Mention chaos and fractals, and most people think of colorful fractal art calendars or James Gleick's 1988 bestselling book, “Chaos.” The scientific questions touched on by these cultural phenomena are far from exhausted, and Kevin Mitchell uses mathematical, theoretical and computer tools to examine how the extremely complex patterns we call chaos manifest in selected systems.
“Chaos is actually sort of a misleading term for what we study, because it makes people think it's impossible to understand, “Mitchell said. “Actually there's lots of structure in chaotic systems, beautiful structure. We just need to use the right tools to understand it.”
Mitchell is especially interested in linking theoretical physics – his specialty – with experimental physics. And he is coordinating a program to bring physicists into K-12 classrooms to help open the eyes of students in California's Central Valley to the possibilities of science for their futures.