Travel to a Black Hole’s Edge and a Far Future Where Humans Are Just the Same

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[intro]No invention was born outside the mind of man. So, every once in awhile, it’s worth mining a few sci-fi visions for the dark, twisted, unexpected, hopeful, or inspiring.[/intro]

Astrophysicist Kip Thorne—whose book on black holes sits on my shelf—recently teamed up with director Christopher Nolan of Dark Knight fame to build the perfect CGI black hole for the film, Interstellar­. As we’ve never directly observed a black hole, the team had to construct their visualization from Einstein’s equations, as solved by Thorne.

They say it’s as accurate a depiction as has ever appeared on the silver screen.

Thorne, who had only ever viewed a black hole and its attendant gravitational lensing in his equations, described the the first time he saw the simulation,“I saw this disc wrap up over the black hole and under the black hole. I’d known it intellectually—but knowing it intellectually is completely different than seeing it, than feeling it.”

A physicist’s equations inspire and underpin a computer-generated visual—and the subsequent creation is sufficiently breathtaking to awe him in return. The power of science, art, and technology all in one roiling, relativistic bundle of sci-fi goodness.

From hard sci-fi to something a little more human.

Into Dusk is a short film by Jason Ho. This one is cool, if only by demonstrating how much world building you can do with a blue screen and a few details. The action plays out in front of a window—needle-like skyscrapers pierce the skyline in the distance. Personal flying machines form midair freeways. A rime of ice frosts the window’s edges.

How high are we?

Inside the room, a collection of technology suggests a level beyond today’s capability. A woman is hooked up to some kind of life support machine, cables entering her chest Matrix-like. But this isn’t a hospital. Is it her home? A paid auto-care facility? Her partner jams a card into the machine to refill his (and her) credit, like a carnival ride.

The details themselves—medical technology that’s more invasive, not less, and flying cars—evoke a future that isn’t suggested by today’s technological trends. But the film also poses a different question: Will the things that make us human change drastically in the future, or will they essentially stay the same, as they have throughout history?

Into Dusk clearly chooses the latter by liberally employing close-ups of hands and eyes, visceral sounds of water and wet cloth on skin. A smoking man taking care of his ailing lover. Stroking her forehead, he throws a gun in a bag and exits the room to…do what?

Probably something desperate.

Image Credit: Jason Ho/Into Dusk/Vimeo

Jason is managing editor of Singularity Hub. He cut his teeth doing research and writing about finance and economics before moving on to science, technology, and the future. He is curious about pretty much everything, and sad he'll only ever know a tiny fraction of it all.