6:22 PM
@mbq: so, about those mnemonics... :-)

3 hours later…
9:00 PM
ok, so...site promotion discussion time?

yeah. so it's just us two again?

I guess so
mbq registered to show up so hopefully he'll be here at some point
and kalle43 might decide to tune in
admittedly this chat session is not going to be too effective if it's just those few of us who have already been talking about promotion ;-)
yay another person! :-)
Hi Rakshit

Hi guys

Marek I answered his last question, whereas you answered his first question. Im not gonna spam the comment field

Hi gigacyan :-)

9:07 PM
Hello everyone

OK, so obviously any new ideas about promoting the site will be fantastic
but besides that, I thought we could go over the ideas that have been brought up before
I figure it might make it easier for people to start putting them into action

My 2 cents.. a lot of people coming in will be in search for answers to simple questions.

Are we aiming at physicists or general public?

So far we've been aiming at undergrad-level physics students and higher
not the general public
@RakshitPai I suppose that is true
The issue with simple questions of the kind that the general public (i.e. people who aren't educated in physics) ask is that they can easily be ill-defined, and basically all we can meaningfully say is "physics can't answer this question"
Hi Ami :-)

Hi David

9:15 PM
Certainly in order to promote the site effectively we need to know our intended audience

@DavidZaslavsky People who aren't formally educated in physics but are curious about how things work could come up with questions like, "how does gravity work" or "how do you determine the gravitational pull on objects"

@RakshitPai ok, true. The latter of those is a well-phrased question, although at a basic level
but I'm not sure what kind of answer we should offer for the first one

@DavidZaslavsky Direct them to content like - wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_gravity_work ? Or quote portions from it

I guess we could

I think that it is ok to answer simple questions. They attract more people and we need any promotion in the beginning. Also, there are probably not so many popular trivial questions about relativity of quantum mechanics and they have to be answered once but will attract people forever :)

9:20 PM
As a physics undergrad, I think that some of the problems explored and formulas derived in a course on undergraduate mechanics, modern physics, thermo, and electromagnetism are really elegant, subtle and beautiful. I have a nice collection of these types of problems in my notes and I would love to see more of them discussed on this site.

@Ami It would be nice if you can seed those as content for the site

@Ami so would I. I'm tempted to say that we might be better off ignoring the advice we got from higher up about "seeding" (asking questions you already know the answer to)
i.e. they said don't do it - I think it was on one of the SO blog posts
but it might work for us

I'd be happy to

hello everyone! had to go away for a while

the trick is to ask it in a way that doesn't make it sound silly

9:23 PM
Ie: a rigorous derivation for the stability of Earth's orbit
...done in a general (purely symbolic) form

@gigacyan that is a fair point, but the concern I've had is that if we admit these simple questions, we'll be swamped by them
and that will discourage experts from visiting the site

I think this is a great question: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/383/…

@Ami I would like to see that too
by the way: for anyone who doesn't know the interface, if you hover over the right side of any chat message you'll see three little icons which can be used to flag the message, star it (like upvoting), or reply to it respectively

@DavidZaslavsky I know what you mean but experts should first learn about this site which is what this discussion is about. I don't suggest answering every simple question but there are few that appear all the time.

Hello all.

9:28 PM
I agree with David about the quality of the site. In the last few days there have been lots of nice questions as advanced as AdS/CFT and the front page already has a little better feel thanks to it

@gigacyan okay, well we can keep an eye out for good simple questions. I guess the important thing is that the question can be answered in a high-quality way
If you have ideas for simple questions that can still solicit great answers, I'd say just ask them

@David: good point

My favorite question on the site: physics.stackexchange.com/questions/1683/…

Than it is also important to give questions some time to prove their greatness.
@Ami It is not; the amount of LaTeX holds it even on my 8 core Xeon.

@Ami: it was nice in that it made people think a lot. But I am not sure it's very useful as far as answers go and so on. I don't think Q&A based site that doesn't have a reasonable format for discussions is actually good for these types of questions

9:33 PM
@Ami Yeah, that one generated a lot of interest, although I agree with @mbq and @Marek about certain downsides

@Marek If the site gets enough volume, the answers will be "peer reviewed" by qualified eyes and only the best answers will get voted up.

@Marek Well, the idea is that great questions are so great that they don't need any discussion, just get upvoted right to the top.

About the promotion: I was trying to put together the posters but I didn't get to it in the end. Perhaps over the Christmas. Does anyone has good ideas about what should go into such poster (e.g. just questions, or also answers? And what questions concretely?)

Ah yes, good idea: actual promotion ;-)

Did anyone see this question on the programmers site?: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/7806/…

9:36 PM
@Marek I would go for just questions myself, just one or two per poster of the ones that an undergrad or grad student would find enticing

Thats the type of question (the one I posted from programmers) has a wide enough appeal that I'd be happy to post on my facebook page. I think a question like that would be great for promotion of the physics site too.

@ami: good stuff. We should poll for such a thing ourselves

I think that could work out well

By the way if XKCD mentioned Physics.SE it would be a great promotion :)
2

9:38 PM
@gigacyan ooh yes
does anyone have a connection to Randall?

@Marek Here's the type of "answers" we could hope for with a question like that: princeton.edu/~artofsci/gallery2010

@gigacyan: we already talked about getting relevant blogs and other sites to mention us. But it's easier said than done :-)

and require some explanation about why the picture is significant

Actually, it probably isn't that hard. Just someone should go over the blogs and send mails. I wonder who'll that be :-)

By the way, for whatever concrete plans we come up with, we can probably get the support of the Stack Exchange team

9:40 PM
@ami: yeah, very good idea

If you could get it plugged on twit.tv/kiki - that would be great

Well, there are few blogs that appear in referring sites;
500 visits total.

@mbq: those sites actually refer to us? that's pretty great. I love both qiao's and marco's blogs. perhaps it wouldn't be so hard to convince others as well

Actually, I found this site through IgorIvanov.blogspot.com. Elementy.ru is also his site.

I'm sure there must be some hierarchy of physics blogs that we could work our way up

9:44 PM
@Marek This is a lower league.
CrossValidated has most "referred" traffic from Twitter.

@mbq: sure. well, I am not really knowledgeable about how various blogs stands but I think TRF must be pretty high (it won science category in wordpress last year, or something like that)

It wouldn't be hard or out of line to send email to people running higher-traffic blogs. I've mentioned it a few times on ScienceBlogs, and you could probably get one or more of the Cosmic Variance bloggers to mention it.

First timers want to see a great question and answer, not a generic Q&A site.
IMO: if a blogger is going to make a plug, he/she should link to a specific "great question," not the site as a whole.
3

@ami: definitely. As Jeff pointed out on meta, if a professional physicist takes a look on the site they are not likely to come back. We have to bring the good stuff (and there is some good stuff already) directly under their noses

@Ami preferably not the one where it takes a minute to parse the MathJax ;-)

9:48 PM
Google is good promoter. If you search any question title you get first link to Physics.SE, so we should post questions that physicists are likely to search in google.
2

heh

@gigacyan This is a desired (in SE terms) way.
Sites from SOFU has number of visits \approx number of views.

seriously though, we do have some pretty good questions other than the one about the rail tank wagon

@DavidZaslavsky agreed

@gigacyan, @mbq so maybe it would be worthwhile to go over some of the better questions and think about ways to improve titles

9:49 PM
15

General relativity says that spacetime is a Lorentzian 4-manifold $M$ whose metric satisfies Einstein's field equations. I have two questions: What topological restrictions do Einstein's equations put on the manifold. For instance, the existence of a Lorentz metric implies some topological th...

possibly:
12

Hamiltonian's principle states that a dynamic system always follows a path such that action integral is stationary (that is maximum or minimum). Why should action integral be stationary? On what basis did Hamilton stated this principle?

In fact, the best Google magnet now is "instability of cylindrical column of water"
giving this
4

I've seen videos of people in space (on ISS) who squeeze a bottle or something and liquid comes out, it then separates into smaller balls. Why is this surely it should stay pretty much together because theres no gravity from the Earth so the liquid should attract itself?

Generated 405 visits.
Yet "ising model for dummies"
gives this on a first place:
8

Hello, I am looking for some literature on the Ising model, but I'm having a hard time doing so. All the documentation I seem to find is way over my knowledge. Can you direct me to some documentation on it that can be parsed by my puny undergrad brain? If the answer is negative, can you explain...

But only 101 visits.

I could see that the number of people searching for 'Ising model...' is relatively low, but that is kind of strange

I guess different people are looking for different things. Myself, if the mathjax doesn't cause my browser to hang for a minute I'm disappointed.

There's an essential tension between wanting to have more expert-level discussions and at the same time wanting more overall traffic. The number of physicists out there just isn't that large.

@Ami I'll report it to the team; they should make a timeout that kills this stuff.

9:55 PM
@chad: for that there's a cure of asking elementary questions that require expert answers. it's not easy to find those though
I mean, seemingly elementary

@ChadOrzel How many physicist are there? Less than mathematicians? The math SE sites are doing just fine...

@Ami lol ;-) while I can appreciate math-intensive questions and answers, that probably won't be good for us in the grand scheme of things

@Ami I think there's a cultural difference between sciences in the way they deal with the Internet.

My suggestion is attract more people first and sort them out later. It means simpler questions at the beginning that might scare away some experts but I think it is better then very slow growth with only high level questions.

For whatever reason, mathematicians have really embraced social media, while physicists have not to the same degree. It's kind of like the way that nobody has yet managed a life-science analogue of the arxiv, despite several attempts.

9:59 PM
@Ami IMO it is that physics answers are on Wikipedia. Mathematical answers also, but they need more human refinement, and Q&A fills this gap.

@mbq: huh? I thought it's the complete opposite

@Marek I was going to say the exact same thing
wikipedia has a lot of "popular" physics, but is weak when it comes to rigorous and high-level physics

mathematical stuff can actually always be deduced. in physics one makes all kinds of assumptions and approximations that deserve to be explained but are not usually

Wikipedia has weirdly detailed articles on some areas of physics, and clumsily plagiarized articles on many others. It's a very strange mix.

10:01 PM
@gigacyan I don't think that's practical but it's an interesting idea

@mbq True enough. That's how I know what sort of physics articles exist on Wikipedia, after all...

it's just because there's no alternative yet (except for some forums of even more varying quality)

@Marek Look for "quantum harmonic oscillator" and "What is a Fourier transform of first B_0(x^a) if a>7?".
Whatever B_0 means (-;

@DavidZaslavsky I realized my mistake: I was only thinking of attracting people who will ask questions but it is more important to find people willing to answer them.

People who use math.SE do so because they have an appreciation for beautiful mathematics. People who come to physics.se may do so for one of two reasons: 1) to better understand the world in a tangible intuitive way, 2) because the derivations and the math involved are amazingly elegant in a way that is parallel but also very distinct from pure mathematics.

10:04 PM
So far 90% of answers are given by the same 5-10 users

@mbq: what should I be looking for?
first one gives me wikipedia, second one nothing relevant it seems

as of now we are catering well to the first group and we should continue to do so. I think this site could cater better to the second group.

@gigacyan true. Though I guess we need both to some extent. Anyway I do appreciate the thought you're putting into this, even if I may disagree sometimes

@gigacyan I tend to think there are a decent number of people answering questions, but I agree it could be higher.

@Marek This is why Maths need Q&A more than Physics.

10:06 PM
@mbq: I think the oscillator is a very rare exception. I don't think I've ever seen better site at wikipedia
s/site/article/

wow, it's been an hour already. Not that we have to stop or anything ;-) but would people be in favor of another scheduled chat session in a few days?

@Marek Ok, let's say "vortex"; wiki article is a junk, but it is.

@DavidZaslavsky I'm in favor, but mostly because I have to go now :(

@mbq: there are also lots of great math articles and some junk. I don't think we can decide this by listing few examples :-)

10:09 PM
@david: perhaps, but depends very much on a precise day

@Ami sure, I'll put something up on meta, probably editing the same question we used for this one.
see you later ;-)

@mbq: what do you mean?

@Marek of course, we'll try to figure out another time that works for many people, if not everybody

@DavidZaslavsky You wanted to say track chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/info/71/physics?tab=schedule (-;

@ami: see you! you have very good ideas, so it'd great if you could come again

10:10 PM
@DavidZaslavsky You might want to go farther out than that, what with the holidays-- early January might be better. Unless there's some urgent need to boost traffic sooner.

@DavidZaslavsky See you. I'm looking forward to putting some serious time into this site. I think it has great potential.

@mbq oh yes, let's just say that's what I meant ;-)
(still some features I don't know about)

@Marek Mathematics problems are harder to Google; you need a human to connect a problem with a keyword.

@Marek @all have a good night.

The main and still unresolved problem is that we don't know what we want this site to be.

10:12 PM
@ChadOrzel okay that sounds like a good idea

Except a "great place" of course.

@mbq: ah, I see. That's probably true. Though I never about it this way because math is second nature to me :-)
@mbq: well, I know what I want the site to be. But I wonder whether we can all agree :-)

@Marek Elaborate

So far Physics.SE is the only place where people may ask questions on natural sciences and they will continue doing it until there is an alternative place.

a place where people can ask any question that is sophisticated enough (we'll have to discuss this more later) and get answer to any level of depth (down to QFT if needed) they'd like
in particular, I don't want it to be just all string theory and research. that should be left for TP.SE. but there are still lot's of great questions (particularly real world phenomena) that can be explained from first principles

10:17 PM
@Marek Ok, how many second is needed to produce an answer so the question could be sophisticated enough?
And what per cent of internet population has the knowledge to answer such?

@mbq: it's obviously subjective. but to give an example, I like Sklivvz questions on derivation of optical properties from QED. actually, those questions are little too hard and broad (though OP can't be supposed to know that; we have to suggest ways to improve the questions ourselves) but in general that's the kind of questions I like best
regarding the population, well it'll be obviously hard to answer such questions until we attract reasonable number of experts (I'd tried to give an answer myself but there are people who could've done a lot better job)

I think as we slowly build up more good questions we will increase our ability to attract experts

@gigacyan: you mean all of natural sciences? I don't remember ever seeing a question that'd need purely biology or chemistry

@Marek So you except intellectual rut like MO; this may not work since physicist have smaller amount of built-in primevalism that mathematicians. (Because of the blessing of experiments, of course)
5

Each spring enormous amounts of water rise up in trees and other vegetation. What causes this stream upwards? Edit: I was under the impression that capillary action is a key factor: the original question therefore was: what are the fundamental forces involved in capillary action? Can perhaps a...

2

I've read about the idea that buckyballs and other nanostructures could be used to hold drugs and things until they reach certain places in the body and then get released. So I was wondering, if you created a buckyball in air, so that some molecules that are in air (such as oxygen and nitrogen) ...

It is not pure, but in such direction.

@mbq: I am sorry, I didn't understand your comment about mathematicians. Could you rephrase it a little?

10:29 PM
@Marek you can always bring biology and chemistry down do physical level :)

@mbq: those questions are more on the physics side actually, I think
@gigacyan: yes you can. But usually don't want to work on a level lower than you need. It's just a waste of time

@Marek Otherwise they would be closed; yet they would be posted on biology.SE and chemistry.SE provided by such exist.

@Marek I mean that a lot of questions would better fit Popular Natural Science.SE (area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/4955/popular-natural-science) but they are still far from entering beta phas3e
so people will ask them here

@gigacyan Well this idea is obviously bad, this is by design a site with questions but without answers.

10:35 PM
@gigacyan if they are physics questions then I think they're okay here, as long as it's understood that we can give technical answers

@DavidZaslavsky Don't you think that such questions are an occasion for great answers? Not all of course, but it is a game worth playing. And they are Google magnets.

@mbq sure, makes sense to me. The only concern (rather, the only thing that could be a concern, though I am not personally worried about it) is that what constitutes a great answer to us may not be a great answer to the asker, e.g. if someone asks why the sky is blue, they might not want to hear about the details of Rayleigh scattering because it might go over their head.

@mbq: I am not sure. I think undergradute students have enough knowledge to address questions of the popular level. so the site might prosper. one can imagine those students asking questions in turn here that get answered by graduates and a little higher and then TP.SE as a genuine top of the pyramid

@DavidZaslavsky Blue sky was to gather reputation (-; I thought about the vortex-dolphin one, for instance.

@mbq which one is that? (I was talking about example questions for the PNS proposal)

10:44 PM
I have to go, it is getting late here. Good bye everybody.

@DavidZaslavsky Sorry, misunderstanding then.

@gigacyan: bye

@gigcyan: see you later then

@DavidZaslavsky So, who would answer this question on PNS?

The one about the sky being blue?

10:46 PM
Yup.

I'm not sure
Actually I have not committed to the PNS proposal
for pretty much that reason

So you would never have a comfort to migrate all basic question to such junkyard.

@mbq: hm, you are right. These are actually those elementary questions that require deep answers I was talking about
Ideally, PNS would need to have someone to detect these and send them to us. But I wonder if it will attract such a userbase. Me, I am probably not joining the site

@mbq Right. For instance, I would rather see the question about the sky's color get a solid and slightly technical answer (Rayleigh scattering) on physics.SE than be migrated to pns.SE and perhaps get a hand-wavy, non-quantitative answer there.
Although if PNS manages to take off and define itself somehow, I might change my mind

@DavidZaslavsky It has a great chance to be closed; but this usually happens when the site is close to take-off.

10:55 PM
I guess we'll wait and see
Anyway I have to take off
see you all later

Me too; have a nice day.

see you

11:19 PM
hi bruce

hi there

ah, ok. so do we agree now? perhaps we were each just talking about something little different

i think it's just a matter of semantics
yeah

so what's the way you initially understood the question?

I'd say there's friction between the gas and the ground
when you're talking about the molecules... some gas molecules loose energy colliding with the ground, but others gain energy, so I wouldn't call it friction

11:22 PM
yeah, I am not sure what's the right word. just that collision are inelastic

but, like you said, there's definitely dissipation
it depends on what he was thinking

actually, I made an implicit assumption (perhaps wrong) that the ground would cool quicker and therefore the energy would flow mainly from atmosphere to the ground. but thinking on it, perhaps ground has a bigger heat capacity and would therefore remain hotter than the atmosphere which would lose most of its energy via radiation
yeah, I am also not sure anymore :-)

the way he puts it, sounds like he's picturing the molecules as objects as individual bouncing balls following newtonian dynamics...
and so he could be asking, "why don't don't molecules settle down, like the bouncing balls do"

yes, that's the way I understood the question

I would have said that it's because molecules don't loose energy when bouncing

11:26 PM
so it's a question about what gives the energy back to the balls. that's the way I understood it

but now I realised that's not really true
:)
yeah, probably

yeah. and I now realized that thermal radiation also has to be taken into account (because of it the energy is lost even quicker)

yeah
slightly different subject...
was there a chat session about promoting the site?

yep

was anything decided?

11:30 PM
not much. just some good ideas were thrown around. and now I remember I forgot to mark them up for future generations. I will have to go through the history later