I still haven’t seen Interstellar yet, but here’s a great interview with Kip Thorne about the movie-making process and what he thinks of the final product. (For a very different view, see Phil Plait [update: now partly recanted].)
One of the things Kip talks about is that the film refers to the concept of a tesseract, which he thought was fun. A tesseract is a four-dimensional version of a cube; you can’t draw it faithfully in two dimensions, but with a little imagination you can get the idea from the picture on the right. Kip mentions that he first heard of the concept of a tesseract in George Gamow’s classic book One, Two, Three… Infinity. Which made me feel momentarily proud, because I remember reading about it there, too — and only later did I find out that many (presumably less sophisticated) people heard of it in Madeleine L’Engle’s equally classic book, A Wrinkle in Time.
But then I caught myself, because (1) it’s stupid to think that reading about something for the first time in a science book rather than a science fantasy is anything to be proud of, and (2) in reality I suspect I first heard about it in Robert Heinlein’s (classic!) short story, “–And He Built a Crooked House.” Which is just as fantastical as L’Engle’s book.
So — where did you first hear the word “tesseract”? A great excuse for a poll! Feel free to elaborate in the comments.