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bio website nathanielvirgo.com
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visits member for 3 years, 2 months
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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
13
comment Why did the Earth cool down?
but welcome to stack exchange! It's a good answer apart from those small points.
Aug
13
comment Why did the Earth cool down?
Your story about the formation of the oceans isn't quite right - the oceans are not just hollows that have been filled in. Their depth is actually the result of plate tectonics, so the ocean basins as we know them are much younger than the Earth. The continental plates are made mostly of granite, which only began to form after the water condensed.
Aug
13
comment Why did the Earth cool down?
Space does have a little bit of heat, since it's filled with the cosmic microwave background, which is thermal radiation at around $3\,\mathrm{K}\approx -270^{\circ}\mathrm{C}$. You are right that this is extremely cold, however.
Aug
13
comment Dark age of universe when all fusion process ceases?
I'll leave it to someone more knowledgeable to give a full answer, but my understanding is (1) yes, eventually all stars will go out and there will be no more star light; (2) no, because the universe is expanding, so most galaxies will keep moving apart from each other forever, although eventually I guess all the objects in each galaxy will collide (due to dissipating energy via gravitational waves); (3) yes, black holes will eventually dominate the universe but this won't last forever, since they evaporate. Eventually all the mass will be in the form of extremely long-wavelength photons.
Aug
10
awarded  Popular Question
Aug
7
awarded  Necromancer
Aug
7
comment Result of increasing the radius of earth?
@VishwasGagrani it would have two very large effects on the people living on Earth. First, increasing the mass means you increase the gravity at the surface, and pretty soon this would get uncomfortable (and, not long after, deadly). Secondly, covering the entire surface of the Earth in additional material (taken from asteroids or something I guess) would be pretty inconvenient for anyone who lives there.
Aug
6
comment What do you call the period after sunrise when the sky is bright?
@Dilaton It seemed to me to be a question about astronomical terminology. "Everyday physics" questions are on topic here (and some of them are quite good), so I think "everyday astronomy" ones should be as well :)
Aug
6
comment What do you call the period after sunrise when the sky is bright?
@Dilaton this is the physics and astronomy stack exchange. It's on topic.
Aug
5
reviewed Leave Open Determing aperture size for space-based-solar-power laser transmitter
Aug
5
comment Why is there a size limitation on animals?
It's worth adding to this that the first person to put these ideas forward was Galileo Galilei, whose book Two New Sciences was concerned both with physical scaling laws and with the work on motion and gravity for which he is more widely remembered today.
Aug
4
comment Entropy of a naked singularity
But lots of things have a non-zero entropy without having a horizon. Any object from your day to day life will serve as an example. So this argument by itself doesn't show that a singularity has zero entropy.
Aug
3
reviewed Close Lay explanation of the special theory of relativity?
Aug
3
comment Linearity of quantum mechanics and nonlinearity of macroscopic physics
Voting to reopen because closing this made absolutely zero sense. It's a good question - I can't even begin to imagine what people thought was wrong with it.
Jul
25
reviewed Leave Open Calculating an expression for the trace of generators of two Lie algebra
Jul
25
reviewed Close What is longitudinal relaxation time and transverse relaxation time?
Jul
25
reviewed Reviewed Gas mixture flow rate equation
Jul
25
awarded  Nice Question
Jul
25
comment Drop a star in a river
See also physics.stackexchange.com/questions/37912/…
Jul
25
revised What is the easiest way to stop a star?
added the update