First thing first: let’s accept that ‘Interstellar’ is not perfect, and neither is it trying to be (as I write in my review here). It uses the science of interstellar travel, relativity, blackholes, wormholes and fifth dimension as a tool to tell an emotional father-daughter story.  So, expecting ‘Interstellar’ to be 100% scientifically accurate is not only foolhardy, but also, not the right way to watch the film. In fact, many of the theories that ‘Interstellar’ uses, haven’t yet been proved; so it’s virtually impossible to portray them on-screen. Having said that, it doesn’t mean whatever ‘Interstellar’ deals in is all bullshit. In fact, far from it. After all, there’s method behind all the madness that you see in Interstellar. So, let’s tackle it one by one.

What’s Plan ‘A’ and Plan ‘B’ ?

Early on in the film we find out that NASA is working on a plan to have humanity leave the earth in the face of impending catastrophe. The scientists have also learned that an unknown civilization (referred to as “they”, read below) have put created/put a wormhole near Saturn (read about wormholes below). The scientists have also found out after sending a number of expeditions in space that there are three habitable planets in another galaxy. They have named the planets after the explorers who went in search for them: Miller, Mann, Edmunds. And therefore, to understand which out of three planets is actually habitable, they are planning to send a team of scientists (Endurance) to these planets. Meanwhile, professor Brand (Michael Caine) himself has been working to solve a quantum equation for last several years that will solve the riddle of space, time and gravity.

Plan ‘A’ : During the time Endurance will be on its interstellar voyage, Dr. Brand will continue working on the equation, which if solved, will allow them to figure out all the five dimensions including gravity. After which, their plan is to carry all the remaining population of earth in a massive space station to whatever the most habitable planet is.

Plan ‘B’: If Dr. Brand fails to solve the equation, they have a fallback option. NASA have harvested a bank of fertilized embryos which will be carried by the the Endurance team on their interstellar voayage, and in case the Earth gets destroyed, they will raise the next generation of humanity in a planet that they find most habitable.

Later in the film, Dr. Brand will reveal that Plan ‘A’ was never possible. To completely solve the equation he would have needed data from the center of black hole, which was impossible to get, and hence the whole plan was a lie.

Warmholes and how do they work ?

I think the film does a good job explaining the concept of wormholes in a very short and sweet way. One of scientists, Romilly, explains it pretty well using a paper and pencil; and it is precisely the concept of wormholes. It is shortcut in space-time. So, what would take light years to reach in space if followed the normal route, can be reached in a matter of minutes/hours/days through wormholes. Obviously, no wormholes have been discovered yet, but wormholes were always the part of solutions to the Einstein’s field equations for gravity.  Anyway, in the movie, the group of scientists use the wormhole (which initially scientists think has been put near Saturn by aliens) to reach to another galaxy where the three planets with life potential exist.

Black holes and compressing of time

Black holes are regions of spacetime from which gravity prevents anything, including light, from escaping” That’s the wikipedia definition of Black holes. In short, a place where gravity is excessively strong. So, strong that it even dilates time. The first planet, Miller, that Endurance team visits, has one hour on its surface correspond to seven years on earth. It is because, as mentioned in the film, Miller is located very close to a black hole called Gargantua, and hence time moves much slower on Miller than on Earth.

Who are “they” ?

Initially, NASA scientists think “they” to be some extraterrestrial aliens, who are advanced enough to have figured out the five dimensions and hence, can manipulate space and time, and for some unknown reason are also willing to help humans escape the doomed earth. NASA scientists also believe it is “they” who have placed the wormhole close to Saturn so that humans can use that as shortcut to other habitable planets. It is only in the final act of the film, when Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) falls into the blackhole to finally find himself in a Tesseract, does he realize that “they” are not aliens but actually future humans. The future humans, who have mastered laws of universe — space, time and gravity. It is the future humans, too, who constructed the Tesseract for Cooper to communicate with his daughter, and hence, save humans in the past. The implication here is that future humans are trying to save humanity so that they themselves can exist. (I understand, this is slightly ridiculing, since, future humans exist because someone in past was able to survive. It is kind of never ending loop).

Fifth Dimension and the ending

The most “difficult to understand” part of the film is Tesseract, or the cubic prism where Cooper finds himself after his spaceship gets destroyed inside the blackhole. Basically, it’s a three dimensional representation of the five dimensional space. And as already mentioned above, this Tesseract was created by future humans so that Cooper could communicate the data about singularity (center of blackhole) to his daughter, Murph (Jessica Chastain), so that she could solve the quantum equation. So, what is fifth dimension, and why is it important to understand ? Let’s dive in.

So, as we all know, we live in a three dimensional space. As per Einstein, and his theory of relativity, time can be considered as the 4th dimension. If you studied maths and graphs, you will remember, that on a two dimensional graph we represent the two dimensions with axis x and y. Also, to represent space, we must have a third axis z. With the three axes: x, y, z we represent the 3D space. Now, imagine this three dimensional space across a fourth dimension: time. So, what we are saying is, just like in a 2D graph for a constant x, we can go up and down the values of y; similarly, in a 4D space for a constant x, y and z we can go up and down the 4th dimension, that is time. That’s why and how theory of relativity supports time-travel.

Now, imagine a 4D space across a fifth dimension where gravity can, too, be controlled. Cooper falls, or is rather brought by future humans into this five dimensional space because:

1st: In a 5D space, he can traverse across time, and
2nd: Since gravity, too, is a variable entity in 5D Space, he can use gravity to communicate to his daughter the quantum data that was needed to solve the equation.

And that’s exactly what Cooper does. He time-travels to his past, and uses gravity to move hands of the Murph’s watch  to communicate the data to Murph in Morse code. With the data that she gets from her father, Murph is able to solve the equation, which enables humans to master space, time, and gravity. In short, they could now play around with space, time and gravity. That’s why you will see, towards end of the film, the sort of world that humans have created near Saturn; a world that defies rules of gravity and space.

I hope, I was able to clear most of your doubts about ‘Interstellar’. Believe me, it is not as complicated as you think. I would seriously advise, irrespective of whether you like the film or not, to have a second go at it. I bet, you will appreciate it much more. In the meantime, if have you any further questions or doubts, write them below in comments. I will try to answer them to the best of my knowledge.

Read Interstellar’s Review right HERE.

Posted by Gautam Anand

  • 1hour on miller is equal to 7years on earth…how come this affect growth of a being?lifespan almost nearly same for every human

    • Gautam

      Yes. We have to assume that. Life Span doesn’t change. And irrespective of how fast time is moving on earth, human will age as per the absolute time.

    • Pratip

      you have to study relativity for that

  • DevD

    How did Cooper escape the tesseract?

    • Gautam

      Future humans. They created everything, so we have to assume, it is they who also found out a way for him.

  • Gopi

    I have a small doubt, When Copper in 5D, how that robot communicated to him. Where was it at that time. Radio communication is allowed in 5D…

    • Gautam

      They were talking on an extremely advance bluetooth and not radio. Robot TARS was also in the same 5D space but because of the complex nature of the whole creation, Cooper was not able to see him.

  • I would like to know how the endurance could travel over the hot gases around the black hole (just before cooper plunges into the black hole) without getting fried?

    I didn’t understand the part where cooper shakes hand with Brand? I also don’t understand why somebody yelled ‘NO!’ when brand stretched her hand for the ‘first’ handshake?

    • Gautam

      Because, black hole was created by future humans.

      Cooper was time-traveling at that instance. They yelled “No”, because they were not sure what it was.

  • Himanshu

    Hi thanks for an amazing clarification. However please help me clarify the last scene in which cooper is seen leaving for planet edmund. So from the station where all the humanity is currently present orbiting the saturn is he going to edmund to get Ms brand back at the station or the edmund planet is the final destination where all the humanity will be eventually moved?(That too why he does that so secretly)

    • Gautam

      This is a genuine question, but from what I interpreted, humans had already formed a colony near Saturn, and I don’t think they were planning to leave to Edmunds. It is only Cooper who went to Edmunds, either to save her, or live with her.

  • bhavin

    How does Cooper Stay alive after the tesseract closes? what happens during that part? how does he reach back in space where he was found by ranger?

    • Gautam

      Read to the comments above.

  • Vijay

    Why would Dr. Mann, who is supposed to be the greatest scientist to ever grace the earth, do something as stupid as send across false information about the surface of his planet just so he could have someone come rescue him? Didn’t he already know the possible consequences? “Bravest humans to ever live”…

    • Gautam

      It’s impossible to guess how will anyone react when put under such extreme circumstances. Bravest of brave men can crumble.

  • swapnil

    Nice..
    Do u brlibelive in time traval??

  • Yasvand

    So Dr.Edmund’s planet is not the final destination for life form you say ? But isn’t tat Jus a Station? Tat place where Murph (old) is shown getting treated ??How could it possibly be able to Sustain large population? And does tat mean he is gonna time travel back to the past ? Like go thru black hole knowing all the consequences?

    • Gautam

      We don’t know whether they were planning to go to Edmunds from whatever was shown in the film.

  • deprolazzo

    Just wanted to clear something up…in the end it is not a station that defies gravity..its an o’niel cyleinder and it mimics gravity using centrifugal force.

    • Gautam

      Probably. But Plan ‘A’, itself, rested on solving the equation; without which humanity won’t have been to fly or live in the space-station.

  • Why did they choose a solar system with a black hole in it ? Wouldn’t that be a bad and short term decision for humans? And did the worm hole lead only to this system with 3 possible planets or does it also lead to the other 9 that the lazarous missions talked about

    • Gautam

      Every galaxy has a black hole.

  • About Tarrs:
    How could Tarrs(robot) possibly could rotate about it’s own axis? I mean it’s certainly impossible for a single wheel to rotate about itself unless acted upon by an external force! I found this very thing impossible..

  • ranganath

    you said in the end murph created a station which defies time space and gravity ,where they are carrying last remaining population .how defies time space and gravity can you explain this.a boy with baseball hits the ball up in the air that scene

    • Gautam

      Yes.

  • Lalit

    That’s really well written and apt article. Thank you. I just had one doubt. How can one use/change gravity to move hands of a clock? Gravity is a force towards the center of a planet. So how did he move the hand forward and backward? That means he had the power to exert force in each and every direction. Why didn’t he used this power to maybe pick up a pen by applying upward force on it and then writing somewhere. Would have been easier.

    • Gautam

      Do you think for a person who just came to know that he can control gravity can pick up a pen and write ? It’s as if you asking a person who has just learnt to drive car to compete in F1.

      • Lalit

        Okay! That helped. Thanks.

    • Abhigyan

      According to Einstein’s general relativity gravity is not restricted to define it as a force towards the center of an massive object
      but it asserts as a force that results from warping of space time geometry. Massive object warps the space time geometry so we experience the force defined by us as gravity. Einstein generalizes the concept of gravity in this way. So, if we can warp space time geometry in any possible way we can generate gravity. The film is probably depicting this particular idea of Einstein.

  • Hazard

    But how can cooper control the seconds hand in murph’s watch by use of gravity ? i mean he can’t move it with the help of gravity as it acts vertically ??

    • Abhigyan

      According to general relativity of Einstein gravity is the 5th dimension of space and time. This means gravity is dependant on space and time and vice versa. All the four dimensions of space, time and gravity are interrelated in such a way that if anyone of these quantities changes for an observer than remaining others quantities will change for that observer in a way so that speed of light remains the same for that observer before and after the changes. This is the essence of Einstein’s relativity. So, if gravity can be controlled by some mean than other dimensions including time will change (i.e. from past to present or vice versa) for that observer to maintain the speed of light. Or in other words ticking of clock will be faster or slower according to the change. Ticking of clock slower or faster doesn’t mean speeding or slowing the mechanical ticking by using any force vertically or so. But slowing or speeding the time itself. Control of ticking of clock is always a common and may be a easier example or instance to present this idea in the film or any where. So, this simply mean to say or depict this extraordinary idea only.

  • Soham Deshpande

    As per grandfather paradox, we are unable to time travel in the past. How come Cooper travels back in time?
    Next is, yes I understand when you travel with a speed of light you can travel to future. But how come by controlling gravity how can you access any point of time future or past?
    Further, we know no object can survive in a black hole so when Dr Mann explains about survival instinct, is watching Murph is past is the survival instinct of Cooper? And he is actually dead?

  • Hi, first of all let me just tell you across the entire movie blogger network. Your explanation of “Interstellar” is just mind blowing and the best till date. You have explained everything in detail with the most simplest way anybody can. So a big “KUDOS”.

    Having said that you missed on a crucial aspect of the movie in this post which is about “Them”.

    Many people are still in argument as to hows its possible that if Cooper landed in the Tesseract that it was built by future humans, since the very existence of the wormhole or the artificial black hole is not possible unless the human race survives.

    So basically what Christopher Nolan missed out explaining in the end in a more simpler way is that this whole plot was based on a parallel universe where initially Plan B was successful, and there is no other alternative to that. The advance human race were able to solve Dr. Brand equation in some time and that’s how they helped this version of Humans to survive. Whats your take on this?

    • Gautam

      Thanks.

      What you are saying is one of the many interpretations. There’s a reason Nolan didn’t explain everything. He wanted to leave it open ended so that we can discuss just the way we are doing now.