I want to ask a question about a phenomenon from a science fiction movie I saw recently. I looked for existing questions related to science fiction and found a wide range of feedback. For example, here are three questions I found and their current status:

Therefore, I must ask:

  • Are questions based on science fiction off-topic? The question that got 4 votes was actually considered off-topic in the Theoretical Physics Q&A Area 51 proposal.
  • If asking about science fiction is not a problem, then what are the characteristics of an acceptable question and those of an unacceptable question?

1 Answer 1


I would say that questions related to the purported physics in speculative fiction are fine as long as they stick to physics. That is, it is OK to find your motivation in SF and even to reference a well known book, but not every plot element from a book that you find in the Sci. Fi. aisle is fair game.

In particular, anything that is based on a presumed breakthough (i.e. not found in current science) is going to be a bit shaky.

Also, I feel that you must describe the physics situation in enough detail that a reader need not go to the book to figure out what is being asked. That last bit is the biggest failing of "Orbital mechanics of Dragon's Egg" as I see it.

You can see from your examples that the consensus is not really tight just now. I am not a big fan of high speculative questions: there is no way to judge the correctness of answers (well, there may be ways to judge some really incorrect, but...) aside from simple popularity.

side note: The theoretical physics proposal is different from this site.


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