Neil deGrasse Tyson Sounds Off on the Science of Interstellar


If you’re going to claim that your sci-fi movie is based on any element of real world science, you had better be able to back it up because let’s face it… people just love to nitpick details. When Gravity hit theatres last year, it was slammed by some for being inaccurate, which is obviously more important than being thrilling (that was sarcasm). Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, however, was inspired by the work of theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, who also served as a consultant on the film, so it must be air tight, right? Well… actually yes, as it turns out.

Famed astrophysicist and host of Cosmos, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is back at it again, evaluating the veracity of the science of Interstellar. He sent out a barrage of tweets yesterday and also appeared on CBS This Morning to discuss it in more detail. Surprisingly, he didn’t really have anything negative to say about the movie’s presentation of wormholes, black holes or relativity, although he didn’t address some of the complaints that have turned up elsewhere. How do you feel about the accuracy of the science in Interstellar? Check out what Neil deGrasse Tyson had to say after the jump.

  • theo

    W.G.A.F.? This ain’t the Discovery Channel. It’s a sci-fi flick. All that really matters is if it’s good entertainment or not.

  • Well, that’s all that matters to YOU. To him, the science is the exciting part, and if he can address a wider audience by using film as an example to teach, then all the power to him.

  • ECONOMYpolitica

    This movie was completely factual. 100% true. I trust Jay will cover it on the documentary blog podcast.

  • ECONOMYpolitica

    Movies are not real!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11

  • Jr

    It is annoying that science fiction has now come to the point where it has to be validated by real scientists to be of worth. That being said, the filmmakers promoted this film as being scientifically sound and even have a theoretical physicist as a producer and consultant so in this case they very well should get their shit right.

  • I remember most people freaking out when he was tweeting about Gravity, but I have a little sympathy for the guy. If you see something you do for a living vastly misrepresented on screen, I can see how it would rub you the wrong way. For example, I have a feeling the game design aspects of Grandma’s Boy must drive Frank fucking nuts. While I’m sure NdGT is aware that most people don’t care about scientific accuracy in a movie like Gravity, you can’t blame him for being perturbed and wanting to talk about it. I think the “Shut the fuck up, it’s just a movie” argument is less interesting than talking about if the science holds water, even if it doesn’t affect how I feel about a film.

  • theo

    Correction….”all that REALLY matters to YOU.” It could be factual or not, but that alone doesn’t automatically make the film good. Just because it’s 100% accurate on science doesn’t mean it’s gonna be entertaining. The film could just as easily been boring or confusing to some, Because of bad writing (not saying it was). But “I” don’t normally go to the theater to watch a sci-fi flick, to take lessons on space and its travels. That’s mainly what the discovery Channel is for. “I” normally go for entertainment (2001 Space Odyssey, Star Trek, Alien, Serenity, Prometheus, Gravity, etc.)

    …and it’s not just me…. it’s many others that feel the same way as well. Probably more than less, that just want to sit through an awesome sci-fi…. and not some boring science lesson pointing out all the facts.
    In film…..all that REALLY matters is if the movie is good or not. Facts are great and all in sci-fi, but a good film is usually better.

  • Derek McFarland

    I loathe movie nitpickers. I have a couple of friends that I no longer watch science fiction movies with, Because of their anal retentive complaints on the smallest parts of the movie, that isn’t ” realistic enough” by their standards. (What movie is, for crying out loud?) It’s a damn movie, with actors and green screens, not astronauts in space. At least they try to get things as right as they can. No movie is going to be 100% perfect; especially a science fiction movie. Star Wars movies must really piss off some of these nitpicking cupcakes.

  • pcch7

    I couldn’t care less really if it’s scientifically sound or not. The best sci-fi movie for a very long time is Sunshine and I’m sure the science in terms of kick-starting the sun doesn’t add up but that doesn’t matter to me. Interstellar’s biggest problems lie elsewhere imo, the sound mix being a big one.

  • Bandit Manatee

    I’m no scientist but I feel that clearly dramatic and artistic license was taken with both Gravity and Interstellar. I am not sure one is more realistic than the other. I think Interstellar might be a little smarter with how it uses the science in that it plays more in the area of the unknown, but both movies I think are pretty successful in keeping a realistic feel.

  • Hence why he states that he will not give an opinion on the film. He’s not judging the entertainment value, there are an abundance of reviewers out there for that.

    He’s piggybacking on the popularity of films to discuss science with people who would otherwise be disinterested. Which takes nothing away from the film.

  • I don’t want to rant too much, so this’ll be it. I don’t understand why this conversation is so defensive, as though scientists are coming in and ruining film. If you enjoyed it, how does this take away from your enjoyment? If an historian says a historical epic didn’t stick to the real events, I don’t change my opinion of that film.

  • Theo

    Exactly….. W.G.A.F.?

  • Reed Farrington

    Intellectual stimulation increases my appreciation and enjoyment of a film.