There are still many things we don't know about Interstellar, but a new app hints at some of the film's science and scope.
Paramount Pictures has just released a new Interstellar app that can be played on phones, tablets and through the Chrome browser and lets players design and customize their own solar systems, complete with planets, moons, asteroids and other celestial objects. You can also pilot the ship from the movie, called the Endurance, to other systems designed by other players via gravitational slingshots or wormholes.
The app uses realistic physics as conceptualized by Kip Thorne, the esteemed theoretical physicist who serves as a scientific advisor and executive producer on the movie. The exploration aspect of the game depends on two factors that would be important in real-life interstellar travel: Gravity, which can used to slingshot around a given system's sun and planets to reduce the use of fuel, and fuel itself, which players must try to conserve while seeing how far they can journey. Another challenge is to try and see how far you can travel while still remaining relatively close to Earth in terms of time.
I'm not really much of a game player or app user, but since I am very interested in Interstellar I couldn't resist giving this a try. While I found the game to be a bit confusing in some ways (particularly when it came to piloting the Endurance), that could well be due to my own lack of gaming experience as well as the design of the app itself.
What I did find fascinating and even a little addictive was the system-designing aspect of the game. Building planets and moons and positioning them in orbit around a star was a lot of fun, and I intend to return and see if I can begin exploring systems designed by other users as they go live.
The best part of it all is that the app is intelligent and based in real astrophysics; it uses real science in a way that suggests Interstellar is going to be a genuine hard sci-fi film -- which is something that I suspect many of us are longing to see on the screen again.
The game can be played in-browser here or downloaded for free at the Chrome store and Google Play store. Directed by Christopher Nolan, Interstellar opens on Nov. 7 and stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, John Lithgow, Ellen Burstyn and many others.