Currently there is a terrric question open asking how to measure surface area. It is clear that from an engineering perspective there would be a variety of different methods proposed, while from a mathematical perspective the answer is "ill defined question".

I would like to re-ask the question on the Math.SE and Engineering.SE websites, but I would like to stress the emphasis on receiving their professions' perspective. Would such questions be simply closed as dupes? Would the community value or disparage these two additional questions on the SE network?

EDIT: I've asked the question on Engineering.SE. I decided not to ask on Math.SE as the mathematical perspective on the question seems to be well-represented and conclusive on the original Physics.SE question.

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    $\begingroup$ In general, if you ask on this site's meta whether a given question would be on-topic elsewhere, our answer will always be limited by "... but you should check with them, in any case". $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 11 '19 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty: I'm sure that the question is on topic for both those sites. The question is if the near-dupes would be appreciated or disparaged. $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Nov 11 '19 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ Again, the details of that will depend on the sites involved, and you need to ask them. We can provide rough guidance, but ultimately our word on what is or is not on-topic elsewhere on the network is worth very little compared to what they have to say. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Nov 11 '19 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ I disagree that the physics post came to a conclusion on the matter of how fractal-like a stone's surface is. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Nov 12 '19 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ @dotancohen Engineering.SE is an even worse place for that question than Math or Physics. I gave +1 for the question initially, because it is an intriguing question, but if you look at the guy who asked the question you will find that he just seeks to ask questions that will attract alot of attention. $\endgroup$ – Kostas Nov 20 '19 at 11:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Kostas: I did not notice the post history of the OP. Ad homenin aside, it is an interesting question though. For volume (3 dimensions) we have a very easy test: the Archimedes principal. For length (1 dimension) we can also measure the object easily. But to determine surface area (2 dimensions) there really is no simple test. I find that fascinating. $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Nov 20 '19 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @dotancohen Read my answer, there is a simple formula for convex case: 4 times the average shadow (area) of the object. If it is not convex, then forget it. $\endgroup$ – Kostas Nov 23 '19 at 20:30

In general, it's highly discouraged to post the same question on multiple sites. But when people say that, they're usually talking about copying and pasting the same question from one site to the other. If you edit the question and adapt it to each site, then it might be okay. It would be even better if you focus each version of the question on what another site hasn't been able to cover - that is, for example, make the math.se version ask about something that isn't part of the physics.se version or the engineering.se version.

Of course, it may go without saying but just to be clear, it'd be up to you to check whether the question you want to ask on each other site is actually on topic there.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you David. Of course, those two sites are very relevant for the question at hand. In fact, as currently worded, I would say that the engineering site is a better fit for the question than the physics site. $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Nov 11 '19 at 8:11
  • $\begingroup$ Given the nature of the mathematical and physical sciences, I think it is common for an inquisitive mind to have multi-faceted questions regarding some topic. Some facet(s) of such a question may be specific to, say, physics (or chemistry), whilst others may be specific to, say, mathematics. It seems to me that this fact should be obvious to anyone who has studied these areas. In such a situation, it seems clear to me that the only appropriate course of action is to ask similar, but appropriately-modified, questions, that are catered to the website/domain in question. [...] $\endgroup$ – The Pointer Nov 18 '19 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ [...] I have done this multiple times, and, assuming you've devoted time and effort into thinking about the question, it is an excellent way to gain a solid understanding of something. In fact, my understanding is that this is a well-known learning strategy: "looking at something from different perspectives" (say, both physical and mathematical), or something like that. $\endgroup$ – The Pointer Nov 18 '19 at 18:13

I think the answer supplied by David Z is a great way to proceed. IMHO I don't think this surface area question belongs on Physics SE as it stands though. I think it belongs on Engineering SE.

It would be more suited for Physics SE if it asked about what many people are debating in the comments and in the answers, which is how "fractal-like" a stone really is and at which spatial scales the surface area is well-defined (if at all).

I am unsure about the question's place on Mathematics SE, since I would assume they don't care about what the stone looks like at various spatial scales, but I have not spent enough time on that site to know how physical they will go in their questions.

  • $\begingroup$ Exactly because it is apparently a fractal issue, I believe that the question would be a good fit for Math.SE. This is a classic case of "looks easy, but is really impossible" which is pretty much what mathematics excels at. And though it seems impossible, there is a chance that someone there may provide an insight on a practical method of integrating the answer. $\endgroup$ – dotancohen Nov 11 '19 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ @dotancohen I agree that mathematicians work with fractals... but I feel that would be like saying "Mathematics deals with linear algebra, so let me ask a quantum mechanics question there." The question involves mathematical concepts, yet those mathematical concepts are pretty physically involved as well, hence my apprehension about posting it on Math SE. But like I said, I have not been involved in that community very much, so I might be off there. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Nov 11 '19 at 14:33

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