A new Area 51 proposal "Experimental or Applied Physics" was recently created.

While I've looked at your FAQ, I don't know the field well enough to be comfortable making the call on my own—which brings me here.

Can y'all review that proposal, and give your opinion here as to whether their on-topic questions would all be welcome on this site?


  • $\begingroup$ A question that appeared on Physics.SE that might be a better fit for Experimental or Applied if it goes live: Measuring concentration. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ It isn't a duplicate, that's certain. Because, this site is (and if you check the questions, mainly) also about theoretical physics, not just experimental. And as I said earlier, this site is mainly (judging from the questions, not the criteria) about theoretical physics. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2013 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ Hm. The Area 51 proposal "Experimental or Applied Physics" has been deleted :( $\endgroup$
    – Qmechanic Mod
    Commented Dec 26, 2021 at 23:27

3 Answers 3


As the proposal is brand new it is hard to be sure, but my first inclination is to guess that everything (or at least very nearly everything) that is on-topic for the proposal will also be on-topic for Physics.SE.

Certainly the original two examples with one vote each

  • Will photoresist [X] work in process [Y], and if not why? (on-topic)
  • What is your favorite way to bake a vacuum chamber? (not a great example)

seem to in keeping with our practice on Physics.SE. The newly added example

  • How should I remove rust/stains from my optics table without compromising its flatness?

is well chosen to explore the possible seem between the two proposals. I would judge that to be on-topic on Physics>SE, but I am an experimenter. How do other's feel about this?

I will try to provide examples of several classes of experimental technique and applied physics questions from Physics.SE (and trying to select those that would be interesting to grad students and those further on in their careers in keeping with the proposal).

The Jargon (not generally discussed with undergrads)

Instrumentation, calibration, and technique

Data analysis & Computation

Collaboration skills and Culture

Physics Education at the Graduate Level and Up

Frankly there is not as much there as I (an experimenter, after all) would have hoped, but I claim that we are welcoming of these matters.

I won't guess at akeshet's motive for opening a new proposal (I fear that he dropped by during one of our outbreaks of pop-sci-quantum-philosophers), but I think the questions he envisions would be welcome here and that we have some expertise in these matters already on-baord.

Edit 5-Sept-2011: Since this discussion I have been trying to take note of those questions on Physics.SE that would be candidates for ExperimentalPhysics.SE (or whatever).


I don't really know what light this sheds on the proposal. Clearly we are still getting very few greasy-handed practical experimental questions; whether that means there are few that people want to ask the internet of Physics.SE has chased away everyone who wants to ask them I do not know.

  • $\begingroup$ I'll make the CW so that others can more easily add to the lists. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 4:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I know I'm kind of late to the party, but I would be inclined to call "How should I remove rust/stains from my optics table without compromising its flatness?" off topic on physics.SE. My reasoning is that it's about a tool used to do physics rather than the physics itself. Perhaps I'm somewhat biased as a theoretician, but the question about the optics table seems like the experimental equivalent of, say, a question about Mathematica syntax, which I would also consider off-topic at this site (because Mathematica, like an optics bench, is just a tool used to do physics). $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Jun 13, 2011 at 19:42

I don't seem to have enough Physics reputation to make a "comment" here unfortunately, so I'll have to make it an "answer" (StackExchange's reputation system is nice an all, but it sure makes it hard to escape the initial cone of silence...)

Firstly, thanks for being interested in the experimental physics proposal! I guess my main motive was that there are very few "research-level" questions at all on physics.SE. Which is fine, for a general-purpose general-public Q&A site. I've seen a meta discussion here asking where research level questions should go (Theoretical Physics? but that seems to by definition exclude experimental research-level questions).

As an experimentalist, my day-to-day work mostly involves tackling problems that would be utterly irrelevant and uninteresting to professional theoretical physicists, or to general public enthusiasts (Will this kapton tape outgassing be a problem in my vacuum chamber? How can I identify damage to the the AR coating on this lens? How should I remove rust/stains from my optics table without compromising its flatness?). Nevertheless, I think there are a lot of other experimentalists "out there" somewhere, maybe far from stackexchange, who could share answers to these ubiquitous if prosaic questions.

I could also try asking questions of that type here, and see what happens. But those example questions, though they are very relevant to experimentalists, hardly seem like "Physics".

  • $\begingroup$ A week prior, I also created a "Optics/Photonics/Lasers" proposal on area 51. Perhaps if Experimental Physics or Engineering and Applied Sciences then that one would be unneeded. $\endgroup$
    – akeshet
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, and yes, I think I may also have been swayed by the seeming dominance on physics.SE or questions either on interpretations of QM (which is interesting and all, but at the end of the day most working physicists come to terms with the weirdness), or what I call "general interest high-energy theory" which I find utterly uninteresting and a waste of time for all involved. But I'll give it another shot. $\endgroup$
    – akeshet
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 18:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is basically what I figured you were thinking. There are a lot of potential questions of this sort which aren't really about physics, but are relevant to experimentalists - not only physicists, but also other scientists who have to work with lab equipment. So you might actually want to call the proposal "Experimental Science." But do consider whether there is any overlap with the EE site or perhaps even the DIY site. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 23:41
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Plus, the only reason there are so few research-level questions on physics.SE is that the people who would be asking those sorts of questions all saw that there were very few of them and decided it wasn't worth trying to ask them. The level of this site has been steadily rising since its early days. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 23:43
  • $\begingroup$ I would recommend (atleast until your proposal goes beta) to please ask these questions here and see if they get good answers. Maybe this will also bring in more experimentalists. (To my knowledge two are quiet active already- Anna V and Dmckee, I think are experimental HEP people) $\endgroup$
    – yayu
    Commented Jun 2, 2011 at 13:45
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Experimental physics seems like it would be an excellent subject for Stackexchange. There's a lot of esoteric knowledge on experimental techniques that is not easily accessible by other means; this is true in pure math and programming, and is the perfect setting for a StackExchange. Good luck on your proposal. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2011 at 6:03

Since the existing answers are perhaps a little unclear, let me post one that is and people can vote on it as necessary: no, the Experimental and Applied Physics proposal does not duplicate this site. E&AP would be for questions about the tools and devices used to do experiments in physics, whereas this site is about the physical principles that underlie the experiments. We have closed a few questions here which I think would be right at home at E&AP.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .