I tried to ask a Theoretical Physics question, then I found that the Theoretical Physics Stack Exchange site has been closed.

Now what should I do?


Yep ask here, we like theoretical physics too ;-)

Some questions that have been on the former theoretical physics SE site or new ones, that would have been appropriate for it, are labeled with the "research-level" tag.

Here you can see (beside the Astronomy questions which we have saved too) a list of all the TP.SE questions that were imported. We have successfully saved all of them I think.

What went wrong with TP.SE was discussed for example at our meta by questions marked with the tag "site-salvage". In my opinion, the basic proplem was that the SE network does not allow for smaller, high quality content sites, which are of interest to a smaller community and therefore have lower, traffic, a slower growth rate, etc ...


As described here, the content of the former Theoretical Physics SE site has been made human readable, editable, and reclaimable by its owners such that these discussions can continue or be taken up again in principle.

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    $\begingroup$ here, moderators don't like theoretical physics question, thats why they closed my question $\endgroup$ – Neo Nov 17 '12 at 11:53
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    $\begingroup$ No, that's really not true. Questions get closed because they're inappropriate for one reason or another and need to be improved. Pretty much anything that gets closed here would also have gotten closed on Theoretical Physics. $\endgroup$ – David Z Nov 20 '12 at 14:19

Please read the Stack Exchange blog post "When a Site Grows Quiet" about the fate of TheoreticalPhysics.SE and Astronomy.SE. If, you still have questions, then meta, not the main site is the place to bring them up.


TP.se was closed because of low traffic. That's it.

This is a .com - it's about the $, not the \hbar.

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    $\begingroup$ Yeah but I'm still confused about how exactly they're making their money. $\endgroup$ – Physiks lover Nov 29 '12 at 4:18
  • $\begingroup$ talked to some se-crowd about 1.5yr ago. keep in mind its a startup where the business model fluctuates & is not solidified. currently it seems they make quite a bit of their revenue from job placement in tech fields & working with companies to find/locate talent. otherwise there is some revenue from advertising. a large part of se traffic comes not so much from regulars but from search engines (google). so a big part is building indexable content for search engines. this is indeed not clear to many on the site. $\endgroup$ – vzn Dec 10 '13 at 21:44

Let me repeat in case it is not clear from the other answers that:

  • Theoretical physics questions are on-topic on Phys.SE, and more than welcome.

  • All$^1$ Q&As from TP.SE have been transferred in 2013 to Phys.SE and most (if not all) are open for new answers.


$^1$ Except for a handful or two, which were migrated to TCS.SE.


This is not an answer but a hopeful comment: Maybe some of the most active individuals from the defunct Theoretical Physics stackexchange could form a similar page outside the .stackexchange domain, just like MathOverflow.net.

  • $\begingroup$ MathOverflow is out of the StackExchange domain, but it is still a SE site. $\endgroup$ – peterh - Reinstate Monica Apr 30 '18 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ @peterh Not at the time this answer was written. The MO migration to the (managed) SE 2.0 platform was in mid 2013. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Apr 30 '18 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Good to know :-) Thanks! $\endgroup$ – peterh - Reinstate Monica Apr 30 '18 at 23:21

Theoretical physics was a site which attempted to produce a class-structure of "high end" and "low end" questions, so that people who are professionals won't have to mix with the hoi-polloi of students and laypeople. It is both taxing in terms of time and humiliating in terms of standing for professionals to be on an equal level with all others. They don't like it, as they spend a large fraction of their lives trying to acquire some sort of social standing that makes their proclamations more attention-worthy than that of the average person.

I don't like this, it really doesn't sit well with me. I think the social mechanism is no longer necessary, now that people can easily answer easy questions and easily discuss the tough ones. The best questions of a theoretical sort are often those which are so outlandish, that only outsiders are allowed to ask them at first. "Is light a particle?" would have been such a question in 1905, and Einstein's early realization that this is an important line of investigation made him a bit of a pariah for 15 years, as nobody else was able to see through the fog of political rejection of this idea, left over from the 18th/19th century form of the debate, which was closed by Fresnel.

The openness has its problems, there are always more annoying questions which are not particularly informed, but it has the advantage of no political hierarchy to censor things, and the gains are greater than the loss in my opinion. This is why it is not a disaster that TP was closed, and it is also part of the reason I always felt uncomfortable there: there was a lot of throwing around of fancy terms on that site, although much of the topics overlapped. Also, it was hard to write on that site, as the requirement of separation from this site required you to have something abstruse in an answer, so that you don't muck up the discussion.

This is academic conventions for writing, and it is not really compatible with free exchange of ideas. Generally, it doesn't harm physics too much, since people eventually get the hang of the calculations and jargon, and then blend into a field. But this merging with the herd of professionals comes at the cost of intellectual independence, and there is this constant tension.

So TP was closed, and merged with this site. Nearly all the professional physicists left. This is sad, but one can soldier on. The only thing is to arrange the upvotes appropriately, so that difficult research questions have a large number of upvotes, while easy homework questions are answered with a one-liner or closed.

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    $\begingroup$ Upvoted, as a negative rep against this considered reply didn't sit well with me! But I think the elitism mentioned in your first para is probably in general more outweighed by the practical "sorting the wheat from the chaff" consideration, in that professionals don't want to waste time sorting through a load of high-school and undergrad level questions to find the few research level discussions of more interest and relevance to them. $\endgroup$ – John R Ramsden Nov 25 '12 at 12:22
  • $\begingroup$ Not naming names, it's remarkable that quite a few high powered academics at the cutting edge of research still hang around here - why? Possibly they have an eye on teaching eventually, or have heard the story of how the Dedekind Cut came about. $\endgroup$ – Physiks lover Nov 29 '12 at 4:16
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    $\begingroup$ -1: The first paragraph is strictly point-of-view -- several of the statements ("professionals won't have to mix...", "humiliating...", etc.) are simply opinion and can't be proved or disproved. There's no way to say the extent to which the sentiments attributed to "professionals" are actually held by them. If Ron can stick to giving good physics answers and leave the polemic against "professionals" behind the site will benefit. $\endgroup$ – MarkWayne Dec 5 '12 at 4:30

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