But the movie doesn’t deserve any prizes for its drive-by muddling of Dr. Hawking’s scientific work, leaving viewers in the dark about exactly why he is so famous. Instead of showing how he undermined traditional notions of space and time, it panders to religious sensibilities about what his work does or does not say about the existence of God, which in fact is very little. ...Bad history, but I am sure that it would be bad physics either way. No one has shown that 3D space is an illusion. Hawking radiation from black holes has not been observed, and probably won't be. And he won't get that Nobel prize. (Possibly he might get some credit from some analogous radiation that is not from black holes, but I doubt it.) No we do not live in a hologram just because some funny stuff happens on the event horizon of a black hole.
But when it came to science, I couldn’t help gnashing my teeth after all. Forget for a moment that early in the story the characters are sitting in a seminar in London talking about black holes, the bottomless gravitational abysses from which not even light can escape, years before that term had been coined. Sadly, a few anachronisms are probably inevitable in a popular account of such an arcane field as astrophysics.
It gets worse, though. Skip a few scenes and years ahead. Dr. Hawking, getting ready for bed, is staring at glowing coals in the fireplace and has a vision of black holes fizzing and leaking heat.
The next thing we know he is telling an audience in an Oxford lecture hall that black holes, contrary to legend and previous theory, are not forever, but will leak particles, shrink and eventually explode, before a crank moderator declares the session over, calling the notion “rubbish.”
The prediction of Hawking radiation, as it is called, is his greatest achievement, the one he is most likely to get a Nobel Prize for. But it didn’t happen with a moment of inspiration staring at a fireplace. And in telling the story this way, the producers have cheated themselves out of what was arguably the most dramatic moment in his scientific career. ...
His discovery has turned out to be a big, big deal, because it implies, among other things, that three-dimensional space is an illusion. Do we live in a hologram, like the picture on a credit card? Or the Matrix?
None of this, alas, is in the movie. That is more than bad history.
Meanwhile, Sean M. Carroll raves about a new movie:
I haven’t seen it yet myself, nor do I know any secret scoop, but there’s good reason to believe that this film will have some of the most realistic physics of any recent blockbuster we’ve seen. ...I should reserve judgment until I see the movie. It will probably be entertaining. But if the plot uses wormholes for Earthlings to escape global warming and colonize another planet, then I would not call it realistic physics.
Kip recognized that a wormhole was what was called for, but also realized that any form of faster-than-light travel had the possibility of leading to travel backwards in time. Thus was the entire field of wormhole time travel born. ...
I know that Kip has been very closely involved with the script as the film has developed, and he’s done his darnedest to make sure the science is right, or at least plausible. (We don’t actually whether wormholes are allowed by the laws of physics, but we don’t know that they’re not allowed.) ...
And that’s not all! Kip has a book coming out on the science behind the movie, which I’m sure will be fantastic. And there is also a documentary on “The Science of Interstellar” that will be shown on TV, in which I play a tiny part.
Update: Interstellar has some great reviews, but the Bad Astronomer hated the silly and nonsensical physics plot (relativity, black hole, wormhole).