16,264 reputation
44478
bio website nathanielvirgo.com
location
age
visits member for 3 years, 6 months
seen 18 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.


Jan
21
awarded  Nice Answer
Jan
21
revised Is there a thermodynamic limit on how efficiently you can solve a Rubik's cube?
deleted 79 characters in body
Jan
21
revised Is there a thermodynamic limit on how efficiently you can solve a Rubik's cube?
added 1 character in body
Jan
21
revised Is there a thermodynamic limit on how efficiently you can solve a Rubik's cube?
added 1 character in body
Jan
21
answered Is there a thermodynamic limit on how efficiently you can solve a Rubik's cube?
Jan
21
comment What is the relativistic mass of this spinning ball?
I can see quite a bit of conceptual stuff in the second to last paragraph.
Jan
19
comment Are the large moons of Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune still cooling and does this give and indication of their age?
This question might (or might not) be more likely to get a good answer at earth science stack exchange. (It's on topic here as well though.)
Jan
18
revised Why is the isothermal compressibility of the ideal boson gas larger than of the classical ideal gas?
There's no need to make a note of the edit, as there's an edit history feature.
Jan
18
asked What is the argument for detailed balance in chemistry?
Jan
13
comment What would happen to matter if it was squeezed indefinitely?
The phase diagram you link to does not show what you say it shows. Increasing the pressure sufficiently will always turn water into a solid, no matter the temperature.
Jan
11
comment How did Einstein arrive at the right hand side of his general relativity tensor equation?
Related: physics.stackexchange.com/q/30218
Jan
5
comment Why are large scale structures isotropic in the Ising model?
@alarge whether it's dynamics independent is difficult to say, as I don't have any Wolff algorithm code lying around to test it with. My intuition says I could probably come up with some crazy dynamical scheme that would result in obviously anisotropic quenching though, so I suspect it isn't.
Jan
4
comment Thermodynamics, chaperones : How to model polymer fragmentation
When you say "living polymers", do you refer to living polymerisation (a purely chemical phenomenon) or to biopolymers? I'm confused because the reference to equilibrium makes it sound like you're talking about the former, but chaperones are proteins that affect the folding of biopolymers. Or is this another sense of "chaperone" that you're talking about?
Jan
2
comment Why are large scale structures isotropic in the Ising model?
@YvanVelenik no, I mean the pattern that arises if you start at a high temperature and then rapidly drop it to below the critical temperature, then run it for a longish time (using e.g. Metropolis updating) but not for long enough to reach equilibrium. If you do that you get a pattern with a characteristic scale, which looks isotropic to the eye. Though I guess it might not really be isotropic, because it probably also depends on the surface tension. (Your comments were very helpful.)
Dec
31
revised How to work out the relation between the “mean relative speed” and the “mean speed”?
change to standard notation
Dec
30
comment Can one of Newton's Laws of motion be derived from other Newton's Laws of motion?
@Timaeus "this does not mean ... x(t)=x(0)" - I guess I just don't understand where you're getting that from. Neither I nor Newton nor anyone else ever made such a claim. I know Dhar's paper but I don't really see its relevance here.
Dec
30
comment What makes Sun's light travel as parallel beams towards earth?
I'm not familiar with the reference you cite, and the term "photon cloud" is not standard terminology, so I can't say anything about its width. You're right that the incoming photons criss-cross each other, but the point is that they only do it a bit. (If they didn't criss-cross each other, you wouldn't be able to form an image of the sun using a pin-hole camera.) The photons' paths differ from each other by at most the Sun's apparent diameter in the sky, which is about half a degree, so they're pretty close to parallel, which is why you can see sunbeams as distinct lines.
Dec
30
comment Weird phenomenon on aluminum laptop casing
I've experienced this before too. I agree with Cheeku that it's to do with poor earthing, and I believe the 'bumpiness' has to do with the 50 or 60 Hz frequency of the AC mains supply. However, I don't exactly what causes the sensation, and I'm curious, so +1.
Dec
30
answered What makes Sun's light travel as parallel beams towards earth?
Dec
29
comment Can one of Newton's Laws of motion be derived from other Newton's Laws of motion?
@Timaeus Newton's second law says the body stays at rest if there is no force. But if there's a non-zero jerk then at time $t+\delta t$ there is a force. There has to be one in order to cause the now non-zero acceleration. So there's no contradiction, and no problem with multiple values. This is all basic calculus, which Newton understood well, but his laws are written that way to explain it to people who don't.