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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.


May
21
comment Why does lightning generate multiple branches?
It's a great question with a very interesting answer, which I unfortunately don't have time to write right now. However, you might find some useful information by searching for the term "dielectric breakdown", which is the general term for the breakdown of an electrical insulator. (Lightning is a specific example.)
May
16
comment Plane Mirror as the Screen in Young's experient
This question is essentially the same as "what happens if I shine a flashlight at a mirror?" - I suggest you give that a try.
May
5
comment Is possible to create water?
Every cell in your body creates water all the time. As an animal, you breathe in $\mathrm{O_2}$ and eat food that to a first approximation has the chemical formula $\mathrm{CH_2O}$ (e.g. sugar is $\mathrm{C_6H_2O}$). Your respiration is a complex series of chemical reactions that convert these into $\mathrm{CO_2}$ and $\mathrm{H_2O}$. Making water is how you live.
May
5
comment What do the recent vacuum tests mean for the believability of NASA's EM Drive?
FWIW I think this is a question that deserves to be answered here. It might be more on topic on Skeptics though. (I don't know for sure, I'm not a participant there.) There have been a lot of articles praising the new success (mostly on obscure news sites, which is a bad sign), and if someone has the knowledge to address them from a less frothy perspective they'd be doing the public a favour.
Apr
28
comment Hydrogen-boron fusion
I don't see any reason to close this. It can trivially be reworded as "would this work, and if not, why?", which is a perfectly well-defined question. Even in its current form I can't really see how the claim of "too broad" can be justified.
Apr
26
comment Is angular momentum the conjugate momentum of an angle?
The question seems pretty clear to me. (The answer is just "yes.")
Apr
13
comment Singing for physicists: How to resonate by body cavities with my voice?
Although at heart this is a physics problem, I doubt there is much in the way of practical advice that can come from considering the physics from first principles. What you need are singing lessons - I imagine there are no end of appropriate tutorial videos on YouTube.
Apr
5
comment The unreasonable effectiveness of the partition function
One might also mention that the moment generating function is essentially the Laplace transform of the probability distribution, which (if the reader is familiar with Laplace transforms) explains why information isn't lost in calculating it.
Apr
3
comment Lower limits for steady-state black holes
Note that another potential difficulty is the control issue. A steady-state black hole in an environment of uniform density is at an unstable equilibrium, in that if it gets a bit too big it will start to grow, and if it gets a bit too small it will shrink. This can be countered by feedback control, but the smaller the black hole gets the more sensitive this is, and if it's really small it will almost instantly evaporate the moment there's a small negative fluctuation in the inflow rate. The fact that inserting matter gets harder as the size decreases only makes this worse.
Apr
2
comment What exactly is fire?
The first paragraph is not true in general. Most fire is actually a chain reaction in which radicals trigger the production of more radicals. A spark plug is not there to heat the fuel, it's to seed it with radicals. The heat feedback can be relevant for vaporising fuel as you say, but it's mostly not what causes the flame itself. (Though I believe it can be under high pressure.)
Mar
30
comment Can Black Holes Maintain Data Entropy When Formed By a Data Storage System?
@WetSavannaAnimalakaRodVance I would guess it's a matter of processing speed - if you're limited by the speed of light then you'd want your data storage to be as physically dense as possible.
Mar
23
comment Double slit experiment where the “particle” is a macroscopic capsule with people inside
This is an excellent question and not at all a trivial one. It is not at all a duplicate of the one linked above, and nor is it answered by that question's answers. (some people have cast close votes.)
Mar
23
comment Electricity should deform the conductor then why doesn't it?
The protons don't move, for exactly the reason you say - they are the nuclei of the atoms, so they can't. The electrons move from atom to atom, and this doesn't deform the conductor's shape because there are always new electrons coming in from the current source to replace the ones that have left.
Mar
23
comment Most True to Life Physics & Biology Simulation Engine?
It may not be quite what you're looking for, but there's a whole field called "physically based rendering" that tries to simulate the interaction between light and objects as accurately as possible. There are a couple of open-source renderers, called luxrender and mitsuba, plus some commercial offerings, though I haven't tried any of these myself.
Mar
21
comment Is purple in visible light?
(My above comment doesn't answer the question of course)
Mar
21
comment Is purple in visible light?
There is purple in a rainbow. The video commits the common fallacy of assuming that a rainbow and a pure spectrum are the same and then invents a cod-linguistic reason for why people say there is purple there. But if you look at an actual rainbow in the sky you will see the purple clearly. They are scattering phenomena and are more complex than the spectrum from a prism.
Mar
15
comment Reference about probability to study statistical mechanics
+1: This book takes a somewhat unusual approach to probability theory, but this is a good thing and the book cannot be recommended highly enough.
Mar
11
comment Chemical reaction A+B$\leftrightarrow$C. Equilibrium VS Non Equilibrium
(but it is nevertheless also on topic here.)
Mar
8
comment Does ambient day/night temperature change have significant energy generation potential
Why are people voting to close this? It's a very straightforward question with a very straightforward answer that can be derived from basic thermodynamics. (The Carnot limit.)
Mar
5
comment Are there nonlinear models of quantum mechanics which forbid superluminal signaling?
It's very sad to see a decent question downvoted for using unfamiliar technical terms. Voters please note that the question is referring to quite specialised literature in foundations of quantum mechanics, and as far as I can tell is a perfectly sensible one.