Is “…getting the science wrong in films these days is no longer an option”?

Christopher Nolan, director of Interstellar, was interviewed in a BBC News article which stated that “he added that getting the science wrong in films these days is no longer an option.”

So while they are all busy patting themselves on the back about their strides forward in imaging wormholes (which might not even exist–so how could you verify that you correctly imaged something that might not even be?), those of us who wondered about the planets and not the stars in the movie are waiting for the explanation for ice cloud glaciers and the physics of that super tidal wave. And getting the science wrong is a daily occurrence in Hollywood: Ironman should be jelly inside that suit with some of the hits he’s taken, voices of giants are out of sync with their size, light and sound from distant events arrive at the same time, etc. You can see what one paleontologist thought of Jurassic World in another BBC story (hint: it doesn’t support getting the science right).  GG once sat in on a lecture on CGI animation and all the tricks used to be able to get those animations made in a decent amount of time; the answer to the question “so to what degree do you mimic reality” was “we don’t; we just try to make the animation look the way the animator wants it to look.” Basically, to goal is to look the way people expect things to look, not to look the way things actually would be.

This is not the first time Hollywood has pushed some scientists to look more closely at some aspect of their science (arguably any number of dinosaur movies and documentaries have pushed paleontologists to really see if their ideas on how these animals moved would really work); it is nice that this happened in this case. But if they do show this movie in science classes (which is the point of the BBC article), GG is hoping that they consider all the science and not just the stuff they really cared about.


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