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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.


Aug
17
comment Why slightly closing your eyes let you see the rainbow colors?
I think it is diffraction, but not caused by the eyelids forming a small aperture, since looking through a pinhole doesn't cause the same effect. Rather, I think it's light diffracting around the eyelashes, which I guess are quite a bit smaller.
Aug
16
awarded  Deputy
Aug
16
comment General Thermodynamic equation of state
It seems I forgot about your comment. I've edited my answer to take account of it.
Aug
16
revised General Thermodynamic equation of state
added 1062 characters in body
Aug
14
comment Problems with units of entropy in statistical thermodynamics
I don't understand why you think W has to be dimensionful. S and k have the same units, so the dimensions balance when W is dimensionless, which in fact it is, since it's just a number.
Aug
6
revised Wavelength and Frustum shaped resonant cavity
Spelling
Aug
5
comment What is the physical meaning of the action in Lagrangian mechanics?
This is fascinating - I've never seen this explanation before. Does it still hold for non-inertial particles (i.e. when there's a force involved), and for entangled particles, fields etc.?
Aug
5
comment Why do some pressure cookers initially leak
Voting to reopen. Clearly a physics question, clearly a physics answer. Obviously the design of the pressure cooker has something to do with it, but that will be the case for virtually any 'home experiment' type question.
Jul
28
revised Why does nuclear matter tend to maximize pressure?
Sorry for the minor edit, but that comma is not correct English (it is correct German), and since the OP didn't include it it seems better not to edit it in.
Jul
28
comment What does it mean to say “Gravity is the weakest of the forces”?
It may or may not also have been Feynman who said words to the effect that the question "why is gravity so weak?" can be rephrased as "why is the mass of the proton so small?".
Jul
23
comment Sea surfer position displacement
@Renan oh, there's no need to delete your answer, it's not wrong! It's just that buoyancy is only one of the forces that contribute to balancing the gravity force, especially if you're on a smaller board. The other is hydrodynamic lift, which is similar to the aerodynamic lift provided by a wing. I imagine the fluid dynamics of this are somewhat complicated, but I've never looked into them in detail. (I'm only a surf beginner myself, but I've tried standing on a longboard while not moving and it does sink. This must be even more so for shortboards.)
Jul
22
comment Sea surfer position displacement
Buoyancy isn't all that important for surfing. Unless it's a foam board (a very big, very buoyant design that's easy for beginners) a surfboard will sink if you try to stand on it in still water. Surfing works because of lift generated by moving along the water surface.
Jul
19
awarded  Good Question
Jul
19
revised Why did nuclear testing not result in nuclear winter?
multiple typos in the word "stratosphere"
Jul
19
comment What conditions do a bunch of atoms need to satisfy to have a temperature?
@ticster maybe, but it's very dependent on me finding time - I'd say don't hold your breath!
Jul
19
comment What conditions do a bunch of atoms need to satisfy to have a temperature?
Great question! I could write a great answer if I had time, but it would be an awful lot of work. The short short version is that a system really needs to be in equilibrium to have a temperature, and the two beams travelling in opposite directions are not in equilibrium, since you could certainly extract work from such a system. But that's an over-simplification, because there are lots of systems that have temperatures without being in equilibrium. (E.g.: a human being.) Disentangling that in a formal way is possible, but as I said, a lot of work.
Jul
18
awarded  Popular Question
Jul
18
awarded  Nice Question
Jul
18
comment Not-so-hot black shirt
Not a proper answer, but when looking at an image of myself taken with an IR camera I was surprised to find that my black fleece top appeared white. So that kind of synthetic material might be an example, although I wouldn't want to wear it on a hot day!
Jul
18
asked If there were fundamental forces weaker than gravity, would we know about it?