How Cooper did send a formula through the watch as Morse code in Interstellar?

There are no translations for the mathematical symbols she writes down on the board after getting the "formula" from the watch.

  • alpha, beta, gamma, sigma, equals, over... – his Oct 4 '15 at 18:54
  • Related (if not even duplicate): movies.stackexchange.com/q/27453/49. – Napoleon Wilson Oct 4 '15 at 19:25
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    @NapoleonWilson not a dupe. That asks about the physical communication method. This asks about the message itself. Only Tangentially related. – cde Oct 4 '15 at 20:54
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    "alpha, beta, gamma, sigma, equals, over" I could potentially believe, but am not 100% that potentially he spelt it out as f-i-v-e-h-h-u-n-d-r-e-d-t-h-i-r-t-y-e-i-g-h-t-t-o-t-h-e-t-h-i-r-d-p-o-w-e-r...etc. I just think it would be impractical and a little bit silly. Furthermore it makes no sense that if the aliens could travel back and forth in time they would not simply choose to warn us earlier and in a more practical matter and especially before m(b)illions of people die from this windy dirt apocalypse thing? I suppose my question takes the form of an answer. – Nathan Oct 4 '15 at 20:56
  • @Nathan they can only communicate by manipulating gravity, and they have no concept of time or language compared to 3d humans. And the interest is in saving the species, not individuals. And they did send the warning earlier, WE just didn't know how to understand it, or that it even existed. Lost in translation. – cde Oct 4 '15 at 21:49

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Here we see only a fraction of the message as she decodes it. What's visible is (May not be 100% accurate due to her hand):


translated into, well, nothing. No space marks or word marks are given. Considering that pauses are as important to morse as the Dit and Dah are, that's a goof. We can't tell from this where a letter starts or ends. Some morse is special, like the universally understood SOS, which is not actually the letters S, O, S, ...Pause---Pause... but a Prosign ...---.... (In Morse code, prosigns or procedural signals are dot/dash sequences that do not represent text per se, but have a special meaning in a transmission: they are generally not copied down; they are a telegraphic form of control character.)

The second line could be .-- .---- ..--- - as in W12T, or .--. ----. . --- - P9EOT or .--. ----. .--- - P9JT, or you get the point.

Since we know that TARS is the source of the morse, being a competent military grade machine, he would have included the pauses when translating to Cooper. So the failure is in Cooper's control of the watch, Murphy's writing or understanding of morse, or most likely, a filming mistake.

Next We see that Murphy has pages of notes, probably pure morse code when she starts to write on the board.

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This only seems to be part of the equation, so we don't know how long it really is.

Keep in mind that Brand Sr.'s equation is pretty small itself. It took only a single line on a single blackboard, with some sub-formulas.

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And since Murphy starts with S = same as Brand's equation, we can't be 100% sure she's writing the data that Cooper sent, or if she has already plugged it into the equation in an intuitive fashion.

That said, let's just assume what she's writing on the board:

S = 1/(2^?) ∫ d10x √-ge-210[R+4
Not sure what the 2 is to the power of, it's blurry

Each symbol has a name. ∫ is "Integral of", d10x is 10th "Derivative of X". √ is "Square Root of" or "SQRT". ^ is "Caret" or "To the Power of" or "Pwr". Every Single Mathematical symbol has a plain english (or greek) name, which can be a mouthful, but can be spoken, and as such, communicated. The greek symbols can be spelled out, so Cap Sigma or lower Epsilon. Even the weird curly L is Lagrangian.

Could be written out as:

S = 1 / 2 pwr ? BK Integral of BK 10th derivative of x BK sqrt Hyphen g e pwr hyphen 210 BK matrix of R plus 4
(BK = break, as in next independent variable, caret = ^ or to the power of)

In morse that would be:

... / -...- / .---- / -..-. / ..--- / .--. .-- .-. / ..--.. / -...-.- / .. -. - . --. .-. .- .-.. / --- ..-. / -...-.- / .---- ----- - .... / -.. . .-. .. ...- .- - .. ...- . / --- ..-. / -..- / -...-.- / ... --.- .-. - / .... -.-- .--. .... . -. / --. / . / .--. .-- .-. / .... -.-- .--. .... . -. / ..--- .---- ----- / -...-.- / -- .- - .-. .. -..- / --- ..-. / .-. / .--. .-.. ..- ... / ....-

Very short, and easily sent via morse. With some intuitive guesses by Murphy (She's pretty damn smart), even a ugly message like above can be understood. Context is everything. Obviously this is only part of the message, as Murphy has pages of it.

  • "they can only communicate by manipulating gravity.........WE just didn't know how to understand it, or that it even existed. Lost in translation." If they were interested in saving the species then, again, they would have sent the information in a more practical fashion (using only gravity as you say) and earlier, remember - they can manipulate time. This is irrefutable. cde - wow what a great response, thank you. – Nathan Oct 4 '15 at 23:21
  • @Nathan think of it this way. If you, with everything we know today, needed to send a message back in time to 4000 BC to warn the planet of a Noah type flood, and you could only do it with gravity (or a blinking light), A, who would you send it to, B, when would you send it, C, how do you expect them to find the message, D, how do you except them to understand the message, and E, would they even have the tools to do anything about it? People that don't speak your language or anything similar and have no understanding of modern concepts. – cde Oct 4 '15 at 23:37
  • Using your example specifically I'd use gravity to alter any sort of substance, say rocks, which would spell out the problem/solution, where I put it is a non-issue. I could put the thing in the sky, near a large population, or even under someone's bed. The message is still a pile of f**king rocks gravitating which spell out a message. Furthermore for a fifth dimensional alien w/ these implied communicative difficulties they seem to be quite able to get their message across with tesseracts. Every time I see Nolan's stamp on film I know I'm in for a wildly hole-ridden screenplay. – Nathan Oct 5 '15 at 3:15
  • @Nathan they can't produce antigravity, just reduce/increase it, so no floating rocks. And the message will be in what, english? 2000 AC english? 6000 years of language change. English doesn't exist. The Tesseract? Cooper had to guess what happened, and fall into a black hole to even access it. Them communicating with us, is like us trying to tell a monkey about nuclear radiation hazards. – cde Oct 5 '15 at 12:17
  • @cbe "they can't produce antigravity just reduce/increase it, so no floating rocks."Reducing and increasing gravity IS controlling gravity. Put it this way - the movie implies 5th dimensional beings have a great amount of issue communicating with humans. Fine. But if the same aliens can control black holes and tesseract's, harness time and gravity (more specifically engage with humans in a tesseract, and let them directly interact and interfere with past events) then it is plain that they can help us in an simpler way. To deny this in my humble opinion is absolutely ludicrous (lazy writing). – Nathan Oct 5 '15 at 20:34

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