In the movie Interstellar-

While crossing the worm hole a space-time distortion appears inside the spacecraft without affecting anything inside the spacecraft while such a distortion will be a strong source of gravitation. But the question is the spacecraft was not at rest. It was moving with relativistic velocity.

How was the distortion moving with the spacecraft?

  • 1
    "while such a distortion will be a strong source of gravitation." is this an assumption you are making, or something that was stated in the movie? If you're basing this on real-world GR, that's going to make this question off-topic. I would probably edit that bit out and just focus on the things you want explained from within the movie universe
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 2, 2015 at 19:48
  • @Michael Edenfield One will obviously look for GR, because the movie itself referring to Einstein's relativity. The movie did not created their own universe, like star treck created their new law of physics, namely, Heisenberg Compensator.
    – VacuuM
    Apr 2, 2015 at 20:26
  • 1
    I understand that... but as far as this site is concerned, any deviations from real-world physics, however small, are treated from a within-the-work perspective. If something in the movie behaves consistently with the rest of the movie but inconsistently with real GR, that's not something we typically answer on SF&F.
    – KutuluMike
    Apr 2, 2015 at 21:11
  • "It was moving with relativistic velocity" Was it? Apr 2, 2015 at 21:58

4 Answers 4


The tesseract was a piece of artificial technology built by the beings in the higher dimension (the 'bulk', as physicists term such a possible higher spatial dimension), and part of its design was to assist Cooper in communicating with people in the past. For example, when he banged on the books he saw in Murph's childhood room, it wasn't the natural gravity of his own body that caused the books to move, rather the tesseract was artificially creating gravitational waves that traveled back in time to move the corresponding book. In one example in ch. 30 of The Science of Interstellar by physicist Kip Thorne, we see that the tesseract continues to generate a repeated message on Murph's watch via gravitational waves affecting its hands, even though Cooper only actually sent the message once, making clear that this isn't just a matter of his body's gravity field directly affecting the watch:

By the time Cooper has received the quantum data from TARS, he has mastered this means of communication. In the movie we see him pushing with his finger on the world tube of a watch's second hand. His pushes produce a backwards-in-time gravitational force, which makes the second hand twitch in a Morse-encoded pattern that carries the quantum data. The tesseract stores the twitching pattern in the bulk so it repeats over and over again.

Since the tesseract is artificially helping him communicate, and is either taking him to people the higher-dimensional beings want him to communicate with or reading his thoughts about who he wants to see, it shouldn't be any problem for it to match speeds with the ship that Amelia Brand is riding in (as Liesmith said, there is no absolute notion of 'rest' in relativity, so this would require no more or less finessing than keeping the tesseract at rest relative to Murph's bedroom), or to artificially create a localized gravitational distortion that bends light in a way that she can see and exchange a "handshake" with.


The "distortion" may or may not have been a fifth-dimensional human capable of creating the wormhole in the first place. Assuming it was, it should be a simple matter to keep pace with the spacecraft. As for not affecting anything inside the spacecraft, I don't believe it was a gravity distortion so much as a "the only way your mind can comprehend it" type representation. I believe this is supported by mcconaughey's character reaching out to the ship in the wormhole while he was in the black hole/five dimensional tesseract.

  • 2
    It was made clear towards the end that the distortion was Cooper himself, still inside the Tesseract and reaching towards Amelia Brand. However, since the Tesseract was a piece of technology that seemed designed to either take Cooper to where he needed to be or to read his thoughts and take him to where he wanted to go, I'd agree it's plausible that the Tesseract was intentionally allowing for him to interact with Brand by matching its velocity to the ship she was in.
    – Hypnosifl
    Apr 2, 2015 at 19:46
  • @Robert Wertz But there is nothing special called "gravity distortion". Distortion is equivalent to gravitation or both of them are same. Gravity extends to any dimention irrespective of four or five. So what about the gravity?
    – VacuuM
    Apr 2, 2015 at 19:48
  • Was that the only distortion? I thought there were some before him as well. The one that reached out to touch Brand was him, but I wasn't sure if there were more. Apr 2, 2015 at 19:49
  • True, but its a better shorthand than "the visual distortion caused by a source of immense gravity" or something like that. Apr 2, 2015 at 19:51
  • 1
    @Vikramaditya Mondal -- See my answer, the tesseract was artificially generating localized gravity distortions to help Cooper communicate, it wasn't that his body was naturally creating that distortion.
    – Hypnosifl
    Apr 2, 2015 at 20:30

This is mentioned in the novelisation. In short, the distortion appears to have been created by the wormhole aliens rather than being a natural phenomenon.

As to how it keeps pace, well this is an artifact of a civilisation capable of manipulating time and space and building black holes. I hardly think that moving quite quickly is beyond them:

Back in the ring module Brand saw a sudden apparent ripple in the air itself, which swiftly multiplied into an undulating distortion inside the ship.
Bending toward her.
“What is that?” Romilly gasped.
It was something of a relief to know that he saw it too.
She watched the distortion come, fascinated. It didn’t even occur to her to move. There was form there.
“I think…” she murmured, “I think it’s them.”
“Distorting space-time?” Romilly said.
Brand reached toward it.
“Don’t!” Romilly warned, as it touched her, and her hand began to ripple; like the air, like the wormhole. But she felt nothing, no pain.
Nothing but delight.

Note that it appears to be essentially formless and without gravitation.

It's also worth pointing out that in the original script they were rather more obviously the product of an alien intelligence.

  • @RichardYes, it is appearing to be without gravitation and that is my problem. the distortion is bending light (actually more than sun bends). So it has to be strong source of gravitation. But it has no effect.
    – VacuuM
    Apr 2, 2015 at 20:50
  • @VikramadityaMondal - The script and novel say that it's not bending the light through gravity.
    – Valorum
    Apr 2, 2015 at 21:07
  • no matter who produces the distortion. Important is the the product (distortion) is dangerous! The distortion should have some obvious effects which it don't have. Is there any explanation for this.
    – VacuuM
    Apr 2, 2015 at 21:09
  • If it is not bending light through gravity then what is that causing light to bend. If it has explanation, then fine. But I need to know the explanation.
    – VacuuM
    Apr 2, 2015 at 21:13
  • 1
    @Hypnosifl - DOYLE What the hell are they, Case? CASE I don't know. It could be gravitational turbulence. The twisting sphere in front of Doyle begins to grow. DOYLE It's getting bigger. Doyle puts up his hand to defend himself. The sphere absorbs it, twisting Doyle's hand. Doyle CRIES OUT. His hand is twisted completely around, impossibly mangled. But Doyle, hyperventilating, isn't in any pain. ROTH It's not bending your hand. It's bending the space around your hand.
    – Valorum
    Apr 2, 2015 at 21:51

Nothing is ever truly "stationary"; the Earth rotates and revolves around the Sun, which orbits around the center of the Milky Way, which moves with the expansion of the universe.

In order for the distortions to ever be useful, the Others have to master the ability to fix them relative to an object, not relative to some absolute point in spacetime. If they can fix one to exist near Earth, they can fix one to temporarily exist near the ship.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.