Home News MCSP Presents: Order Out of Chaos by Dr. Linda Reichl

MCSP Presents: Order Out of Chaos by Dr. Linda Reichl


Written by Jack Miller

Last Tuesday, April 6, Roanoke College hosted a conversational event within the the Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Physics Conversation (MSCP) Series called “Order Out of Chaos.” It was led by Dr. Linda Reichl, who has on multiple occasions come to deliver similar conversation series at Roanoke College, particularly to the business department. Reichl began her talk by explaining the new ways over the last few years in which scientists now understand that life could possibly be formed from utter chaos.

Reichl then explained to those present about the different methods used alongside the scientific method in the fields of chemistry and physics that have advanced our human understanding of nature. She explained the legacy of leading physicists who had done crucial research in the theory of chaos, starting all the way back with the publications of Newton. 

She illustrated the ideas around Chaos Theory with the example of a spinning rod, which uses Newton’s Theory of Motion but turns it on its head, creating a system of movements in which the next move cannot be predicted. This can be applied to planetary motion and is currently being used to further understand our universe. Reichl then introduced many of the Russian chemists throughout recent history that have applied this theoretical framework to practical applications. 

She wrapped the talk up by theorizing that this Theory of Chaos is not simply limited to theoretical dimensions but can be applied to the biological realm as well. Human life, she then said, is possible to be formed out of nothing using these forces of chaos.

The MSCP series will be hosting their next talk, titled Rise of the Machines presented by Michael McCracken from Washington and Jefferson College, on Tuesday, April 27 from 7 to 8 p.m.  All MCSP series talks this semester are being hosted via Zoom, and links to upcoming talks and recordings of past talks can be found on the college’s “MCSP Co-Curricular Activities” website.  If you are not a member of the RC community, email rahmoeller@roanoke.edu to request the Zoom links.  For more information on the MCSP series, please contact Dr. Maggie Rahmoeller at rahmoeller@roanoke.edu.