Science on Screen: Ursinus Professor Talks Chaos Theory

Casey Schwarz, an assistant professor of physics, will present Chaos Theory: Butterflies and Drug Lords prior to a screening of Run Lola Run at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville on Tuesday, March 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Schwarz will help explain the science depicted the existentialist film classic for movie audiences.

The Colonial Theatre’s grant-funded event is part of the national Science on Screen program series, which creatively pairs classic, cult, science fiction, foreign and documentary films with lively presentations by scientists working in related — or seemingly unrelated — fields.

This year, the Colonial Theatre is one of nearly 30 theaters nationwide that will present films and discussions during the simultaneous National Evening of Science on Screen on March 28. Science on Screen is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.  Schwarz’s presentation and audience responses will be videotaped as part of the Colonial’s grant.

“I’ll be discussing how Run Lola Run demonstrates chaos theory’s butterfly effect,” Schwarz says. “I am interested in how science and physics is portrayed in film and TV versus how it actually works. Some can be wildly and hilariously inaccurate, but a few get it right.”

Schwarz earned her bachelor’s degree and doctoral degree from the University of Central Florida. Her research interests include 3D laser writing of novel materials, development and design of optical devices, and optical characterization.

For information and tickets, visit Ursinus College alumni and Colonial Theatre members are invited to enjoy a pre-film reception before the screening and talk. Contact Emily Simmons, development director, with questions at (610) 917-1228.

This semester, Jordan Scharaga ’17, a media and communications studies major, is interning at the Colonial, where she researches and programs films for the upcoming classics series and has had a hand in planning the Science on Screen event. 

“I hope to work as a programmer for independent theaters or film festivals in future,” Scharaga says. “I have been given the chance to program a section of their spring programming, which is a rare and exciting responsibility that I might not have been exposed to if I was interning at another theater. Eventually, I hope to go back to school and receive my Ph.D. in film so I can teach at an institution like Ursinus. I love that both my internship and future revolve around research and learning.” 

The 658-seat Colonial Theatre is located on Bridge Street in the heart of downtown Phoenixville. Opened in 1903, the Colonial is the last surviving of four theaters once existing in the borough and is the only theatre of its kind in Chester County. It is owned and operated by the nonprofit Association for the Colonial Theatre (ACT), which re-opened the theatre in 1999. Theater programming includes art and independent films seven nights a week, classic films, programs for young audiences, live concerts, and community events. –by Ed Moorhouse