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Explaining Interstellar: an FAQ Guide

Guide to the movie Interstellar. Spoiler Alert! This guide contains key plot information and you should watch the movie first before reading it.


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What happened to Edmund? » Improve Q

Edmund died before they were able to reach the planet.

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What is the gravitational formula Professor Brand was working on? » Improve Q

Professor Brand told Cooper that he has been working on formula to lift humans along with giant centrifugal earth stations, food and materials off earth with gravity. Later in the film Murphy found out that professor already knew that the formula wouldn't work long ago, and was covering it up so Cooper and team would execute the Plan B. Murphy later found that the equation could work with additional data from a black hole's singularity, which her dad Cooper later sent to her using gravitation wave to her bedroom after gathering the data by entering the black hole.

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Why did Cooper relay the 'Stay' message and the Gargantuan quantum data message in Morse code, but relay the Nasa coordinates in Binary? Couldn't he just have used Morse code for that too instead of the cumbersome binary? After all a simple set of Geographic coordinates wouldn't have even a fraction of the numbers of a Quantum equation? » Improve Q

A so-called simple set of geographic coordinates... How simply can any of us give coordinates for a point in three-dimensional space? Now consider Hawking's remonstration, when an interviewer assumed he thinks in four dimensions, that "no one can."

No human can. Computers can. And they think and speak in zeroes and ones.... And when we speak of the info related from within and about a singularity....He's giving Murph info he knows she will be using a computer to comprehend. Also, Hawking realized and proved that info does, in fact, escape from beyond the event horizon (maintaining a little thing called conservation of energy). The proof was given about a decade ago, requires an understanding of quantum mechanics, and  is called Hawking Radiation.

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How can life exist on a planet that orbits a black hole without any heat? » Improve Q

Planets can obtain heat from various stellar bodies provided they are the right distance. So bigger stars or hotter stars, will have planets in a habitable zone very far away from the star. 

In the case of a black hole, it can be surrounded by superheated gas which could 'provide' heat and light for the planets, with the caveat that they will have to orbit exceptionally close to the black hole, which was the case in the Interstellar movie.


There seems to be a bit of a heat paradox, as the closest planet orbiting the black hole 'Millers' is all water, and the second planet Manns is already so far away that it is ice, so how did they travel even further out to Edmunds and find it hospitable. Well, that they flied further out to Edmunds doesn't imply that its is the furthest planet in orbit, its was just probably at the other extreme end of the black hole in its cycle. So, Edmunds could very well have been Gargantua's second planet in terms of Cardinality. Plus it could also be that Mann's mostly ammonia atmosphere is too sparse to trap any greenhouse heat, making it frigid like our Mars. Whereas it seems Amelia could breathe the air on Edmund's so it might have an atmosphere akin to earth.

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Why does Cooper seemingly give himself conflicting instructions in the Tesseract? i) Just 'Stay' on earth and don't go for the mission, through morse ii) Then provides the Nasa coordinates anyway through binary » Improve Q

Cooper wanted his younger self, to stay on earth so that he could spend all that time with his daughter instead of missing out on her entire life after 10. He provided the coordinates anyway, probably with the intent of giving it to somebody else so that they could find the Nasa Base. Even if Cooper hadn't gone on the mission, the team would have proceeded to Edmund's Planet anyway second under the behest of Dr. Brand, after finding Miller's planet uninhabitable.

Out of the three set of graviton instructions Cooper gave himself (the last being the quantum data from the gargantua singularity). This was the only instruction that didn't take, although he probably wanted to try each time anyway.

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What are Plan A and Plan B? » Improve Q
  • Plan A: Cooper and team find an inhabitable planet, come back to earth, and hopefully professor Brand would have solved the gravitational formula by then to send all human race to said planet using gravity, in the giant space station that Cooper was visiting at NASA headquarters.
  • Plan B: In case Plan A doesn't work, fertilized human embryos stored on Cooper's space ship can be used to populate the newly found habitable planet. Plan B does mean abandoning all human on earth.
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What is Cooper Station where human settle at the end of the film? » Improve Q

Cooper Station is a space station near Saturn, named after Murphy Cooper, for her derivation of gravity solution to lift humanity out of earth.

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What happened on earth? » Improve Q

Plants were dying to disease blight, and as a result there is a shortage on food. It would later lead to shortage of oxygen.

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Who are "they"? » Improve Q

While at first it was believed to be an alien intelligence, near the end of the film, "they" are found to be the human race from the future.

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What are the 3 potentially habitable world orbiting Gargantua? » Improve Q

The three world, named after the astronaut who first landed and survey them, are:

  1. Miller: The planet is so close to black hole Gargantua that an hour spent on it would be 7 years on earth due to gravitational time dilation.
  2. Mann: Originally believed to be habitable. However upon landed, later found to be false and data was fabricated by Mann in order to lure Cooper and team to save him.
  3. Edmunds: Edmunds have been sending out successful signal but the signal has stopped.
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