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Posts Tagged ‘4D

Interstellar: Time Travel Climax explained

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Saw Interstellar last night; another one of the notebook movies. I call them notebook movies as you have to sit with a notebook and pen to understand the mind-bending concepts.

I liked the movie overall which has a repeat value for me on the entertainment quotient alone. First half is a bit lazy as it unfolds, but second half is an edge of a seat journey.

This movie is based on scientific nuances of Time Travel, Wormholes, Black holes, which humans know in theory but are yet to corroborate by experiencing physically. It contains directors take on such concepts. In the process it fringes on the boundaries of present scientific knowledge. Hence explanation of entire movie within the layman notion of science might not be entirely possible. However I will relate what I make of it. This post deals with the Time Travel Climax of the movie and the confusion thereof.

Let me call Two Coopers as Cooper farmer (who lives with child Murph) and Cooper bookcase (who went into the blackhole and emerged into the bookcase). Cooper bookcase gave Cooper farmer the coordinates to the NASA facility. Cooper farmer could not have gone to NASA and eventually become Cooper bookcase without knowing these coordinates. How did Cooper (any one of the two) come to know the coordinates in the first place? Someone other than Cooper would have told them right? How does the knowledge of coordinates become self sustaining? Cooper told Cooper, but who told Cooper?

This deals with the concept beyond what humans have experienced physically. The 4th dimension of Time. Post Miller mishap, a desperate Cooper asks Amelia, “Can’t we go back to past, change something to save people?” And Amelia replies, “Time flows in one direction. We can’t change what has already happened”. Her reply was perfect as far as our 3D world goes. But when Time becomes a dimension, we can travel though time too.

Just like we travel in 1D (ants moving in a single line), 2D (cockroach crawling the floor), 3D (insect flying in the room), we can travel through time in 4D (where 4th dimension is Time). In 1D, we can move back and forth on the line; in 2D we can crawl in any direction on the floor and in 3D we can fly in any direction in space. Similarly we can move in any direction in time.

Here comes the catch. Since we have understanding of just 3D world, we start asking questions about, “What will happen if someone goes in the past and kills his grandfather, thereby erasing his own birth?”, Or in the movie’s case, “The Cooper farmer got the coordinates from Cooper bookcase and went to NASA and ultimately reached the bookcase from where he relayed back the coordinates. How?”

Various scientists have tried to explain the Grandfather paradox from the 3D understanding,

  • “A new timeline will emerge when he kills his Grandfather, a parallel universe”, Or
  • “We can’t change anything. What will happen, has already happened. The rules of dimension make sure of it”.

Since we have never experienced the 4th Dimension of time, whatever science of today tells are mere guesses. Researched Guesses to be exact. But still guesses.

As I see in 3D, we can move from one 2D plane to another 2D plane, which would be mind-bending to a person who lives in 2D. Similarly in 4D, we can move through time, front and back. In fact past-present-future all exist simultaneously (don’t think of them as existing at the same time. Time has become a dimension now, not just a measure of past-present-future). The concept of PPP is no more in 4D. Hence Cooper bookcase and Cooper farmer can come to know of coordinate from each other as they both exist simultaneously in 4D.

Since time is not uni-directional in 4D, to think that Cooper bookcase came to know of coordinates only coz he was Cooper farmer in the past is wrong. It’s not Past-Preset-Future but Future-Past-Preset, Present-Future-Past anything. The only fact is that both Coopers has to come to know of the coordinates somehow. Information in 4D does not flow from Father to Son, but can be Son to Father too. In either direction.

Bookcase Cooper does not depend on existence of Farmer Cooper as time is not longer linear (Amelia was hence wrong). Bookcase Cooper came to realize this in Tesseract where he saw the entire timeline of the Murphs room all at once. Initially he tries to stop Cooper farmer by asking Murph to make him STAY. But he realizes it’s futile as laws of 4th Dimension are not allowing it.

What Nolan has portrayed is a 4th Dimension with a closed loop explanation, which says nothing can change. Cooper bookcase can tell anything to Cooper farmer; still he will end up in the bookcase. When he says “Stay”, Cooper farmer ignores the message, whereas he easily believes in Gravitational anomaly message from Cooper bookcase. Rules of universe made sure of it.

Similar is the explanation as to how future humans survived in the first place to be able to put wormhole to attempt saving past humans.

If and When humans conquer the 4D, they may find this explanation to be entirely wrong. Something we have never thought of could be the reality in 4D. Till then we are free to throw off our own hunches and punches just like Nolan has done.


Written by arpitgarg

November 10, 2014 at 6:54 pm

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