Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s film, is a future story of astronauts who leave a failing Earth in the hope of settling in Saturn and traveling to another galaxy through a wormhole. It is a treat to watch if your preference is for the movie to impress your heart but if your preference is to get your mind stimulated and your curiosity satisfied, this movie might raise more questions than the answers. Despite being labelled as a movie that is closest to reality, the scientific reasoning applied in the movie is laughably wrong.
The scientific flaws of the movie regarding its key points, such as orbital mechanics, astrophysics, and planetary science have been pointed out by many already. While it has been argued that scientific errors should not hinder the impact of a great story as the movie was made for entertainment and not for explaining the already existing scientific facts, it is still heavily criticized for portraying fictitious scientific theories as close to reality. For starters, the movie absurdly portrays interstellar travel as ridiculously easy while also highlighting how impossible it is to attain in reality. This paradox emerges from the movie’s central plot that a wormhole can allow instantaneous interstellar travel if traversed. In reality, this idea was popularized in 1935 by Albert Einstein but since then wormholes have been limited in their exposure to fiction movies only. According to what the movie implies, if one end of the wormhole is placed at Saturn’s orbit and the other in the center of the galaxy, intergalactic travel happens in a few minutes, whereas, even light itself takes 5 million years to travel in a round journey. Apart from some speculative equations, there is no proper evidence in reality that wormholes actually exist. Manipulating them for travelling at impossible speeds is a complete fiction by these standards.
Furthermore, the voyagers pay a visit to a galaxy that orbits the black hole as well as has possibly habitable planets. In reality, the idea of habitable planets around a black hole is very far-fetched and unrealistic as the entire system would be completely unstable and might even be consumed by the black hole. Also, the movie shows that there are extremely high tides on that planet, despite the water being very shallow. The cause of the high tides is unknown, and if it is the black hole, a pull this intense should manifest in more destructive ways throughout the planet apart from the extremely high waves.
Another evident flaw in the movie is that the crew of the Endurance experiences headaches in an attempt to reach Miller’s planet as the spaceship is controlled by a gigantic black hole, Gargantua. In order to avoid the huge gravitational force and to escape being sucked into the black hole, extremely high speed was required from the space craft. In the movie, Cooper catapulted around the black hole to avoid the gravitational pull. In reality, the Endurance would have to travel faster than the speed of light to achieve this and then immediately slow down to be able to land safely on the planet. This sudden and extreme change in speed would rip the ship into pieces in reality.
As for the survival on the planet itself, there has to be a presence of some light source, such as a star. This was not mentioned in the movie regarding Edmund’s planet. Yet, the planet is lit for the entire span of the movie. There are two high tides in a day in the movie, and during one of them it has to be night, according to the tidal calendar. So there either has to be another star nearby which was not shown or the movie is scientifically flawed here. Yet another scientific flaw is that Miller’s planet was time-dilated even though the effects of gravity on humans were minimal. When time is squeezed, space has to squeeze too, but the movie failed to portray this.
The planet that they ended up colonizing did not appear to have any water or plants from the looks of it as nothing like it was shown in the movie. The mere implication that they chose that planet to colonize seems to be enough for the director to suggest the presence of water on the planet. It was implied by the movie that humans would colonize the planet and survive effectively without paying any heed to the fact that even if there was any vegetation on the planet it would have been inedible for normal humans. This is because our bodies have particular enzymes that can digest only the food on Earth that contains specific digestible amino acid patterns. Also, the crew does not seem to possess the required technology to grow digestible plants.
As for the second planet they voyaged to, Dr. Mann’s helmet ruptures in three of the crashes due to ice clouds. Space suits and helmets have a hard reinforced glass to counter all such conditions, otherwise space exploration would not even have been possible. It is absurd to show that the helmet crashed in clouds made of ice. Furthermore, Coop breathes in ammonia for more than a minute and continues to pilot the ship as if nothing happened. In reality, even if ammonia is inhaled for a second, it leaves one extremely disoriented and dizzy. Also, originally it was portrayed that Mann’s planet did not have any oxygen, but when there was an explosion, the fire kept burning in the outside environment which would not have been possible without oxygen.
Lastly, upon discovering the sterility of Miller’s planet, Brand declares that evolution is based upon accidents. He says that evolution did not take place on this planet because comets did not get a chance to land there due to the huge gravitational pull of Gargantua. This was based on the premise that life on Earth was seeded by comets as they carried the required water and amino acids. However, this seems implausible in terms of real scientific facts as a centrifugal force is produced by all comets and gives them a sturdy angular momentum, which is why they could easily make way to this planet if they had to.