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It is stated in Interstellar that each one hour spent on Miller's Planet equals seven years earth time.

Cooper and his colleagues spend some time on the planet, and by the time they return, Romilly says that he has been waiting for 23 years, which means they must have spend three hours on the planet (highly doubted). But that's not the question.

How did Romilly survive 23 years on that Endurance? Did he have unlimited food supplies? What about the generated waste (if you know what I mean)? Did they just throw it all in space?

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    It's been a while since a saw the movie but I remember that Romily told them when they got back that he slept (there is technology that allows them to sleep for many years). You can check the part where they return to the ship. You can also see that when they explore the other planet the initial explorer is found sleeping and it is awaken by them. Jun 15, 2015 at 10:01
  • Similar question from another site: How did Romilly's food supplies last 23 years? Jan 28, 2019 at 14:19

5 Answers 5

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"Hypersleep Pods (a.k.a. "the long nap") are used to slow the ageing process of the human body so that astronauts do not incur excessive senescence and not overly consume limited supplies while on their missions." reference

Romily clearly states that he had slept for a while.

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  • Thanks. So, he slept for 23 years, and woke up just in time to meet them? When exactly did he wake up? Was he awokened by the bots prior to the arrival of Cooper?
    – Ahmad
    Jun 15, 2015 at 11:27
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    I do not remember all the details. From what I remember he tells them when they arrived that he did some researches, slept for a couple of times and that he was preparing for a long sleep. As I recall you can set the time you want to sleep, it just happened that he was awake. Jun 15, 2015 at 12:23
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    He said that at first he slept much and long, but then after their return seemed less likely he didn't sleep much more since he thought he couldn't such sleep his life away. So when they arrived back at the Endurance he already was awake for quite some time (years maybe), as also indicated by his beard and his generally slightly older appearance.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Jun 15, 2015 at 12:44
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    "Couple of stretches" to be precise @AlexandruCimpanu Jun 16, 2015 at 4:42
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Here is the conversation after Cooper and Amelia return to Endurance.

Brand: Hello, Rom.
Romilly: I've waited years.
Cooper: How... How many years?
Romilly: By now it must be …
CASE: Twenty-three years, four months, eight days.
Romilly: Doyle?
Brand: I thought I was prepared. I knew the theory. Reality's different.
Romilly: And [Miller's Planet]?
Brand: There's nothing here for us. Why didn't you sleep?
Romilly: Oh, I had a couple of stretches. But I stopped believing you were coming back. And something seemed wrong about dreaming my life away.

Romilly didn't sleep for the whole period, that's why he looked aged compared to Cooper and Amelia when they come back. He was a scientist by heart so after taking a couple of stretches as he said, he started doing research on the black hole (Gargantua) and that's how he spent 23 years.

About the food supplies and all, it is not clearly mentioned anywhere in the movie, but he might be able to stretch the supplies with those couple of stretches he took while Cooper and Amelia were away.

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The question of survival is linked to the relative time Romilly spent awake on Endurance while waiting for the return of his colleagues. It is debated how realistic the gravitational time dilation was in the movie. The mass of the planet his colleagues visited would have to be massive enough to slow time for them while at the same time not crush their bodies. Simultaneously, the gravitational pull of the black hole in space would have to be enough to effectively cancel out the mass of the planet for Romilly so that the gravitational force was so negligible in comparison (relative) to the folks on the planet. The Endurance was likely hanging out at a Lagrange point in order to conserve fuel by sitting in a place with equal pull from the black hole and the planet. Metabolic processes, in theory, accelerate to full potential when gravity is not slowing things down, thus aging. While higher gravity slows everything down, even pure energy such as light, thus disputably, aging is slowed. The Endurance was likely stocked with nutrient precursors, components that could have been fed to bacteria in specialized reactors in order to produce proteins, carbohydrates, sugars, much like how industrial processes make vitamins such as B12 today. Using bacteria and photosynthetic processes will be the future of generating caloric supply, using basic building blocks like carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, light and other radiant forms of energy and specialized bacteria and cellular cultures. All of these components can be recycled and reused. Romilly's waste would have been recycled, fed to the bacteria, so to speak. With resources like these and cryogenic hibernation reducing metabolic function to near zero for extended periods of time, it would have not been so difficult for one person to survive.

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    Seems to be quite a bit of speculation for an answer. May 9, 2022 at 6:08
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It was a movie error anyways, they said an hour there was 7 years on earth.. rommily was in orbit, right by the black hole the same as them.. So time would be the same for him as it was for Brand and Cooper. Only on earth would 24 years have gone by. Unless I'm missing something.

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  • I am upvoting because I had the same doubts. He was still in the orbit near the blackhole, it would had more or less the same time dilation of the planet surface
    – albanx
    Nov 21, 2021 at 21:58
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Basically it was poor writing, they wanted to toss something wacky at the audience but did not care about the complications. Perhaps there'd have been enough food were the astronaut "sleeping" but where does the oxygen come from? Knowing the effects of relativity it seems extremely foolish that anyone even landed on that planet, especially since the real reason they went there in the first place was to inspect the black hole.

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