14,195 reputation
23671
bio website nathanielvirgo.com
location
age
visits member for 3 years, 2 months
seen 1 hour 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.


Nov
26
comment Hourglass on the Moon
@Frédéric the correction due to general relativity will be of the order 0.02 seconds per year of measured time (quoting from Wikipedia because I'm lazy) - far smaller than the error involved in measuring time with an egg timer, so I think this is a perfectly acceptable answer!
Nov
26
accepted Hourglass on the Moon
Nov
26
comment Hourglass on the Moon
I hope you don't mind that I edited in the derivation of the $\sqrt g$ law from the other answer, since that's what I wanted to know.
Nov
26
revised Hourglass on the Moon
added 838 characters in body
Nov
24
awarded  Nice Question
Nov
24
comment Hourglass on the Moon
@WetSavannaAnimalakaRodVance interestingly, avalanches on a sand pile are one of the classic examples of self-organised criticality, so in the limit of an infinite pile they follow a power law distribution and don't have a characteristic size. (That's in theory at least; in practice many things can break the scale invariance, including the detailed shape of the grains.) But I'm not sure whether the dynamics of the avalanches are all that relevant to the time taken for all the sand to fall, since they happen far away from the neck where the flow is limited.
Nov
22
comment Hourglass on the Moon
@CarlWitthoft you're right about it probably not being constant - I've changed it to "reproducible".
Nov
22
revised Hourglass on the Moon
added 11 characters in body
Nov
22
asked Hourglass on the Moon
Nov
18
comment If we traveled at almost light speed with a mirror in hand
I'm also voting to reopen, because the "duplicate" question has been closed as off-topic on the grounds that it's "non-mainstream" physics. As Rod Vance says, this one avoids that by asking about being near rather than at the speed of light.
Nov
17
revised What is an interpretation of quantum mechanics?
added 61 characters in body
Nov
17
comment How can anything ever fall into a black hole as seen from an outside observer?
@BenCrowell well thanks for the downvote then. In future when my knowledge is limited and from an unofficial source, would you prefer if I was less honest about it?
Nov
12
answered What is an interpretation of quantum mechanics?
Nov
7
comment Is it theoretically possible to have a universe where sound travels faster than light $c$?
@RobJeffries that's very interesting, thank you.
Nov
6
answered Is it theoretically possible to have a universe where sound travels faster than light $c$?
Nov
5
comment Is there a lower bound on energy needed to transfer one bit of information?
in the classical world there's no lower bound. You just transmit the bit by either pushing a mass toward the other station or not. By making the mass arbitrarily small and/or slow-moving, the energy can be as small as you want. In the quantum world it's less obvious though. At a wild guess I'd say the energy-time uncertainty relation might become relevant.
Oct
30
comment A question about Memristors
It's 100% relevant here IMHO. It's a physics question, not an engineering one.
Oct
28
answered Energy without temperature
Oct
28
comment Exponentially increasing $\Omega(E)$
Sorry, but this is wrong. The Boltzmann distribution says that the probability of being in a state decreases as its energy increases, but this is not the same as the number of states with a given energy.
Oct
28
comment What mechanism is responsible for the creation of these dunes on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko?
My own wild guess is that they're related to the surface slipping downhill and either wrinkling up or breaking in a series of fractures. It would be very nice to see an authoritative answer!