Focusing on the core astrophysics behind the film's premise, guest scientist Gorjian provides a breakdown of the cosmic phenomenon known as the black hole.
“A black hole occurs when you have a lot of mass and a very little volume,” he says. “There are many ways to make a black hole, but the most common cause in our part of the universe is exploding stars.”
As Gorjian explains, the escape velocity required to pull away from a black hole is so titanic that it exceeds the speed of light.
“No light escapes it, it's black,” he says “If we could wave a wand and compress our sun to a sufficiently small size, it would become a black hole.”
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Understanding the basics on black holes can help viewers appreciate the film's central premise of a wormhole, Gorjian says. In science fiction — and certain arcane branches of theoretical physics — wormholes are cosmic portals that fling matter and energy across vast distance of time and space.
“Wormholes, that was something that was conjectured by Einstein, originally,” Gorjian says. “He and another scientist named Rosen came up with the idea and it's technically called an Einstein-Rosen bridge.”
Tune in for this week's episode for more details on escape velocity, time dilation, and gravity wells. The knowledge may come in handy soon, too. In the last scenes of Interstellar, Nolan follows his blockbuster instincts and sets us up for a potential sequel. Might we suggest: Interstellar 2: Interstellarer. That thing will write itself!