Spielberg Gets His "2001" On With Wormhole Saga

Illustration for article titled Spielberg Gets His 2001 On With Wormhole Saga

We've critiqued science fiction movies with bad science, but one project in development is supposed to have immaculate science, thanks to a script treatment by Caltech physics professor Kip S. Thorne. Interstellar, produced (and maybe directed) by Steven Spielberg, will deal with travel through a wormhole into an alternate dimension. Thorne insists the film won't violate any laws of physics, but will it ever actually get made? Click through for the latest info.

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Interstellar is being written by Jonah Nolan, brother of Batman Begins director Christopher and writer of The Prestige, based on Thorne's treatment. (And the L.A. Times reported that Nolan proposed adding a time-travel element to the movie's wormhole plot.) I got in touch with Thorne, but other than confirming that Nolan is writing the script he wouldn't comment about the movie.

But presumably the script would be based on Thorne's past work, with his former grad student Michael Morris, on wormholes. Morris and Thorne theorized 20 years ago that an unstable wormhole could be held open using a sphere of "exotic matter," which has a negative mass. And then, in another paper, they theorized that you could indeed use a wormhole to travel in time. (One way this could work would be to accelerate one end of the wormhole to a high velocity relative to the other, and then bringing it back.) Says the abstract:

It is argued that, if the laws of physics permit an advanced civilization to create and maintain a wormhole in space for interstellar travel, then that wormhole can be converted into a time machine with which causality might be violatable. Whether wormholes can be created and maintained entails deep, ill-understood issues about cosmic censorship, quantum gravity, and quantum field theory, including the question of whether field theory enforces an averaged version of the weak energy condition.

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In other words, it's theoretically possible, but we don't have enough data to say for sure. It sounds as though this would allow Nolan a lot of artistic license in the script for Interstellar, while still allowing Thorne to say the film violates no laws of physics.

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DISCUSSION

jeff-minor-old
Jeff-Minor

Are you the same Cpt Tim from over at BoingBoing?

"Why attack a fleet with a bunch of fighter jets when you could take 2 or 3 large rockets loaded with ball bearings, slingshot them around a moon, explode them, and cut an entire fleet to ribbons with bits of metal traveling hundreds of kilometers a second?"

Traveling at tens of thousands of miles an hour would be better. Or, why use the Death Star when you can launch a chunk of carbon (one ton of compressed nano-tubes) from out in the Ort cloud and accelerate it toward a planet at .9 light speed. When it hits there would such a pretty explosion. Hyper kinetic projectile weapons are so cool.