Residents will have a chance to be on the cutting edge of scientific theory when Martin Ogle, Chief Naturalist for the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, delivers a presentation on James Lovelock’s 1979 Gaia Theory 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 23, at the Central Library at the Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy St..

Lovelock theorized that Earth functions like a living system, regulating its own composition and continually cycling matter and energy to maintain the balance of materials necessary to sustain life. The theory met with initial resistance in the scientific community but is increasingly accepted.

For Ogle, discussing the theory now is especially exciting considering its growing importance in science. “It not only has implications, it is the implication,” he said.

Ogle has taught courses on Gaia Theory through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the library, he will present an interactive, multimedia display he designed for adults and teenagers, that explains the theory and its implications.

Ogle says a background in biology is not necessary to understand and enjoy Wednesday’s event. In addition to teaching courses for adults well versed in science, Ogle has also explained Gaia to children as young as 4th grade.

“The theory for me is the ultimate context for education,” said Ogle. Gaia brings together biology, chemistry, physics, ecology and a host of other disciplines. For instance, in one of the discoveries that supports the theory, scientists found that certain aquatic microorganisms produce chemicals essential for the water cycle that brings evaporated water together in clouds and back to earth as rain.

Such discoveries show how organic and inorganic systems depend on each other, essentially functioning as a single system, Ogle said. Consequently, Gaia Theory brings together people interested in a wide range of topics. “I don’t know of any other topic that brings everyone to a potentially same area,” he said.

Gaia Theory is becoming a popular topic in education. After years of being marginalized by the scientific community, the theory is now included in most textbooks.

Lovelock designed a computer model called “Daisyworld” to test the Gaia hypothesis in a virtual world. The program simulates real world conditions on a limited scale, using daisy flowers as the test life form. Some Arlington schools have begun using the model as a teaching tool for the high school biology curriculum. Ogle will discuss the model and other

Ogle will deliver the presentation in conjunction with the Arlington County libraries, which will be highlighting books and other materials related to the topic. The presentation will also feature hammered dulcimer music performed by Jody Marshall of the band Moonfire.

The presentation is free and open to the public. For more information on the presentation or on Gaia Theory, call Potomac Overlook Regional Park at 703-528-5406.


Residents along Columbia Pike got extra public transit last week, as Arlington Transit launched the new bus route 41 Monday, April 7. The route will run between Columbia Pike at Dinwiddie Street to Court House Metro. The bus will travel on South Glebe Road to Wilson Boulevard and return via Clarendon Boulevard. Stops along the route include Glebe Road and Columbia Pike, Ballston Common Mall, the Arlington Department of Human Services, Clarendon Metro and Court House Metro.

The service will operate at half-hour intervals from 6:30 a.m.-6:50 p.m., Monday through Friday. The fare will be the same as Metrobus, $1.10 per trip, with discounts for seniors and people with disabilities, weekly and monthly passes, free transfers to Metrobus and $0.25 transfers from Metrorail.