2
$\begingroup$

The question in consideration is: Could there theoretically exist a material so light, that it can levitate in the air just due to the in height decreasing air pressure?

I think that's definitely a thought experiment discussing the underlying physical principles. If I understand it right, then the engineering Stack Exchange site only discusses topics about things that one could build in the real world.

I thought one can understand that the questioned material is not supposed to exist in the real world and the question is meant as testing the edge cases of some physical laws.

How can I make this clear in my question?

and

Can I ask the users responsible for closing the question for what reason they decided to to so?

They didn't even leave a comment explaining their point of view.

| |
$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ You seem to feel that there aren't engineering thought experiments. There are in the real world. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Mar 13 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ But don't you think that a Physicist is more likely to give you an appropriate answer than an engineer? $\endgroup$ – J.Doe Mar 13 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ I'd more think a chemist (say who makes metal-organic frameworks) or a materials engineer. There aren't many materials-focused folk on the Physics SE. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Mar 13 at 13:06
  • $\begingroup$ Note that that type of person that might be best at answering a question is not a criterion for if a question belongs on PSE. $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Mar 13 at 14:08
5
$\begingroup$

I am one of the users who voted to close the question for the reason given in the close banner:

This question appears to be about engineering, which is the application of scientific knowledge to construct a solution to solve a specific problem. As such, it is off topic for this site, which deals with the science, whether theoretical or experimental, of how the natural world works.

My view of this comes from the main part of your question

Can we theoretically build a material which is light enough or high enough (or both), that can levitate just due to the difference in pressure on the top vs. the bottom...

The specific problem you are trying to solve is "building a material that can levitate due to differences in air pressure between it's top and bottom". Your question is not about understanding any physics concepts. It actually looks like to me that you are knowledgeable about the physics concepts you are wanting to apply here.


To specifically address points you make in this meta post:

I think that's definitely a thought experiment discussing the underlying physical principles

Being a thought experiment doesn't guarantee that a question will be on topic for PSE. Additionally, asking if such a material can be made isn't really a thought experiment in my opinion. And as I mentioned above, I don't think your question is really asking about any underlying physical principles. It starts with physical principles and asks how to apply them to solve a materials problem.

I thought one can understand that the questioned material is not supposed to exist in the real world...

Typically questions that ask about non-physical things are not on topic for this site either, so I would not go this route. Although as seen in answers to your question, one could argue such materials do exist in the real world.

...and the question is meant as testing the edge cases of some physical laws

I don't see in your question where you ask about testing edge cases of certain physical laws. I'm also not sure what you mean by "edge case", as I wouldn't consider objects being buoyant in the air as anything "on the edge".

How can I make this clear in my question?

If your question was asking about how buoyancy works, how differences in pressure causes objects to float, how strong the buoyant force is for objects of a certain volume in air, etc. then your question would be more on topic for this site (assuming there weren't other issues, like a duplicate question, coming across as a low-effort homework-like question, being opinion based, etc.). In other words, your question needs to be about understanding physical principles.

Can I ask the users responsible for closing the question for what reason they decided to to so?

Yes, you can, but they aren't required to answer. The best you can do is ask in comments or here on meta. If no one else answers though then there isn't much else you can do. However, the close banner is supposed to be an explanation at least for what the majority of users who voted to close were thinking.

| |
$\endgroup$
2
$\begingroup$

I completely agree with Aaron Stevens' answer: the reason I voted to close is the one given in the close banner. That being said, the question is not terrible either, and it could make a nice post on some other website. There is a secondary reason, though, which tipped the scale and made me vote to close.

If the post had only 10 views, I probably wouldn't have bothered to interact with it in any way. But it became hot, and all of a sudden it had 7k views, most of them from other SE sites. I really think this question is a very bad representative of the kind of questions we want on Physics.SE, and so I felt it ought to be removed from the HNQ list. If we had a mechanism to remove questions from the list other than by voting to close, I would have used it. But alas, we don't, so closing it is our only tool. Sorry for that.

| |
$\endgroup$
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "If we had a mechanism to remove questions from the list other than by voting to close" $-$ uhhh, we do. We didn't use to, but now we do (and have done for a year, pretty much to the day); see this thread for details. Just raise a custom moderator flag saying that you think it should be de-HNQ'd. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Mar 13 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ Why would you decide to keep a question on the site that you think shouldn't be on the site? $\endgroup$ – BioPhysicist Mar 14 at 4:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .