I had hopes for Passengers, from Prometheus writer Jon Spaihts and The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum, because I root for science fiction films in general and because I’ve just edited a story for Air & Space/Smithsonian about research into human hibernation for long-term spaceflights, which is key to the premise of this movie. But its billion-dollar ideas are undermined by its five-cent guts, as I aver in my NPR review. Bummer.
For my day job at Air & Space / Smithsonian, I interviewed Kip Thorne, the theoretical physicist who, along with his friend the movie producer Lynda Obst, conceived the film Interstellar back in 2006. Thorne remained closely involved with the picture throughout its writing, production, and editing, and has now published a 324-page companion to the film called The Science of “Interstellar” laying out his scientific rationalization for every aspect of its story — even the Love Tesseract Wormhole.
DUH: Don’t read this interview if you intend to see Interstellar but haven’t yet.
My NPR review of Interstellar, a grand spacefaring epic I saw twice in three days and in which I am inclined to forgive many flaws. I Want to Believe, even if there’s a lot of it I just don’t.
And now for something completely different, and completely intimidating — at least initially. The current issue of Air & Space/Smithsonian magazine has my first-ever astronomy story, about the James Webb Space Telescope, the remarkable $8.8 billion dollar replacement for the aging Hubble Space Telescope.
As JWST orbits the Earth from a million miles away, its six-meter mirror of gold-coated beryllium will collect light that’s fainter, farther away, and billions of years older than we’ve ever been able to see, showing us some of the earliest objects that formed in the universe after the Big Bang. As with most of NASA’s flagship projects, JWST has taken longer and cost far more than NASA had said and Congress had hoped. It’s now set for launch in October 2018. Continue reading