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Now that the how-things-work site has been closed and in spite of some people wishing to raise the standard, there are a number of questions about the physics of how things such as common machines and appliances work

Is there any consensus on a "how things work" tag?

ps Not really a dupe of What tag should we use to indicate "how does X work?" ? - I'm intending this for a "how does an air conditioner work" not a "how does gravity work" type question.

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Some (many?) of these questions will likely be off topic, in which case the tags probably don't matter... but for the rest, we do have an tag that I think should cover it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think there is something to this, but it is because the questions will be ill-posed, rather than because there won't be a valid underling physics question. Martin's AC example has at it's core the question of how compressive warming/expansive cooling works, "How does a computer work?" could be reduced to how to semi-conductor switches work and so on... $\endgroup$ – dmckee Sep 14 '11 at 20:02
  • $\begingroup$ Depends if you regard physics.so as meta for Phys Rev Letters, or as a source of physics answers for people who don't know physics. $\endgroup$ – Martin Beckett Sep 14 '11 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ @dmckee: yeah, that's kind of what I was getting at. The thing is, I'd much rather see people actually asking the underlying physics questions, rather than general things like "how does an air conditioner work?" $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 14 '11 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ @Martin: ideally both, though it does seem like that model doesn't work in practice. In any case now we have the theoretical physics site to be meta.PRL ;-) $\endgroup$ – David Z Sep 14 '11 at 23:14

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