Science on Screen Series at Amherst Cinema

The Law of Physics and Groundhog Day
Science on Screen Series at Amherst Cinema

What does the tradition of Groundhog Day have to do with learning science? Well, when you throw in a classic Bill Murray film, the three things combine for an interesting examination of time loops and the physics behind such a concept!

As part of the Science on Screen series, Amherst Cinema will screening Groundhog Day on Monday, February 3rd at 7pm. A comedic classic, the film features Murray as a TV weatherman sent out on his least favorite annual assignment – covering the emergence of Punxsutawney Phil from his hole. Much to his horror, Murrary’s character gets snowed in after the event, and wakes to find himself in a time loop where he experiences Groundhog Day over and over and over. Eventually, he is forced to get creative with his extra lopping time and works to become more in touch with himself.

Along with the film, the event will feature a discussion with Amherst College physics professor Dr. Kannan Jagannathan. Using the film as a reference, Jagannathan will discuss time travel’s presence in fiction and the roots of such stories in physics principles (or not!). While there is a place in science for examining the potential for time travel, there is much more space for examining the rules of physics broken within plots that include time traveling adventures. Jagannathan will point out instances of such rule breaking in the film, and will help viewers to understand Einstein’s theory of relativity and the ways in which it applies to the instances from the film. 

Best for older students, the event will help to expand understanding of basic scientific principles and will help students learn to look critically at pop culture. Applying a lens created through background knowledge in science to popular films, urban legends, iconic photographs, and other pieces of pop culture provides students with an outlet for their knowledge, and also offers them a chance to critically examine the world around them – an activity that will serve them well as they learn to navigate the world.

Tickets for the event are available for advance purchase online – as space is limited, it’s a good idea to purchase ahead of time to ensure you’ll get in! For more information about the event, as well as upcoming Science on Screen events, contact Amherst Cinema at 413-253-2547.

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