From The Last Word on Nothing, by Richard Panek:


If you haven’t seen the movie Interstellar, you might not recognize the image above. It’s the black hole that figures prominently in the climax. But even if you have seen the movie, chances are excellent you still don’t know what you’re looking at. I didn’t, anyway, at least the first few days I spent staring at it.

This past summer I worked on a media project involving this fictional black hole. The project didn’t come to fruition, but I did sign a confidentiality agreement, so I don’t know how much I can reveal about it. What I can discuss, however, is the science behind the movie’s black hole, if only because part of my job was to understand it.

The movie’s director and co-screenwriter Christopher Nolan has said he wanted Interstellar to show the first true image of a black hole—what it would actually look like if you were near one. And in order to achieve that goal, he said, he would try to combine science and art.

Read the rest of the article here.


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Richard Panek

A Guggenheim Fellow in science writing, Richard Panek is most recently the author of The 4% Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality, which won the 2012 Science Communication award from the American Institute of Physics, and the co-author, with Temple Grandin, of The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, a New York Times best-seller and the recipient of the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Nonfiction Book of 2013. He also wrote the National Geographic giant-format movie Robots 3D, now playing in museum theaters across the country. His educational and professional background is in both journalism and fiction, disciplines he combines in trying to illuminate the history and philosophy of science even for readers who, like himself before he begins his research, would know little or nothing about the topic at hand.

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