I'd like to discuss the relevance ("on-topicness") of questions regarding the effects of physical influence on biologic organisms, specifically humans.

Recently, there have been these two questions:

The first one was closed for being off-topic (not for showing little effort to find a solution on Google). The second one has not been touched. I fail to see the difference.

I understand that it is problematic to give medical advice on StackExchange but that's not the point. I could except closing the questions on those grounds.

It is my understanding that the evaluation of the effects of radiation or strong fields is part of physical research. There are questions involved regarding the penetration depth and the scattering or interaction rates when radiation travels through organic tissue. For example, we have a group at our physics department doing simulations of the absorption of radiation emitted by cell phones with different antenna designs in the human body. Those things are beyond the scope of what biology can do and there are physicists working on it so I fail to see how that just isn't physics.

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    $\begingroup$ I can't speak for the on-topicness, as I don't spend a lot of time here; but I can say that the two questions are at least very different in terms of tone and scope. The first, "is wifi safe for humans", is very generic and is one of those topics that easily degrades into a factless debate due to its "hot" nature (with correct and established evidence ignored). The second, "is it possible to kill a human with a powerful magnet" is a much more specific question with less likelihood of degeneration (note that it is different than "are magnets safe for humans"), but still not a great question. $\endgroup$
    – Jason C
    Jun 20, 2014 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ I.e. the former attracts more eye rolling ... Maybe all SE sites should add "face palm" as a legitimate close reason. $\endgroup$
    – Jason C
    Jun 20, 2014 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Jonas - My personal opinion is that (Phys-Bio) type of questions should be welcome on both Physics.SE and Biology.SE, with some kind of platform where people from both sides could answer relevant aspects of the question. I'm speaking of collaboration. I'm not very fond of these ques either, but the same could apply to some other issues that are worthy of consideration. I can't help feeling that we shut out many issues just because we feel that as physicists, we are not equipped to provide a well-rounded answer, covering all aspects. You made a good point with your question. :) $\endgroup$
    – 299792458
    Jun 29, 2014 at 5:13
  • $\begingroup$ Without expecting every physics teacher to be a Leonardo daVinci, it would seem that there would be enough people (working in universities, NASA, etc.) with a double major to provide answers to questions relating such basic sciences as physics and biology, although the question might have to sit around for quite a while without a reply: If this would seriously be felt to have the potential for slowing operation of the site appreciably enough to reduce its use, perhaps a time limit, prior to closure of such questions, could be established. An answer might require expertise in cybernetics. $\endgroup$
    – Edouard
    Nov 23, 2021 at 17:30


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