While I am not too bothered about the level of questions per se on this site so far, I am slightly disturbed by the lack of any quantitative questions.

The existing range from high-school to undergraduate level, with a lot of 'enthusiasts' questions. They also tend to be very qualitative/overview-based, and either very narrow or in the odd case very wide-scoped questions.

So I wonder: where are the typical quantitative physics questions one might expect on a site like this? Exam questions, perhaps, or longer problem-solving based ones? Physics is a quantitative science (has been for over 400 years), and as such mathematics is highly important with in. I have however visited this site daily for the last week or so and seen astonishingly few "proper" (quantitative or semi-quanitative) questions.

Has anyone else noticed this issue; does anyone share this view? If so, what can we do about it?

  • $\begingroup$ Cheers for fixing the typo. I typed this pretty late at night. :P $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 14 '10 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ Someone downvoted this? $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Jul 18 '13 at 15:09

Usually when you can formulate well a quantitative questions, then you can answer it as well. Of course there may be exceptions, but well, no one forbids to ask them!

Existence of a definitive answer should never be a criterium of asking a question in physics. It is not maths and the most fundamental thinks usually are such in which we do not even now if we are asking the right questions. Definite numerical answer is only guaranteed for some textbooks problems.

Anyway, sometimes quantative answers are natural, see e.g. In optics, how does the vacuum state compare to thermal radiation?

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    $\begingroup$ No indeed, I think you slightly misinterpret me. A definite answer is not necessary, but there should be a clear idea of what constitutes a correct answer. What I am against is the abundance of airy-fairy questions I've noticed recently. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 14 '10 at 2:35

I'm much more likely to be able to answer a quantitative question on my own than a qualitative question. If I can't solve a problem I'm trying to work through, I usually can look up the solution online or in a book, or can put it in Mathematica, or can simulate it.

What I need humans for is when I have a conceptual question that I'm not sure how to get at. What would be a decent model for XXX phenomenon? How can we give a clear operational definition of XXX concept?

I think it's fairly reasonable to have more of these conceptual questions than quantitative ones.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm afraid I have to disagree. Qualitative questions often (not always) have no definitive answer. Quantitative physics is the only real sort of physics as far as I'm concerned. In my experience, it's being precise about physical behaviour that people most often struggle with! $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 13 '10 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe we have different ideas about what "qualitative" means. I was referring to these questions I've asked: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/728/… physics.stackexchange.com/questions/167/… physics.stackexchange.com/questions/615/… $\endgroup$ – Mark Eichenlaub Nov 14 '10 at 2:12
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    $\begingroup$ I think those questions are quite decent in terms of qualitative questions - especially the first two. There are far worse examples though, I'm afraid. Qualitativity is not necessarily a bad thing, but it can often be an indicator of a poor question. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 14 '10 at 2:38

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