While going through some of the old astro.SE questions, I've noticed some astrobiology questions among them. They were certainly on-topic there, and I've seen threads that indicate most of what was on-topic there is to be taken as on-topic here, but there might be objections that it is more in the realm of biology than physics.

I see three cases:

  • Astrobiology is decidedly on-topic.
  • Astrobiology is decidedly off-topic.
  • This is best handled case-by-case. For instance, questions about non-carbon-based life are better handled by biologists, while other questions might deal more with the temperatures and solar winds we'd expect exoplanets to experience in certain environments.

Opinions? Was this already discussed elsewhere?

  • $\begingroup$ I flagged them as off-topic but I wasn't sure. They might be better off on biology though. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Dec 10 '12 at 0:12
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 That's what prompted this question. To be honest, I'm not sure either. I think part of the problem is it's such a new thing, it doesn't quite belong anywhere yet. $\endgroup$
    – user10851
    Dec 10 '12 at 0:13
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I would say that astrobiology should be parsed out to the Biology.SE site. The requisite knowledgebase resides there more-so than here. If it's not for biologists to answer, then I would suspect that it would fall back to chemists (isn't biology just more complex chemistry?). $\endgroup$ Dec 10 '12 at 3:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @LarianLeQuella Obligatory reference: xkcd.com/435 - Migrate all the sites to Mathematics! $\endgroup$
    – casperOne
    Dec 10 '12 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @casperOne heheh that's the one I was thinking of when I wrote that. :) $\endgroup$ Dec 11 '12 at 1:40

If what I have learned about this history of the merger is correct, then anything that is on-topic for astronomy is on-topic here. Which to me means is on-topic here.

However, as always there are places that it might be more on topic if it doesn't deal with astronomy specifically. Life in microgravity isn't specific to astronomy per se and the biology world does extensive research on it here on Earth. So I think it may be like many of the "How do I write a program to help me solve this complicated physics problem" where it could be on topic here because it may relate to modeling but it might get more traffic on CompSci or StackOverflow.

For existing questions the best choice may be to leave in place as on-topic. For new questions, it may be a judgment call because it is on-topic here but they might get a better answer on Biology. So it might be worth leaving a comment suggesting that but otherwise leaving it untouched.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I guess "more traffic" isn't true -- more likely to be noticed by somebody who is an expert in that field is probably a better way to phrase it. $\endgroup$
    – tpg2114
    Dec 10 '12 at 0:28

Since we had the Astro merge, anything on topic there is on topic here.

BUT, we may not have that good a bio/astrobiology community here, and these may get neglected. I propose we look at the questions case-by-case. We can't close as off topic, BUT, if they do not have too many votes, we may migrate1 2. New questions on astrobiology, if any, probably should be migrated off.

The first choice for migration would be Bio. Chem...eh...not that much3. This question, for example, is "borderline". I would personally be reluctant to accept it, but I would discuss it with the other two mods.

1. It isn't that good an idea to migrate posts with too many votes to beta sites. But it is up to the receiving site's mods whether or not to accept a question in the end.

2. Posts older than 6 months can't be migrated anyway. Generally it is better to only migrate new posts.

3. This is my official stance as a Chem mod.


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