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Emily Suess

Academy Award-Winning Interstellar Visuals Prototyped with the Wolfram Language

February 26, 2016 — Emily Suess, Technical Writer, Technical Communications and Strategy Group

Kip Thorne, physicist, New York Times bestselling author, and professor emeritus at Caltech, ignited fans’ passion for science through his work on the movie Interstellar. The sci-fi adventure won the 2015 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and the first cuts of some of those stunning visuals were created with Mathematica and the Wolfram Language.

“Mathematica was my way of testing whether or not I had the equations right,” says Thorne, whose computational approach to producing images led to publication in the American Journal of Physics and Classical and Quantum Gravity.

Gravitational lensing of the Prawn Nebula by a black hole
Gravitational lensing of the Prawn Nebula by a black hole, computed with Mathematica by Kip Thorne. Photograph of unlensed Prawn Nebula by Martin Pugh.

Thorne has a history with Wolfram technologies that reaches beyond Interstellar. During his early career, he did all his programming in Fortran. But when Mathematica came along, he quickly switched over. By the 1990s, Mathematica was his go-to tool for numerical work and manipulations.

He also used Mathematica to help generate many of the illustrations in his book, The Science of Interstellar. Written for a general audience, the book contains more than 50 illustrations generated with the assistance of Mathematica. It spent five weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list and piqued moviegoers’ interest in science and physics.

For more on this story, read Creating Academy Award-Winning Visuals Starts with Mathematica and the Wolfram Language.

You can view other Wolfram Language stories on our Customer Stories pages.

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One Comment


Wow, that’s so cool. What is that? It looks like the galaxy of stars or something. Nice

Posted by Miro    March 23, 2016 at 6:21 pm

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