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Published June 2015 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

Visualizing Interstellar's Wormhole


Christopher Nolan's science fiction movie Interstellar offers a variety of opportunities for students in elementary courses on general relativity theory. This paper describes such opportunities, including: (i) At the motivational level, the manner in which elementary relativity concepts underlie the wormhole visualizations seen in the movie; (ii) At the briefest computational level, instructive calculations with simple but intriguing wormhole metrics, including, e.g., constructing embedding diagrams for the three-parameter wormhole that was used by our visual effects team and Christopher Nolan in scoping out possible wormhole geometries for the movie; (iii) Combining the proper reference frame of a camera with solutions of the geodesic equation, to construct a light-ray-tracing map backward in time from a camera's local sky to a wormhole's two celestial spheres; (iv) Implementing this map, for example, in Mathematica, Maple or Matlab, and using that implementation to construct images of what a camera sees when near or inside a wormhole; (v) With the student's implementation, exploring how the wormhole's three parameters influence what the camera sees—which is precisely how Christopher Nolan, using our implementation, chose the parameters for Interstellar's wormhole; (vi) Using the student's implementation, exploring the wormhole's Einstein ring and particularly the peculiar motions of star images near the ring, and exploring what it looks like to travel through a wormhole.

Additional Information

© 2015 Author(s). All article content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Received 27 November 2014 Accepted 24 March 2015. For extensive advice on our wormhole visualizations, the authors thank Christopher Nolan. For contributions to DNGR and its wormhole applications, the authors thank members of the Double Negative R&D team Sylvan Dieckmann, Simon Pabst, Shane Christopher, Paul-George Roberts, and Damien Maupu; and also Double Negative artists Zoe Lord, Fabio Zangla, Iacopo di Luigi, Finella Fan, Tristan Myles, Stephen Tew, and Peter Howlett. The construction of our code DNGR was funded by Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., for generating visual effects for the movie Interstellar. The authors thank Warner Bros. for authorizing this code's additional use for scientific research and physics education, and in particular the work reported in this paper.

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Published - 1.4916949.pdf

Submitted - 1502.03809v3.pdf


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