I am not complaining, neither I am any kind of rebel here. I am just asking that isn't physics all about the physical phenomenon that used to happen everyday, every second around us. Isn't it's about the application of mathematics in our daily life to build something what we really refer as engineering. Then why we can't ask the numerical based question on the site.

Last time when I asked a question based on Electrostatics which was having a capacitor circuit and we'll have to find some of the information of the circuit which included power, current through the capacitors and other information. But the following day my question was closed saying that "this question is user specific and can't help other user to get their answer....blah...blah!". I didn't understand that what is meaning of physics if we keep it limited to Einstein's theory of relativity, instead we should try to come up to use physics in such a way which can help us in simplifying our way of life.

Please note that here I am not trying to promote the low grade numerical based question that we could by just applying some famous physicists formula. Rather numerical are beyond that, believe me. We should cope with them.

I rather need your views on this.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure I understand what you're asking, but perhaps it would help if you link to the question you asked so we can clarify exactly why it was put on hold? $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Jun 28, 2014 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ Because very few people can learn from someone else's numerical example. Just because something is "physics" doesn't necessarily make it allowed on the main site. A question must be useful to others as well. $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2014 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ This isn't a direct answer to your question, but just a comment on your third sentence. I (and I think many others) would say physics is not about engineering. As phrased in this faq, "physics seeks to break down the world around us into more modular parts and more fundamental relations, while engineering seeks to reassemble those pieces into a new form." That is, many of us find physics interesting in its own right; we don't justify it based on what engineering it enables. $\endgroup$
    – user10851
    Jun 29, 2014 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ As a current physicist and former engineer, I'd like to just say that physics might be given much of its grant money in the hopes that some exciting new technologies arise, but physicists do it out of (more or less) pure curiosity. In engineering, we apply what physicists made. We take the conceptual and numerical data and theories and apply them to solve problems in everyday life. Engineers are trained not to know understand how to create the science, but they know how to understand what physicists say and how to apply that. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Jun 30, 2014 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ Physics does not need to tailor what it does for real-world applications. Physicists do what they do to better understand the universe around them. It is completely the job of engineers to take this work and imagine new and exciting uses for it. So no, physics isn't all about application. Engineering is all about application; physics is about describing the physical world. As such, here we discuss concepts and non-specific problems. There is no requirement for physicists to be mindful of applications of their science (though sometimes it is polite) $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Jun 30, 2014 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ Ok, You guys had really made me feel that what really physics mean here, I am really thankful to you all. Also @Jim So what you are really trying to convey that we can't ask that kind of application on physics site and we should have an another stackexchange site for it. Do you think that we really need it even when we are having a site like this one? I am asking this from others also. $\endgroup$
    – Saharsh
    Jun 30, 2014 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Alpha Application questions are certainly not unwelcome. But solving specific problems is the role of engineering. To address physics solutions to common scenarios likely to be encountered by more than a select few, that is certainly welcome on this site. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Jun 30, 2014 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ IMO the answer is "it depends" (e.g. on the subfield of physics, academic vs. industrial) The boundary can be hazy between applied physics and research and development engineering in, say, fields like optics or acoustics. The boundary is more sharply defined between, say, general relativity and civil engineering. $\endgroup$
    – paisanco
    Jul 2, 2014 at 2:55
  • $\begingroup$ @bogeyc I agree that there are some sharp boundaries between physics and engineering but I think that it's also not 'that' much far away from that. At least we can have another 'applied physics' site for our industrial application purpose. $\endgroup$
    – Saharsh
    Jul 2, 2014 at 14:05

1 Answer 1


If you will allow me the indulgence of addressing this answer to what I perceive your situation to be, I think we might make some progress.

Judging for your posts I'd guess that you are near the beginning of your studies in physics--and presumably doing well because the conceptual understanding embedded in your writing is quite good for a beginner---and that colors how you think about physics just as my situation colors mine.

The post that you are describing as "applications" I would describe as "textbook conceptual question". They are solved immediately by anyone who understands the relationships between the abstract representations that we use and the physical reality that goes with them. You gave a perfectly good answer to the capacitance question, but it consists of connecting the verbal representation of the problem ("charge drawn from a battery") to the mathematical representation ("Q \propto C_{eq}"). The accepted answer to the same question connects the verbal version with a pictorial version and is also correct and useful to the asker. It is typical that there are at least three useful representations of every physics concept and moving between them is sometimes difficult for beginners but is generally very easy for more experienced practitioners.

As you continue in your studies you will find that fluent moves between multiple representations of a single problem are a foundation skill. In fact I know at least one Physic Education Researcher who defines upper-division level thinking in terms of fluency with multiple representations and differing levels of abstraction.

Consider the difference between that capacitance questions and the recent one about the relationship between coin masses and the noise they make on hitting a hard surface (that is a pretty advanced example, but it is to make the point).

Some more posts with which to exhibit different levels of sophistication:1

  • Observations in the cathode ray tube experiement Here the asker is having trouble applying what they know (or should) know about atoms and cathode rays to a real world problem. The explanation requires an understanding of the environment inside a CRT, and the integration of three physical concepts.

  • How to choose a α, β, γ measurement detector? This question is about the strategy for apply physics knowledge to a design problem and is really too broad. My "answer" simply explains how big the field is and give a couple of vague generalities. People build industry careers on knowing how to do that.

  • How can scintillation gamma-spectrometers work given that track length is different for different angles? A practical application question for which the answers are well known. This would be a textbook question for a student just beginning to study the experimental aspects of nuclear or high-energy physics. Again, the answer required knowing several physics facts: how gammas interact with matter: how light propagates in scintillation counters and is converted to latchable electronic signals, something about the geometric limitations of hodoscopes.

  • How are the masses of unstable elementary particles measured? Another experimental particle-physics question. There are several different answers and knowing which ones to use is a matter of experience.

  • How quark electric charge directly have been measured? An application question at a moderately high level of sophistication; this requires a pretty sophisticated understanding of experimental particle physics technique and theory.

  • Solar neutrino predictions Not really a "application" questions but a "state of the discipline" one. Requires lots of familiarity with what has been done, but not a lot of physics.

1 I've taken these examples from my area of expertise because I knew I could find them quickly, but the site has examples at many levels of sophistication from many different areas of physics.

  • $\begingroup$ I really respect your way of explaining. Also I understand what you are trying to say. But above in my question as discussed by @Jim, he is trying to say that application should be included in Engineering, I had made rest of my comment there. $\endgroup$
    – Saharsh
    Jun 30, 2014 at 14:48

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