4
$\begingroup$

I have to be honest, I am seriously unsure as to whether applied/experimental physics questions would be welcomed here. There are a lot involved in theoretical physics (which is great), but, would applied and experimental physics just be looked down upon?

I am NOT talking about homework based experiments, I mean questions that relate to experimental and applied research. I am not seeing a great deal of support for this equally valid side of physics.

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ There are experimental questions in the site, although it seems that they are less than theoretical ones. And there are some experimental physicists, like dmckee and annav. $\endgroup$ – jinawee Oct 30 '13 at 13:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ They are welcome (I may have asked one or two myself). Though I'll let dmckee answer this one in full, he's the experimentalist. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 30 '13 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ I am getting that impression as, correctly or incorrectly, a lot meta posts seem to be inferring (on face value) that anything other than theoretical physics is considered non-professional by the community... example meta.physics.stackexchange.com/questions/5102/… $\endgroup$ – user29350 Oct 30 '13 at 19:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @UV-D Well, a certain group of meta-active users are interested in TP, specifically BSM physics and string theory (this was the primary focus of TheoreticalPhysics.SE which was merged into this site). This is not a majority of the site scope, though, nor is it a majority of the community. What you see on that post is that many users who ignore the experimental tags see a dichotomy of good theoretical questions and bad basic questions. But we have active experimentalists, and nobody considers experimental physics "bad" here as far as I can tell, they just forget to consider it at times. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 30 '13 at 22:42
  • $\begingroup$ We do have a couple of other users with practical solid-state experience, but none that I know of that are highly active. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Oct 31 '13 at 1:30
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ BTW--I do think that there are users on this site who don't respect what experimenters do and know. The only consolation that I can offer you is that most of them don't know what we do and know. And while everyone likes to joke about the culture-clash between theorists and experimenters I've only every met a few people who take it seriously. Of them, most were simply second-raters themselves (even by my standards, and I could be accused of being not-quite first-rate myself), and the other one was simply a [four letter anglo-saxon word redacted] not-very-nice-human-being. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Oct 31 '13 at 3:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @UV-D Also remember that the vocal users on Meta are not by default a cross-section of the community. They just happen to be the group of people who talk on Meta. Which is a subtle point we've had to remind said vocal group about as well. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Oct 31 '13 at 6:18
  • $\begingroup$ @UV-D: That question was not an attempt to say that Experimental Physics is off-topic. It' is not just advanced TP questions that have gone down recently, but EP too. $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Nov 15 '13 at 5:13
9
$\begingroup$

While they are not particularly active we have a number explicitly experimental tags

  • : The largest (by number of posts) of these tags. Rather a grab-bag in my opinion, with a number of superb questions and some abysmal ones as well.
  • : I think this tag has an unusually high fraction of good questions, but as they tend to be technical, involved and specialized there are a high proportion of unanswered questions here as well.
  • : I've never been quite sure what this tag is supposed to be. Cross-tagged with in places.
  • : How to do something interesting with minimal kit, a low budget and a high degree of safety. Fun questions and some of them are surprisingly deep.

Experimental physics is every bit as hard as theory and rather less glamorous (though easier to get a lucrative job with), so it does not attract as much attention from excitable, earnest beginners. Frankly, though it is far too small a community to sustain a separate site I think the experimental community here is actually achieving the level of sustained sophistication and quality that we'd like to see for the whole site.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this wholeheartedly, there are many great questions and answers under those tags. $\endgroup$ – user29350 Nov 15 '13 at 7:22
7
$\begingroup$

Yes, they are allowed and encouraged. People just tend not to ask them.

Here is a recent example of an excellent experimental question.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Wow! yes, I see what you mean - awesome question there! $\endgroup$ – user29350 Nov 15 '13 at 7:20
5
$\begingroup$

This is encouraging, very encouraging. Thank you for this.

I think the advice I will take from the replies here are:

  • There is a reasonably strong experimental physics, this is where I will focus on (and on any other question that I feel confident answering).

  • There is a minority of people who have the ignorant low view of experimental physics, they are irrelevant to me, but they are always welcome to ask/answer as always.

  • The true cross section of the members are here for the physics (experimental and theoretical) and not to be drawn in to the nonsense drama.

Some won't like this, but that is fine.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ Rather than incense people and cause more nonsense drama, may I recommend simply saying "The true cross section of the members are here for the physics (experimental and theoretical) and not to be drawn in to the nonsense drama." $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Oct 31 '13 at 7:52
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ After all, I wouldn't want people to think that it's a problem to continue to worship me. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Oct 31 '13 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 good point, the worship of you is never a problem ;) - I have edited accordingly $\endgroup$ – user29350 Oct 31 '13 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ @tpg2114 All hail Totally Pointless Guy the 2114th! $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 31 '13 at 13:04

You must log in to answer this question.