Interstellar (2014) is a masterpiece of visual artistry and a well of accurate scientific information. The storyline seamlessly blends the human element with aspects of Einstein’s theory of Relativity in a fight-for-survival of the human race. This movie is standard viewing for any physics class where relativity is taught. Appropriate classes for this movie guide would be physics, astronomy, or physical science. The movie guide consists of 32 physics-related higher-order questions. There are no questions relating to the storyline or emotional arcs presented in the plot. Topics discussed include, relativity, time dilation, the fabric of space-time, spatial geometry, black holes, worm holes, singularities, event horizons, the twin’s paradox, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Newtons Third Law, gravitational pull, magnetism, multiple dimensions, higher dimensions, centripetal force, and aero braking.
The runtime is 2:25, over the course of five days. Each day consists of roughly 30-36 minutes of viewing time, leaving extra time for students to complete the questions, or facilitate classroom discussion. But when showing this to my students, I typically pause the movie at certain junctures explaining what is happening and why. The students greatly appreciate this. It lends to a deepened appreciation of the film.
Adam and Jamie apply Newton’s Third Law to see if two objects heading towards each other at 50 mph have the same kinetic energy as one car travelling into a wall at 100 mph. The rest of the team explores the numerous variables involved when attempting to knock someone out of their socks. Scientific concepts include Newton’s Third Law, kinetic energy, mass, velocity, impact force, momentum, relative motion, acceleration, g-loads, transverse momentum, impact energy distribution, elastic and inelastic collisions, friction, and inertia.
Adam and Jamie are examining the myth that wrecking balls can be used to make a Newton’s Cradle. Grant, Kari, and Tory are also testing to see whether a bird perched on a teetering car can cause it to fall over the edge. Scientific concepts include energy transfer, Newton’s Third Law, equal and opposite reactions, energy efficiency, surface deformation, elastic and inelastic collisions, potential and kinetic energy, pendulum motion, trophic levels, biology, predator prey relationships, energy flow, food webs, type 1 lever, fulcrum, pivot points, lever arms, and torque.
The Mythbusters discover if it is possible to use Gummy Bears as rocket fuel! An excellent example of the application of Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Scientific concepts include Newtons Third Law, equal and opposite reactions, rocketry, rocket design and engineering, fuel grain, liquid oxygen (LOX), controlled burn, thrust vectors, joules of energy, liquid fuel rockets, solid fuel rockets, altitude, and alternative fuel sources.
Adam and Jamie test the myth that wearing steel toed boots can actually cause toes to become amputated. This is a great segment showing the importance of safety shoes. Kari, Tory, and Grant test the myth that a person can become airborne with soda bottles strapped to their backs. This myth demonstrates the difficulty of engineering solutions and the application of Newton’s Third Law of Motion. The science topics mentioned include force, pressure, structural rigidity, structural integrity, human skeletal analogs, Newton’s Third Law, equal and opposite reactions, air pressure, thrust, water to air ratios, PSI, space shuttle Challenger disaster, and o ring failure.