Science on Screen®: THE GENERAL with Dr. Timothy Cyders

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Predicting Failure

A presentation on engineering design and safety/engineering failure given by University Professor Timothy Cyders, PhD, followed by a screening of Buster Keaton’s 1926 death-defying slapstick The General! Live, improvised musical accompaniment by Sean Parsons.

About the film

Buster Keaton plays Johnny Gray, a Southern railroad engineer who loves his train engine, The General, almost as much as he loves Annabelle Lee (Marion Mack). When the opening shots of the Civil War are fired at Fort Sumter, Johnny tries to enlist — and he is deemed too useful as an engineer to be a soldier. All Johnny knows is that he’s been rejected, and Annabelle, thinking him a coward, turns her back on him. When Northern spies steal the General (and, unwittingly, Annabelle), the story switches from drama and romance to adventure mixed with Keaton’s trademark deadpan humor as he uses every means possible to catch up to the General, thwart the Yankees, and rescue his darling Annabelle — for starters. As always, Keaton performs his own stunts, combining his prodigious dexterity, impeccable comic timing, and expressive body language to convey more emotion than the stars of any of the talkies that were soon to dominate cinema.

About the speaker

Before coming to work at Ohio University in 2012, Timothy Cyders held various engineering positions in engineering testing, manufacturing, and machine design for companies such as Dana Corporation and General Electric’s Consumer and Industrial division. He started his first business in 2008, and has done consulting work in design and manufacturing optimization for various industries since. He teaches courses focused on mechanical design, design process, and materials. Dr. Cyders is also an Assistant Director at the Center for Advanced Materials Processing. His research is split between engineering education and advanced materials testing, manufacturing, and performance, with a specific focus on metals.

Patrons are encouraged to arrive 20 minutes before show time to secure a seat in advance. Due to the nature of this event, late entry will not be permitted. Please arrive on time. Tickets are available now and may be picked up in person at the theater.



Science on Screen® is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre, with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The Science on Screen program pairs films with a short talk with a scientist or technology expert. The free Science on Screen events are fun and engaging, offering dynamic speakers an unexpected jumping point to teach their field of expertise in a way that is accessible to a diverse audience.


Free admission to this event is provided by Arts for OHIO.


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Running Time: 79 min79 MIN
This Film is Wheelchair Accessible

Even in our anything-is-possible digital age, it's still a wonder to see the quicksilver Keaton executing mathematically precise, guffaw-inducing gags and pratfalls.

Entertainment Weekly