14,640 reputation
23873
bio website nathanielvirgo.com
location
age
visits member for 3 years, 2 months
seen 26 mins ago

I'm a post-doctoral researcher with a wide range of interests. My career is in complex systems science (or maybe cybernetics) and the origins of life, but I also have research interests in

  • the foundations of statistical mechanics and its relationship to information theory
  • Earth systems science
  • non-equilibrium thermodynamics in general

I'm also generally interested in the foundations of quantum mechanics and in black holes, though I wouldn't say I'm an expert on those things.

It's probably worth noting that despite the fact that my research is in physics-related areas, all my degrees are in other subjects. If I occasionally seem to start talking in an alien language, this is probably why.


44m
comment Disprove this “proof” that the sun is only a few kilometers away
@JanDvorak done!
44m
revised Disprove this “proof” that the sun is only a few kilometers away
added 202 characters in body
12h
awarded  Good Answer
17h
revised Disprove this “proof” that the sun is only a few kilometers away
added 389 characters in body
18h
awarded  Nice Answer
20h
answered Disprove this “proof” that the sun is only a few kilometers away
1d
comment Why are large scale structures isotropic in the Ising model?
I guess the evidence is that sometimes the lattice becomes irrelevant in the large-scale limit, and sometimes it doesn't. Diffusion and the Ising model become isotropic on large scales, but (to pick the first arbitrary example I found with an animation on Wikipedia), Brian's Brain doesn't. In the case of diffusion I have some understanding of why the lattice anisotropy washes out, but for the Ising model I don't. I suspect the answer is quite non-trivial. (Merry Christmas by the way!)
Dec
22
awarded  Enlightened
Dec
22
awarded  Nice Answer
Dec
22
comment Why are large scale structures isotropic in the Ising model?
I'm afraid I didn't mean anything formal by "seems to be rotationally invariant" - I just meant that when looking at high-resolution images from simulations, I can't see any straight edges aligned with the lattice, or any other tell-tale clues that suggest anisotropy.
Dec
22
comment Why are large scale structures isotropic in the Ising model?
I really appreciate the answer, but the thing is, for someone who plays with cellular automata for a living, it's really quite remarkable that the lattice details don't matter on large enough scales. For "most systems" that isn't the case, and the lattice anisotropy is inherited by the large-scale structures. There must be some special mechanism that makes the lattice behave like a continuum in models with the structure of the Ising model, and I'm curious about what that is. For scale invariance I can sort of see it, but isotropy still seems a mystery to me.
Dec
21
revised Why are large scale structures isotropic in the Ising model?
rolled back to a previous revision
Dec
21
comment Can you die from a $250 \, \mathrm V$ broken cable?
"my dad taped it so it is safe now" - depending on exactly how it's broken, how it was fixed and what kind of tape was used, it may not be safe at all. E.g. if the frayed wire causes electrical arcing it could melt through the tape, and potentially it could still kill you. Please buy a new power supply.
Dec
21
revised Scaling with the Ising Model
fixed markup
Dec
21
revised Scaling with the Ising Model
fixed markup
Dec
21
asked Why are large scale structures isotropic in the Ising model?
Dec
19
comment Can a discoverer give the name he wants to his finding?
To add a small point to Floris' good answer: in general, attempting to name something after yourself is considered a massive faux pas, and doing it would cause you to come across as unprofessional or a crank. The discoverer's name is always attached to the discovery by other people writing about it afterwards.
Dec
18
answered Can string theory get rid of randomness in quantum processes?
Dec
18
comment Why do physics students find vectors so difficult to deal with?
(I myself particularly like the second answer, by Vladimir Sotirov.)
Dec
18
comment Why do physics students find vectors so difficult to deal with?
This seems (at least tangentially) related to the "law of universal linearity" - you might find some of the comments there helpful.