The casemate on a journey through space-time with Cult Interstellar Evening | ECHO SCIENCES

On 30 June 2022 from 20.30 La Casemate arranged its third cult evening! On this occasion, participants donned their astronaut suits and explored the many dimensions of one of Christopher Nolan’s key works, Interstellar.

Released in 2014, Interstellar is a foray into the limits of the flow of time, but also a fiction that features a humanity in search of solutions in the face of a doomed Earth. The film has been regularly praised for its scientific verisimilitude, ensured during writing by the guidance of physicist and Nobel laureate Kip Thorne. But what about the experts invited to speak during the evening?

Could you be an astronaut?

Thirty people attended the event. But before they could fly into space, they had to pass an astronaut test! Described by Tim Peake in his book “Astronaut Goals – in 100 tests and exercises”, it was a question of testing one of the skills necessary for these space professionals: spatial visualization… Mentally visualize a cube of which the one of the faces presents a point, then follow the movement of this cube in space while remaining focused on the position of the point: do you feel able to? A handful of people managed to find the solution. They could therefore, like astronauts, orient themselves in a weightless environment, where the notions of up, down, left and right are absolutely relative! Of course, this is not the only skill needed to become an astronaut! The 80 candidates still in the running for the position offered at the end of 2022 by the European Space Agency know this better than anyone!

Is the collapse for tomorrow?

“Go not obediently into this sweet night”. Interstellar is not just a space odyssey. Between a food and agricultural crisis, sandstorms, the film outlines a dark future for humanity. A strange relationship to the truth is at play here, where the need to promote agricultural careers pushes the school to teach that the Apollo missions were hoaxes. A form of technological sobriety drove NASA underground. All this for 2067. But is the collapse really for tomorrow?

Nicolas Géraud is an independent political scientist and sociologist of collapse. Among other things, he has created Café Collaps’ in Grenoble, workshops, debates or meetings, to approach collapseology in a scientific and skeptical way. It also proposed, in collaboration with the Le Club cinema in Grenoble, the REC-If festival dedicated to stories of the collapse.

Under Nicolas’ gaze, the world of Interstellar finally turns out to be close to ours. Unlike Minority Report, there are very few gadgets or technological advances here that mark a break with the world we know. With TARS and CASE, the anthropomorphic droid fantasy is surely forgotten. The Earth is in the grip of a climate crisis that everyone has recomposed their daily lives to show adaptation. In this crumbling world, truth has weathered and humanity is focused on survival. This is a scenario that seems plausible, even more so in light of recent climatic events…

But the credibility of this world quickly stops for our speaker! The film actually shows the breach of the service that nature provides to humans with a massive return to agriculture that was supposed to ensure the supply of food. But the breakdown is not total, and the film slides little by little towards a spatial fresco in which the figure of Cooper is central. Hero à la Maverick or à la Ulysse, depending on the references, he ushers in his wake an entire humanity against the stars for its protection. An unlikely outcome…

Meeting Gargantua, a dive into the physics of Interstellar

From traversing the wormhole to time dilation, manipulating gravity or discovering a tesseract hidden in the heart of the black hole Gargantua, Interstellar is like a journey through space-time. Pure fruit of Christopher Nolan’s imagination or faithful reflection of the concepts of modern physics?

Richard Taillet is a teacher at the University of Savoie Mont Blanc, director of UFR Sciences et Montagne, researcher at the Annecy Laboratory of Theoretical Physics (LAPTh) in the astrophysics and cosmology team. He was able to give us some keys…

To write Interstellar and produce certain special effects, Christopher Nolan relied on the advice of Kip Thorne, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017. Certain images, such as the image of the black hole, therefore happen to be quite realistic. Others, on the other hand, come straight out of Nolan’s interpretation and imagination, as is the case with Cooper’s experience in the Tesseract!

In this part of the film, gravity works through spacetime. Doctor Brand is also trying to solve a gravity equation to master it. In reality, we cannot change the laws of gravity, but we can imagine understanding it better to take advantage of it and develop new technologies. From there to communicating through space-time we are still a long way off…

Miller, Edmunds, Mann… does an ideal (exo) planet exist?

Twelve Lazare missions, launched against twelve planets to check their habitability. And among them three promising planets: Miller’s planet-ocean, Professor Mann’s frozen world of ammonia clouds and the planet Edmunds… Do such worlds really exist? Is there a planet B, the only hope for a doomed humanity? What would she look like?

Our specialist of the day, Romane Le Gal, is assistant astronomer at the Observatory of Sciences in the Universe of Grenoble (OSUG-IPAG/IRAM/UGA). She is interested in the physicochemical evolution of stellar nurseries up to the formation of planetary systems.

An exoplanet is any planet outside the solar system. In reality, exoplanets are discovered using three methods: the direct observation method, the transit method, and the radial velocity method. The technological advances of recent decades make it possible to discover more and more! Since the very first discovery in 1995, scientists have counted more than 5000 and are poised to discover many more thanks to future missions and tools such as the James Webb Telescope (Nasa/ESA).

The next steps for scientists will be to understand these planets better and detect markers that would indicate the potential for them to be habitable…which doesn’t mean they are inhabited!

Interstellar’s fiction is far from reality! In our case, the closest planet, Proxima Centauri b, is just over 4 light years away… at Voyager I’s speed, it would take 60 thousand years to reach it! We should therefore already be able to develop the famous hibernation systems for astronauts and vehicles capable of a lot of autonomy and remote communication, very remote…

Interventions… and games!

During a worship evening, we learn a lot thanks to the intervention of the experts, but we are also active! Moments of games are offered to punctuate the evening. This time, participants could test their musical knowledge by finding the names of songs that evoke space and of films whose music was composed by the great Hans Zimmer, often requested by Christopher Nolan.

The quiz allowed everyone to remember the most important elements of the film and find some other films produced by Nolan.

Did you know that the climate and agricultural crisis affecting the world in Interstellar is inspired by a real event? Which do you think?

  • supplies of sand from the Sahara in southern Europe
  • by “Dust Bowl”
  • of the Krakatoa eruption
  • of the Galveston cyclone

Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard of the Dust Bowl! This region of the United States, located at the junction of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas, was hit by a phenomenon of drought and a series of dust storms in the 1930s. These events were an ecological and agricultural disaster.

The evening in video


Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, to Instant Sciences and to the partners of Cult’ Evenings: La Rotonde, Le Dôme, Kimyo.

What are cult evenings?

Presented by the Science Animation association, Cult’ Evenings are lively and cozy evenings where you meet experts to decipher current flagship series, films or video games. To be kept informed about the next evenings, subscribe to the La Casemate newsletter! (At the foot of the website

Instants Cult’: an Instagram account for deciphering pop culture

Launched in October 2020 by Science Animation, the Instants Cult (@instantscult) account deciphers series, movies, video games every day to explore the universe, learn incredible things and play with your favorite works.

Leave a Comment