So far the scope of Physics Stack Exchange has been defined to exclude experimental technology questions, which are those questions about the devices that one uses to do physics, rather than about the physical principles they use. Some of these questions fit on Electrical Engineering, and there was a proposal on Area 51 that would have been a great home for these questions. However, that proposal is no more, and given that this site is well established with a steady flow of physical principles questions, is it time that we start to allow the questions about experimental technology?

Here is a recent example that prompted this question: Strategies against 50 Hz mains hum on detector signals?

See also Does the Area 51 proposal "Experimental or Applied Physics" duplicate this site?

  • $\begingroup$ "is it time that we start to allow the questions about experimental technology?" Yes.Absolutely. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


The mains hum one was a relatively simple EE problem, which was simple enough to stay on the scope of physics (AC rejector circuits seem pretty OK to me). But yes, it would have found a better home on EE.SE.

I would say that these should stay on topic. Multiple reasons:

  • This is the best place for them. (Experimental) physicists here will be familiar with experimental tech, and can provide detailed answers.
  • Experimental physics is a large part of Physics. Experimental tech does not focus on any concept, but neither does experimental physics. We can not afford to ignore experimental physics/tech on a physics site.
  • The general question of feasibility of a setup is a great one, and experimental tech is a large part of feasibility.

Update: I have created to hold such questions.

  • $\begingroup$ One of my own experimental tech questions: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/21020/… $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 20, 2012 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ I second Manishearth's reasons for keeping experimental-technology questions in sight of the physicists frequenting physics.stackexchange $\endgroup$
    – jasonh
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest the tag 'experimental technique' instead of 'experimental technology'. $\endgroup$
    – nibot
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ @nibot experimental-technique exists, but I'm not sure it has enough overlap. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 8:26
  • $\begingroup$ What's the difference? $\endgroup$
    – nibot
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 8:52
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @nibot technique has to do with setup and how to formulate an experiment taking real-world issues into consideration. Experimental technology has to do with the tech involved in physics.. The accuracy etc. Currently, experimental technique is allowed, technology isn't. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 9:02
  • $\begingroup$ Here's another example question, one of mine: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/94/… $\endgroup$
    – ptomato
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 9:32
  • $\begingroup$ @ptomato imo that's more experimental technique. Not experimental technology. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 9:35
  • $\begingroup$ I felt it was more like "what technology is available to solve this problem" although it is probably a little of both. $\endgroup$
    – ptomato
    Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 9:42
  • $\begingroup$ @ptomato well, it really depends upon your intentions. To me, it didn't look like you wanted technology advice--it looked more like you wanted help in formulating a setup. If it was the former, yes, it falls under both I guess. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2012 at 9:49
  • $\begingroup$ FWIW I wasn't being very precise with my usage of "experimental technology" in the question - I just meant questions which are about devices or procedures used to do physics and not about the physics concepts themselves. So perhaps both experimental-technique and experimental-technology would be appropriate, and likely more (since this proposal potentially doubles the scope of the site, I wouldn't expect all the new stuff to fit under one or two tags) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Mar 22, 2012 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ I just tried to use the experimental-technology tag and my question was tagged off-topic with votes to close. I think this is quite bad. This site's attitude that experiment doesn't count is really terrible and I would like to know what I can do to help fight for these questions to be accepted here. Here's the question: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/135259/… $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Commented Sep 13, 2014 at 21:18
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielSank that deserves a separate meta post. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 3:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Manishearth: Any suggestions on how to frame this so folks don't get offended? I am apparently not so good at this. $\endgroup$
    – DanielSank
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 5:41
  • $\begingroup$ @DanielSank Don't directly make general assumptions about the site's attitude/etc in the question, you ought to be fine. Approach it as something which we probably should discuss/incorporate into the engineering policy, without any presumptions :) $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 22:22

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