I'm confused about the scene where Matthew McConaughey wakes up in this new habitat of the humans. I presume that it's not earth, he's on another planet. And why does the land look like a tunnel there? Is it the black hole where all are residing now?

1 Answer 1


It's actually a space station, orbiting Saturn. The reason it looks like a tube or the inside of a big barrel may seem a little confusing. But in outer space, there is no gravity. One simple way to simulate gravity is to create a big tube, put the people inside of it, and spin it. Since it's spinning, people are "pushed" against the outside of it. That feels like gravity!

If you're having trouble envisioning this, think of the "Roundup" ride at amusement parks. video

roundup ride

Everybody's pressed against the "outside" of the ride as it spins around. Imagine this if there's no gravity; you would just be pressed, evenly, against the outside. Once you caught your balance, you could get on your knees, and then your feet, with your head pointing towards the center. If you looked "up", you'd see the people on the other side of the ride, standing as though they were on the "ceiling", looking "down" at you!

  • 5
    The correct description for the structure is an O'Neil cylinder. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O%27Neill_cylinder The station they're on is refferenced pretty early in the movie, when Prof. Brand tells Cooper to look closely at the structure of the secret NASA base they're in, and Cooper notes it's been designed to also act as a space station.
    – MattD
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 18:54
  • @MattD Good additional information! Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 19:05
  • I think the centripetal theme behind this answer is incorrect, but would normally seem correct. The reason I say this is, Cooper gives Murph the data she needs to finish Prof. Brand's gravity equations. Because of this, they can now control gravity. The structure they are in at the end of the movie was Prof. Brand's module they were building (and building and building), which they were able to get off of Earth because of their new found control of gravity. All due to Coop's efforts inside of the black hole construct. Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 19:44
  • 1
    @Paulster2 Hmm, you could be right. I don't think we could know for sure without asking the director, or writer, or scientific advisor. However, if they could control gravity there would be no need to make the space station barrel-shaped. The could construct a flat surface dome (much less disorienting for the inhabitants!) with a glass dome over it to keep the air in, and "put" gravity underneath the flat surface to keep the people from floating away. So I think it's more likely to be an O'Neil cylinder, just based on its design. Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 20:45
  • 1
    @Paulster2 I agree it was very clearly stated in the movie, and they learned how to manipulate gravity. I just can't think of a good reason to use an O'Neil cylinder design if they aren't utilizing centripetal force. Commented Nov 13, 2014 at 0:38

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .