The subject at hand is related to this question in particular: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/131619/how-does-ohms-law-apply-to-superconductors

If technologies are only on-topic if they are commonly used, then I suppose all of the technologies used in amateur radio today would have been off-topic in the years leading up to their becoming widely practical. Amateur radio has always been about experimenting and innovating with new technologies. Superconductor technology is getting ever closer to becoming practical for use in Amateur Radio.

Also, the question had as much to do with the application of Ohm's Law and Joule's Law as it did to superconductors. Both of those concepts have been sources of license exam questions since before the 1970's when I took my first exam.

The question relates to principles fundamental to current, resistance, inductance, and magnetic fields. All of them fundamentals of radio.

Yes, the question relates to physics, the branch of science concerned with the properties of matter and energy and the relationships between them. But any subject that deals with natural phenomena, from radio to meteorology to astronomy, will resort to the use of physics to gain an understanding of the principles governing those fields.

I can't imagine how anyone would find the migrated question as off topic for the HR SE.

  • $\begingroup$ Please restrict each question post to a single question. Do you wish to discuss the migration, or whether physics questions (about superconductors, which insofar as I know are not commonly used by radio amateurs, and which I fail to see how they are related to radio) are on topic on the Amateur Radio Stack Exchange? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 19, 2014 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ Good suggestion. Based on this answer, I think the question definitely should not have been moved: meta.ham.stackexchange.com/questions/149/… $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2014 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ I'm sorry, but as this stands, I can't even tell for certain what your exact question is. You are asking two completely separate questions; please clarify which one you want answered. And/or post the other as a separate question post. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 19, 2014 at 19:02
  • $\begingroup$ You'll need to give me a few minutes to update my question. Sorry for the wait. $\endgroup$ Aug 19, 2014 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ That looks better, at least at a glance. It's getting late where I am, but I'll try to look at the two tomorrow and compose an answer, assuming no one else does before me. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 19, 2014 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ I see a little check mark beneath the baseless answer below. Does that mean I've had the privilege of having an answer accepted on my behalf? Is this HR SE Meta's method of telling me to GFY, or can I expect a reasoned answer to follow from an admin? $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2014 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ You may be confusing the empty check mark with a filled in, green check mark for an answer that has been accepted. Nobody accepts answers for you. $\endgroup$
    – W5VO
    Aug 20, 2014 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ I'm glad. I'd hate to think that the meta would treat its users so rudely as I've witnessed on AR SE. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2014 at 23:36

4 Answers 4


Please keep in mind that Stack Exchange is a network of sites, all working the same way but focusing on different subject matters.

Yes, amateur radio is a broad field. However, your question (which was initially flagged for possible migration to Electrical Engineering where one of the moderators felt it would be off topic, and later welcomed to Physics) doesn't really fit within the scope of Amateur Radio SE, which after some discussion back and forth right here on our Meta was defined as amateur radio specifically, plus the technology of radio in general, with some exceptions. Unless we are willing to allow the "technology of radio" point to include anything that might possibly be of use in radio, no matter how remote, as well as any theoretical discussion about the same, questions about superconductors doesn't really fall into that scope. However, questions on radio electronics which just happens to involve using superconductors or supercooled equipment might very well be another matter. Determining whether a borderline question is on topic or off topic, and if off topic whether it should be closed in place or migrated, is not always easy, and very often comes down to a judgement call.

It was my feeling as the moderator handling the migration suggestion flag that your question, while interesting, did not really fit within the scope for this site. It did however fit well on Physics where it was welcomed. Therefore, after conferring with one of the moderators there, I migrated the question to what was felt was the more appropriate site within the Stack Exchange network. You are more than welcome to head on over there and participate in the question-and-answer process there; the sites work exactly the same, the question remains yours, and the question will be associated with your name when you create a linked account on that site.

  • $\begingroup$ It is a banishment. And a sad one. It says that Amateur Radio SE doesn't welcome questions seeking a basic understanding of the principles and technologies related to our hobby. Ask such a question, knowingly or not, and you will find yourself being sent off to register on yet another SE community, where presumably your submissions will be treated just as capriciously and arbitrarily. Before migrating a question, please ask yourself what problem you are solving by its exclusion. Is 0.6 questions per day too much to handle? Is your community becoming so diverse that its purpose is obscured? $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2014 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ I do agree that it doesn't fit into EE, nor is my question purely physics, though I'm happy to see that the community there is more open minded. Like Amateur Radio itself, the question lies somewhere between the worlds of EE and physics and schematics and solder. Perhaps in this nascent beta community, the gatekeepers are themselves still coming to terms with the topic they're trying to govern. $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's not that we do not welcome questions, it is that sometimes there are better places to ask those questions because the questions don't pertain to radio. That a question is a poor fit for one particular site doesn't necessarily make the question itself bad, it just makes it a poor fit for that particular site. Is your problem that clicking "Confirm And Create This Account" is too much to ask? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 21, 2014 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ I've already explained that the question does pertain to Amateur Radio. Saying that it doesn't is like saying that calculation of DC voltage drop doesn't pertain. Yet we see that AR license exam question pools (and the FCC) has long maintained that an understanding of DC electronic principles is essential to all entrants into the hobby. To banish my question from it proper forum is wrong. Is it too much to ask that you undo the wrongful act? $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2014 at 14:07

You are getting too hung up on where your question lives to notice that what has happened to it is probably a Good Thing™.

Yes, your question has some applicability to amateur radio.

Yes, your question has some interest to people who want to know about these things.

No, your question is not currently directly applicable to the use of amateur radio equipment and neither is there any immediate way to make practical use of it.

Aside from the first sentence of your question which states "As radio amateurs we've all learned the various relationships of power, voltage, current and resistance as expressed in Ohm's Law." every last word is the kind of question I would expect someone to ask a physics professor. Even in a dedicated Radio Electronics course I would expect your teacher to point you in the general direction of the Physics department.

For that reason it was migrated to a place where it could be seen by people with more knowledge of the specific subject matter.

Yes, you should want your question to remain where you asked it but when multiple people who are well aware of the full scope of the site are telling you that you have moved out of that scope and should get advice from someone else then maybe you should listen to them.

Your question has gone to a better place. You can either accept that and go and discuss it with people who share your interest in an apropriate forum (a true forum, not an "internet forum") or you can argue about semantics and topicality.

I find it rather telling in your choice of which of those two options you chose to follow.

  • $\begingroup$ I think you are right. Physics SE is a better place. But I don't think it has to be that way. I would encourage the community to examine what problem they are solving before tossing out questions to other SE groups. The 1-year anniversary of the beta is approaching. Is the community meeting its targets? Are current policies helpful, or providing suboptimal results? A more liberal interpretation of topicality would be helpful and more in keeping with the spirit of the hobby, even if it bruises the toes of some reputation emperors. $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2014 at 21:39

By that logic, it could have just as easily been on math.SE because it's talking about dividing by zero.

"... please explain the physics behind your selection."

It doesn't belong here. You have a physics problem with no applicability to amateur radio. Your question was about superconductors, and even then it's a mental exercise, as you keep throwing in more and more rules to get the nit-picking answer you want.

There are other issues with this question that would also lead to its closure. From the Help Center, under types of questions to avoid:

  • there is no actual problem to be solved
  • you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question
  • $\begingroup$ Now coming from an EE grad student, I can understand your point of view that everyone should know the right equations to apply to solve a particular problem. So it might surprise you to learn that many folks have difficulty seeing why a particular mathematical model just doesn't apply. In my case, the model was just plain wrong. Excuse me, but that's why I asked the question. It seems to me that one astute individual corrected me, and provided an excellent answer (IMO) which is no longer available to me to accept. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2014 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ I guess that super high-Q circuits, lossless antenna radiators, high efficiency amplifiers, and other potential superconductor applications have no place in amateur radio. Silly me. No problem to be solved. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2014 at 20:54
  • $\begingroup$ @user2338215 So this appears to be your first migrated question. The question, and all of the answers, have been moved to a different SE site. You haven't signed up for that site yet, but as soon as you do that will show up as your question and you can then accept the answer. That being said, this is not a practical application that you are proposing - I am doubtful that you have any access to superconducting material at all. It's not that there isn't a problem to be solved, but that there are too many problems for it to be reasonable. $\endgroup$
    – W5VO
    Aug 20, 2014 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ "Too many problems for it to be reasonable"? Say what? That's just silly, or evasive. Can superconductors be used in Amateur Radio applications? Clearly the answer is yes. The impracticality for most hams to afford their own dewar of liquid nitrogen and access to high-temp superconducting ceramic is totally aside the point - though I'm aware of hams with access to both. The topic is relevant, applicable, has practical applications in Amateur Radio, and clearly belongs in any forum that purports to relate to the hobby. If my "blow up the neighborhood" example twisted your shorts, I'm sorry. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2014 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ Are superconductors practical for most amateurs today? No, but neither was SSB in the 1920's and 1930’s. If the subject of SSB were banned from AR dialog in the forums of that day, there would have been much slower progress in the radio art. Why would any reasonable person ban discussion of cutting-edge technology? Especially in a hobby that has been so instrumental in advancing it. $\endgroup$ Aug 20, 2014 at 23:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @user2338215 We can keep going down the hyperbole train. For example, my friend uses a V6 engine block as a base weight for his mast, which goes through the crankshaft. We should clearly allow engine repair questions because you can use an engine in amateur radio. Why do you think we're banning the discussion? We're simply moving it to a venue where people might be interested in discussing your question. $\endgroup$
    – W5VO
    Aug 21, 2014 at 0:38
  • $\begingroup$ If repairing the engine were requisite to using it for holding up the antenna, why not? You think you're going to be inundated by a bunch of lug nuts discussing valve grinding? Please. $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2014 at 13:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ So if I want to use a concrete foundation for a mast to be used for holding an amateur radio antenna, that suddenly makes concreting on topic on Amateur Radio SE? Or if I take the battery from a cell phone and use it to power amateur radio equipment, that makes cell phone repair on topic on Amateur Radio SE? Since I'm likely to use a natural language for communicating over the air, that makes natural languages on topic on Amateur Radio SE? Where do you draw the line? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 21, 2014 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ As you have illustrated, there isn't any irrefutable line that can be drawn. But SE is about the community. A single flag from a single member after he's already demonstrated the subject is sufficiently on-topic to address himself, isn't much basis for draconian action. Sometimes it might be necessary to engage with the submitter in order to determine the relevance. Step back and look at the bigger picture, and ask some questions. Make mistakes sometimes? Just 'fess up and move on. $\endgroup$ Aug 21, 2014 at 14:23

Stack Exchange is an application of Gamification, a relatively new and sometimes controversial concept that involves creating an artificial sense of achievement to engage users in solving problems. Some argue that gamification can encourage unintended behaviours. So don't be surprised if you witness some.

The SE model requires a critical mass of sufficiently diverse and knowledgeable participants, as well as a sufficient influx of pertinent questions, in order to generate a reliable base of questions-and-answers that makes a community self-sustaining by attracting on net, more new participants than deserters.

A beta community is an SE community that has not yet achieved critical mass. You should beware that small groups are easily subject to domination by cliques, and may exhibit exclusive behaviors that hamper further development of the community. The smaller community is also more susceptible to being gamed itself, since it takes just a few rogue email accounts to add a significant number of upvotes and answer accepts, or downvotes to discourage outsiders. The community over time will either mature, or eventually it withers. It is all just part of the game.

If you don't quite fit in with the "in" crowd, your choices are much the same as they were in high school: hang out in the background and see if the community matures; make waves and be ostracized; or look for a different community that is more accepting.

Having your motivation impugned in answers, and your answers peppered with pompous and dismissive comments, are par for the course. That's life. Deal with it. Check Area 51 and educate yourself before getting involved.


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