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I'm at a loss how to handle the comments below my question. They seem accusatory but not valid or thought out from a physics perspective.

this is the same (ridiculous) question posted in several forms by two members on three SE sites. It's time to bury this nonsense question.

It's not even an orbit. Dressing it up with geopotential waffle does not change that. If your question actually had no link to those other questions then why even mention them ?

The physics problem itself is not ridiculous; a ball, sliding (or driven) on a rod; the pair gravitationally bound to and in an inclined orbit around another mass. The rod-plus-ball has a quadrupole moment, as does the gravitational potential in which it orbits.

By modulating the quadrupole moment of the orbiter, torque can be varied throughout each orbit, and angular momentum exchanged between the two bodies.

The question linked in my question asks if there is a way to move the ball so that over one complete, inclined orbit the net angular momentum transfer is non-zero. This allows for a slow raising or lowering of the orbit by exchanging angular momentum with the central body. (Being much larger, it's resulting precession can be neglected.)

I don't know how to solve this orbit-raising/lowering problem, but here I've simply asked if this is a known problem, and if it has been solved already. As written, it seems like a perfectly valid Physics SE question and not worthy of the trouncing the user has given it. I don't know how to respond positively without evoking more "this question must die, here and now." sentiment.

I'd thought of rewriting the question to ask directly how to solve this problem (rather than if it is a known problem with known solution) but that might be seen as too similar to the linked question.

What would be a good and civil way to proceed in order to get to the bottom of the existence of a solution to this problem, or perhaps, solving it now?

Has this unusual orbital mechanical problem been addressed, or given a specific name?

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  • $\begingroup$ The question has just received its final close vote, with unclear what you are asking as the main reason. So far I don't see what is unclear about the question; I'd appreciate some help understanding in what ways this is unclear. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 6 '18 at 11:55
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    $\begingroup$ Your post here seems to be based on the assumption that the criticism made in the comments is valid. Don't take that for granted, though. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 6 '18 at 12:05
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    $\begingroup$ Since I cast a VtC, I should say that I didn't really understand what the problem you're describing is, so I could know if it's been studied/named or not. I also wasn't really sure why you mentioned the acceleration expressions. I don't agree with the 'geopotential waffle' comment because I don't know the context it was written in. $\endgroup$ – Chair Nov 7 '18 at 10:49
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    $\begingroup$ You need to remember that comments can't be downvoted, so we don't know if people disagree with the 'waffle' comment and just didn't bother to discuss that. $\endgroup$ – Chair Nov 7 '18 at 10:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Chair thanks for that. OK I'm going to do a full rewrite, this is really helpful. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 7 '18 at 10:51
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    $\begingroup$ A suggestion: don't make the question "has anybody studied this?" You could ask about how some aspect of it works, because if it has been studied, somebody will definitely mention that in their answer. $\endgroup$ – Chair Nov 7 '18 at 10:54
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I don't really find the question you're trying to ask as a good fit to the SE format.

Basically "has anyone researched or named this yet?" Either the answer is "yes - and it is named X"; or it's trying to prove a negative, which is very difficult.

Personally, I don't understand what a "good" answer to this question would be, beyond a reference to somewhere that it is given a name. This makes it a very poor conceptual question; which is generally what physics SE is about.

You also seem to reference a "problem"; but it's not clear from the question what you mean by that. Maybe it's just me being unfamiliar with the terminology; but I only see a set of equations, I don't see what the actual problem would be. I didn't vote on the question; but I can understand the votes.

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  • $\begingroup$ I see. "problem" is, can the orbit be raised or lowered by allowing the ball to move on the rod or driving it. After seven days, nobody has thought to mention why the question is unclear until your answer now. Thanks! I'd thought that was clear but probably because I've been thinking about it so much. I'll start working on formulating a revision. I'm trying not to duplicate the question that I've linked to. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 6 '18 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ But I think if all questions here of the form "has anyone researched or named this yet?" were to suddenly be considered off-topic and closable, the site would look a little different, and probably not for the better. In this case though, perhaps better wording will help. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 6 '18 at 12:17
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    $\begingroup$ Do you have any examples of questions asking "has anyone researched or named this yet?"? I really don't see many of them here, and I don't think I would consider them on-topic. $\endgroup$ – JMac Nov 6 '18 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ That's simply my feeling (thus the words "I think") and it's based on my collected memory of browsing questions over the last few years. With 100k questions to choose from it's probably possible to find several examples of almost anything. But I will happily go as far as "not the best fit" $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 6 '18 at 12:28

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