111 reputation
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bio website nathanielvirgo.com
location
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visits member for 1 year
seen Mar 15 at 2:16

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.


Mar
15
comment Perception of distant lights without glasses
@daniel I'm not sure if I can easily describe it in words. If I get a chance some time I will make a sketch.
Nov
8
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@GriffinEvo that's not to say there can't be any light. The sunlight that reaches a shady spot on a cloudy day on Earth is probably less than 1% (maybe much less) of the total energy provided by the Sun, and supplying that level of artificial light becomes much more feasible. But you still have to use plants that can cope with a 28-day dusk-daylight cycle.
Nov
8
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@GriffinEvo those things are all one-off costs. Lighting requires a continuous supply of energy. Maybe there are other options (fission, fusion) but the most obvious source for that energy is solar panels, and as I've discussed at length, the issue then becomes one of land area. The idea of agriculture is to maximise yield from a given area of land, and if half that land is occupied by solar panels then only half can have crops growing on it, which seems quite inefficient.
Nov
8
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@GriffinEvo the question I have asked is difficult and requires a considerable amount if expertise to answer. That is quite a different thing from being too broad, and I didn't think it was against the rules. It must definitely does have a specific answer. I completely disagree that it can be asked any more concisely than its current form, and when I edit it for clarity it will necessarily get longer. I have explained many times why modifying the day length won't work, and if you ignore that then you are simply not addressing the question.
Nov
7
awarded  Commentator
Nov
7
comment Growing crops on the Moon
I think I can re-write it to be clearer, but it will have to wait until I'm at my computer, either tomorrow or next week.
Nov
7
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@terdon again, most of the things you mentioned are already covered in the question. People keep bringing them up even though I already covered them, and I don't understand why. But Basically all the options you mention are possibilities, with the exception of artificial gravity, which is physically impossible (trust me, I'm an expert and know more of the underlying complexity) and artificial lighting unless it's kept to a minimum, for reasons already discussed. The question is aimed at someone with the knowledge and imagination to weigh those options up and arrive at a solution.
Nov
7
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@terdon yes, the quoted part can't be answered on its own. That's why the following section on background and clarification is necessary - but then people complained it was too long, so I can't win.
Nov
7
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@terdon there is only one question. It is stated in a quotation block at the top. The rest is clarification and background material - something which on most other stack exchange sites would be appreciated. I'm very happy to try and make it clearer, but if people keep just saying "it's unclear" without being specific about what they're having trouble with then there really isn't much I can do. Closing it would be perfectly reasonable if the question was against site policy, but it patently isn't, and the fact that the close votes are all for different reasons reflects this.
Nov
7
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@terdon I expected better from this community, but if they choose to close it it's their loss. I'm an expert from another field with what I believe is a perfectly specific and well-defined (if somewhat speculative) question about biology, and if that's not welcome here then I guess this just isn't the site for me.
Nov
7
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@fileunderwater if you can be specific about what you found unclear, I will gladly attempt to clarify it.
Nov
7
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@terdon I explained in the question that I'm aware of the relevant research pertaining to those issues (with the exception of the UV filtering, but that's trivially solved by coating the glass). However, there may be other issues that I haven't thought of. The question is about growing crops on the Moon, and these "I like your question but you should change it to a completely different question" comments are starting to bug me. I agree that a more generic question about adaptation to day length would also be interesting - please feel free to ask it yourself.
Nov
6
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@terdon I'm not talking about bases, I'm talking about large-scale agriculture. From basic thermodynamic considerations, providing a square kilometre of crops with full strength artificial daylight would require at least a square kilometre of solar panels, thus reducing the overall yield by 50%. Lunar agriculture might use some artificial light, but you'd really want to keep it to a minimum. I'll consider your suggestion, but I really am interested in the specific issues imposed by the Moon.
Nov
6
awarded  Student
Nov
6
awarded  Editor
Nov
6
revised Growing crops on the Moon
tried to make it clearer
Nov
6
comment Growing crops on the Moon
Sure - my thinking is that factors like water, soil quality, atmosphere etc. are easy enough to control if you already have the technology to build sealed greenhouses in a vacuum. Gravity can't be controlled at all, but if we can grow plants on the ISS then it should work on the Moon. That leaves the day length, which can only be changed using artificial lighting, which will need an expensive source of energy. So my guess is that the choice of which crop to grow would be mostly determined by its ability to cope with weeks of darkness.
Nov
5
comment Growing crops on the Moon
Thanks, but I did mention in the question that I'm aware of research on most of these issues. I'm asking if there is any research specifically on the day length issue, and also about which specific types of plant are most likely to be able to adapt.
Nov
5
comment Growing crops on the Moon
@GriffinEvo are long questions considered bad here? If so that makes me sad. I think I've set out quite clearly what I'm asking in the final three paragraphs - could you please be more specific about what you found unclear?
Nov
5
asked Growing crops on the Moon