Last year’s Science on Screen event was held indoors at the Helipad. This year the showings will be outdoors this summer at Swanny City Park. [Courtesy Science Moab]

Are you the friend that everyone “shushes” at the movie theater as you call out plot holes and impossibilities in the story line? At Science Moab’s “Science on Screen” series, a panel of professionals will be there to back you up.

On April 16, at the first of three spring events, Science Moab will host a showing of the movie “Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” at an outdoor screen at Swanny City Park. Before the film, a panel of scientists will discuss the science aspects of the movie and how they relate to the Moab region. The 1964 dark comedy classic satirizes the Cold War; Moab’s uranium boom in the 1950s helped to fuel the development of nuclear weapons that perpetuated the brinkmanship of that era.

Local geologist, aviator, guide and educator Chris Benson and geologist, author, and former National Park Service interpreter Allyson Mathis will comprise the panel. The discussion will take place before the film showing, allowing time for darkness to set in and giving the panelists the opportunity to point out “relevant scienc-y stuff that the audience can look for in the movie,” said Science Moab Executive Director Kristina Young. The movie will then play uninterrupted—your friends will still be annoyed if you cut in to point out inaccurate details!

“Dr. Strangelove” and the next two films, which will be shown in May and June, were chosen in brainstorming sessions among Science Moab staff. At this year’s events, organizers will be soliciting movie/scientist suggestions for future Science on Screen events.

“These events are so much fun and such a great excuse to pair awesome movies with awesome science,” said Young. Last year’s Science on Screen event was held in the Helipad in early March, before coronavirus concerns prompted a shutdown of businesses and events. Over 200 attendees watched “Mad Max: Fury Road” and heard commentary from local soil scientists and ecologists. Hosting the events outdoors this year will allow for social distancing to alleviate COVID-19 concerns. Young advised attendees to bring masks.

The Science on Screen program is not unique to Moab. The Coolidge Corner Theater in Massachusetts launched the idea and helps fund these kinds of events across the country. Science Moab is also partnering with the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission and the City of Moab Recreation Department, which are loaning the equipment.

“We’re so glad to be able to have these events again and can’t wait for the community to come together, learn some new things, and celebrate local science,” said Young.

Event Info:

What: Science on Screen showing of “Dr. Strangelove: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb”

When: Friday, April 16, panel discussion at 7 p.m., movie showing at 8 p.m.

Where: Swanny City Park (400 N. 100 West, Moab)

Cost: Free

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