Right so I posted a question about something (not really important because the response is the important part).

One of my responses (who I believe flagged the article) complained that it was not Physics because it was engineering.

Now I know a few engineers and there is no doubt that what they do is Physics and all you need to do is look at what they study (the nature and properties of matter and energy) and know that they love thermodynamics more than most to know that engineering is Physics.

So what is up with that? Are pure physicists just afraid of engineering questions because it is a new spin on what they already know or are non-traditional Physics questions banned?

Just wondering, because it seems we might need an engineering SE otherwise.

TL;DR If engineering is physics based can it be on the Phys.SE?

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ We have an Engineering Stack Exchange already... It's in beta but it looks quite active. $\endgroup$
    – user191954
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 9:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Did you read the FAQ on engineering questions here? It seems to me that it answers your questions $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ I forgot to add this in my previous comment... we also have a full-fledged Electrical Engineering stack exchange. Though it wouldn't be remotely relevant for the question you posted, it's something to keep in mind. $\endgroup$
    – user191954
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 10:34
  • $\begingroup$ After reading it I see no reason why one cannot ask questions about the properties of materials so long as a specific property is suggested e.g. asking about which material is the closest to a black body emitter would be fine. $\endgroup$
    – P.Lord
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ Take a look at this well-received question on engineering SE. It's one of the highest-voted questions in their 'materials' tag. Your question could be of a similar format, given some constraints. $\endgroup$
    – user191954
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ Of course engineering is based on physics (and chemistry, and ...). But, something like material selection is an engineering decision based on specific criteria - this is no longer physics. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 13:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Applied physics is a part of physics. I do not like it that all these duplicate question about highbrow stuff and about QFT homework are fine here, but that applied-physics question s get closed and moved all the time. $\endgroup$
    – user137289
    Commented Aug 7, 2018 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


Physics is for questions that ask about physics concepts mainly.

Many engineers like physics, because engineering often applies physics, so there is some overlap. In this question; you're applying physics for material comparisons, and essentially asking which is best suited to a purpose. This type of material selection is far more engineering than physics.

If you wanted to know why materials behaved as they did, you could probably make that an on-topic question; but you would have to formulate the question differently, and it probably wouldn't answer exactly what you want to find out.

  • $\begingroup$ Surely questions like "which material out of these best conducts heat and why?" Would be allowed though? $\endgroup$
    – P.Lord
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ @P.Lord A question like "why does this material conduct heat better than another?" is probably okay. The "which material conducts more heat" aspect isn't on topic. That's just looking up material properties, and isn't much of a conceptual physics question. It's like chairs comment mentions, you could ask a question here that would allow you to determine the material properties that would get the effects you want. It's not really on topic for us to compare the materials for you. $\endgroup$
    – JMac
    Commented Aug 2, 2018 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ I deleted a few comments that were replies to other comments that had been deleted by their poster. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 21:55

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