Tag Archives: space

The Visually Stunning ‘Tesseract’ Scene in Interstellar was Filmed on a Physically Constructed Set

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Spoiler alert. One of the most jaw-dropping moments of Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film Interstellar is the climactic moment when Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) enters a visually stunning environment that allows him to physically communicate through time using gravity. In the movie, the scene is manifested as a small library in his home that appears to infinitely repeat with versions of every moment that has ever occurred there. Essentially it’s a cube in four dimensions. Here’s a pretty good explanation of how it works:

The Tesseract is a means of communication for the bulk beings to express action through gravity with NASA. The bulk beings can perceive five dimensions as opposed to four, able to see every moment in the past, present, and future as well as influence gravity within any of those time frames. […] The tesseract allowed Cooper to communicate with Murphy Cooper [his daughter] in various time periods, presenting time itself as a dimension rather than linear. Everything is linked by the strings of time, which Cooper can manipulate. The beings made this comprehensible to Cooper by allowing him to physically interact with the Tesseract.

The idea of the tesseract scene alone was so daunting to the filmmakers, Nolan and his special effects team procrastinated for months before trying to tackle how it might work. After months of concepting and model building the team opted for the unusual approach of using minimal digital effects in favor of fabricating a massive set which the actors could physically manipulate. A remarkable feat considering not only the complexity of the concepts depicted, but the cost and labor of building something so large.

Included here are some shots of the set, a behind-the-scenes interview with Nolan and a number of people from the visual effects team explaining how it was done, and lastly the scene itself. You can watch even more of it here. (via Fubiz)

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Fictional Images of the Universe Made From Scanning Household Items and Food by Navid Baraty

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Planet – bottom of a glass containing half and half, water, food coloring. Moons – bottom of a glass containing coconut milk, water, food coloring. Stars – salt, cinnamon, baking powder, tums

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Black hole – bottom of a glass of coffee, salt, sugar, corn starch, cinnamon

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Planet – bottom of a glass containing half and half, water, food coloring. Stars – salt, cinnamon, baking powder

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Nebula – makeup, olive oil, chalk, baby powder, salt, water

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Nebula with gas streams – cat fur, garlic powder, salt, flour, cumin, turmeric

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Distant galaxy – olive oil, sesame oil, water, cumin, cinnamon, flour

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Spiral galaxy – baking soda, curry powder, chalk, salt, sugar, cinnamon

Have you ever left the lid of a scanner open to find that the background of your image was rendered black instead of white? That, essentially, was the impetus behind photographer Navid Baraty’s latest project WANDER Space Probe. Using an Epson photo scanner, Baraty carefully positions various household items, many of which are edible, on the document table.

Cooking ingredients like baking soda, sugar and cinnamon act as distant stars and nebulas while glasses containing milk, water and food coloring create the planets. Once everything is aligned properly Baraty hits the scan button. The photographer describes his project as “Cosmic explorations of an imaginary space probe.” You can follow Baraty’s fictional space probe and its adventures into depths of the unknown on Facebook and Instagram. (via My Modern Met)

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Hubble Spots a Cluster of Galaxies That Looks like a Massive Smiley Face

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Hot on the heels of their new and improved Pillars of Creation image, NASA just published a new photo that appears to be the largest happy face in existence. The eyes alone are two different galaxies, SDSSCGB 8842.3 and SDSSCGB 8842.4, and the smile is an optical illusion caused by something called strong gravitational lensing, a phenomenon where the gravitational pull of an object is so powerful it causes spacetime to warp, effectively distorting the light around it. You can read more about it over on Hubble’s website. (via Hubble)

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NASA Releases New High-Definition View of Iconic ‘Pillars of Creation’ Photo

New view of the Pillars of Creation — visible
New view of the Pillars of Creation, visible light. NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team.

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New view of the Pillars of Creation, visible light, detail. NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team.

New view of the Pillars of Creation — infrared
New view of the Pillars of Creation, infrared light. NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team.

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2015 v. 1995 ‘Pillars of Creation’ comparison. WFC3: NASA, ESA/Hubble and the Hubble Heritage Team. WFPC2: NASA, ESA/Hubble, STScI, J. Hester and P. Scowen (Arizona State University)

One of the most iconic images ever produced by NASA is the “Pillars of Creation” photograph taken by Hubble Space Telescope in 1995. The photo depicts tall columns (called elephant trunks) of interstellar dust and gas within the Eagle Nebula about 6,500 light years from Earth. For the first time in 20 years, NASA revisited the Pillars of Creation using a new camera installed on Hubble back in 2009 capable of much higher resolutions. The new photo, including an infrared version, was published yesterday. From the NASA press release about the new image:

Now Hubble has revisited the famous pillars, capturing the multi-coloured glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust, and the rust-coloured elephants’ trunks with the newer Wide Field Camera 3, installed in 2009. The visible-light image builds on one of the most iconic astronomy images ever taken and provides astronomers with an even sharper and wider view.

In addition, NASA says that although the original photograph was titled Pillars of Creation, the newer imagery suggests the columns might also contain a fair amount of destruction:

Although the original image was dubbed the “Pillars of Creation”, this new image hints that they are also pillars of destruction. The dust and gas in these pillars is seared by intense radiation from the young stars forming within them, and eroded by strong winds from massive nearby stars. The ghostly bluish haze around the dense edges of the pillars in the visible-light view is material that is being heated by bright young stars and evaporating away.

You can see the new photo in even higher detail by downloading images at several resolutions on this page. I also spent the morning cropping a bunch of wallpapers you can download here: 1280×800, 1440×900, 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 2560×1440, 3840×2400, iPad, iPhone, iPhone 5, iPhone 6, iPhone 6+. (via Metafilter)

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The Armstrong Light Trap, a Desktop Lamp Inspired by Moon Craters

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Inspired by the pockmarked surface of the moon, Russian designer Constantin Bolimond developed this fun concept for a ceramic desktop lamp covered with corked “craters.” The intensity of the Armstrong Light Trap can be adjusted by opening or closing individual craters to reaveal the LED light inside. You can see more over on his Behance portfolio. (via Design Milk)

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Nebula Rugs and Towels by Schönstaub

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The team over at Zurich-based Schönstaub released this great series of rugs and bath towels adorned with various photos of nebulae. The the 100% cotton towels are available through their shop and the rugs appear to be made to order. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

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Clouds Cast Thousand-Mile Shadows into Space When Viewed Aboard the International Space Station

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One of six astronauts currently on board the International Space Station, geophysicist Alexander Gerst spends much of his free time staring out the window as the world zooms by 205 miles below, camera in-hand. Since arriving at the ISS in June of this year Gerst has taken tons of photographs that document hurricanes, floods, dust storms, and oil fields.

One of his favorite things to shoot are the shadows cast by clouds, something that appears surprisingly dramatic from space. Dense cloud formations can create long shadows that stretch for thousands of miles across the Earth’s surface as they eventually disappear into a black horizon. You can see new photos from Gerst daily on Twitter. (via Stellar)

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