Professor Brand tells Cooper? "the year of the birth of our saviour… Cooper?" (extrapolated by the fact that he was 125 in human-earth-years and his daughter was in her 90s when she died, and 10 at the beginning of the movie) … that would be a BS reason.

    Leaving 2, 4, and 5 all unanswered. I can take "love" as 3… ok. Sure… a 'transcendant dimension' even for dead people… ok. And Maybe he actually "died" when he ejected, so #2 would be "Murphy: telling him, at the moment of his death, that he needed to eject (as a plot device). And then since it was a singularity, perhaps time COULD run backward (since he appeared in the multi-D library of shelves, as a comprehendible construct). Maybe. Peut être.

    But the myopathy of looking only at wheat / okra / corn shows a case of "city living paradigm / ignorance of the realities of rural farm production" … as rice, sorghum, and soy where not even tangentially mentioned in the movie. And the impossibility or physically re-routing cabin oxygen into the engines…. unless… in post-contemporary NASA their budget was SO Shoestring that they had no specific cabin oxygen supply, 100% of all of it coming from the ship's propulsion system,that it would be fine to let the crew die just to keep the engines running… but that still makes no sense as a good engineer looking at it.

    I WOULD like to see more of "The Adventures of TARS and Cooper" (with TARS getting top billing) … that's got a Science Fiction anthology written all over it... as the man older than anyone else, everyone he ever knew is dead, but he has a smart-ass robot side kick instead of a squealing & beeping R2D2, and "the Force" he deals with is in fact, gravity.

  4. For the ejection, I didn't much think about it. I thought either it was his ship telling him to eject, or he was remembering the incident from his young pilot days, the dream sequence of which opens the movie.

    For the blight, the key was that it was changing the atmosphere. They did say at one point the food basically doesn't matter because eventually people will start suffocating instead of starving. Also, as a hoosier, you should know that soybeans and corn are farmed in a complimentary fashion :-) Corn to beans with less atrizine -- a selling phrase from our youth. But just assume this, the line "we lost rice 3 years ago, soybeans the same time" was spoken off camera.

    I'm still wondering why their little ship could launch itself off a more massive planet than earth with its own engines but needed a saturn V to get it into earth orbit :-)

    It's not really about the plot so much.

    TARS was awesome. "I have a cue light I can use so you can tell when I'm joking. You can use it to find your way back after I blow you out the airlock. ...."

  5. I get motion sick really easily. So the IMAX museum-type documentaries with swooping and fly-throughs make me ill as well. But this one I was totally fine with. Sit near the top if you go. Plus with my bad hearing, I appreciated the excellent sound system.

    Funny story: the first time I saw it, no one would go with me. Then G decided he wanted to see it, so we went to the IMAX. He knew I'd found the movie incredibly sad, but, as he told me, he thought that was just because "Dad's old and has kids and gets sad easily". But then, no, he was surprised to find himself totally gutted. "It was actually sad! Not just "Dad sad"!!"
    heh heh

  6. OK, I'll assume the rice & beans went out earlier… though my imagination is less elastic than an 80s Stretch Armstrong.

    "Not just Dad sad"… that's hilarious!

    My take on the cargo & ranger's escaping the other planets, but requiring a massive Saturn V to get out of Earth's pull, is this: Plan B weighed alot + conservation of fuel + less crew + less "stuff" to carry over-all, having shuttled supplies down to the planet. When they got back to the station after the synchro docking maneuver (where Dr Mann's remains are re-entering the planet's atmosphere), and Anne Hathaway runs to the cryostorage as soon as she can and says with great relief "the back up generators kicked in, they're fine" there were thousands of pounds of eggs, containers, liquid nitrogen, chillers, etc, on what remained of the Endurance. When they went to the laughably smooth tsunami planet, they were supposed to go down, locate the beacon, look around, and get back, ASAP, so no supplies were shuttled down there.

    From a physics stand point, I figured there were probably as many space missions to build & stock endurance as there were to built today's ISS, which is to say, dozens. Some of the last missions, to build & stock endurance, would have been fuel ferrying missions. So when Cooper leaves Smooth Watery planet, he's not taking cargo and just burning up fuel. When Mann skeedaddles from Planet Iceland + Ammonia (filmed in Iceland & Alberta Canada, as well as Barstow & Inland Empire California for the dusty scenes) he's just trying to get to Endurance with a nearly empty Ranger, and when he gets there, he's pretty much out of fuel (assume someone, off camera, said "they'd have to refuel the Ranger, so the explosion that kills Damon should not be too big") =-)

    Agreed on the TARS sarcasm. Written SO Well, and delivered perfectly. NOT really sure how you "beam the data back in binary" to a watch hand… and have the string be less than several trillion pulses long… taking middle-age Murphy several millennia just to Receive it, much less decode it… but I figured that's a problem for the computer scientists and programmers. =P

  7. You're right of course -- why waste fuel if you can avoid it? And yes, lots of cargo, too. Good point.

    Yeah, I wondered about that "binary data" as well. What, a few terrabytes of telemetry, done by hand.... OK, we can assume maybe she was just missing a constant, that TARS figured out and they sent it over. Like an 8-digit constant maybe. OR... they aggregated the data and sent a relevant message entirely in morse. Should be able to do 40 WPM or more with morse.

  8. my friend…
    as I contemplate my last working day of 2014 (I saved Way Too Many of my 5 weeks of vacation) and 8+ ounce of Tullamore Dew course through my digestive track, and my 20+ year old cat circles my denim clad legs as I post your comment… I am Very Thankful for having such wonderful friends like you to debate with and discuss interesting topics. Thank you.

    Time to go grill some dinner….

  9. :-)
    Likewise, and thanks for having fun topics to discuss


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