[Physics FAQ] -
Written by PEG and SIC, but updated occasionally.
An Introduction to the Physics Newsgroups
The physics groups
The USENET hierarchy contains a number of newsgroups dedicated to the discussion of
physics and physics-related topics. These include sci.physics, sci.physics.research,
sci.physics.cond-matter, sci.physics.particle and alt.sci.physics.new-theories, to all of
which this general physics FAQ is relevant. Some of the more narrowly focused
physics newsgroups have their own FAQs, which can, of course, be found in the appropriate
sci.physics is an unmoderated newsgroup dedicated
to the discussion of physics, news from the physics community, and physics-related social
sci.physics.foundations is a
moderated group designed to discuss any issue of the foundations of physics or
philosophy of physics, and in particular, posts on unresolved or controversial
issues. The charter is held at here.
sci.physics.research is a
moderated newsgroup designed to offer an environment with less traffic and more
opportunity for discussion of serious topics in physics among experts and beginners
alike. There is an archive copy of the charter
for this group and also a regular administrivia
an open forum for discussion of any topics related to conventional or unconventional
physics. In this context, "unconventional physics" includes any ideas on physical
science, whether or not they are widely accepted by the mainstream physics community.
sci.physics.particle is an unmoderated
newsgroup dedicated to the discussion of all aspects of particle physics by people with
all levels of expertise. There is an archive copy
of the charter for this group.
sci.physics.accelerators is an
unmoderated newsgroup for issues relating to particle accelerators and the physics of
beams. There is an archive copy of the
charter for this group.
alt.sci.physics.acoustics is an
unmoderated newsgroup for issues relating to sound and acoustics. It has an FAQ and operates under a set
of informal rules.
sci.physics.cond-matter is an
unmoderated newsgroup dedicated to the discussion of the physics of condensed
matter. There is an archive copy of the
charter for this group.
is an unmoderated newsgroup for discussion of computational fluid dynamics.
There is an archive copy of the charter for
sci.physics.electromag is an
unmoderated newsgroup with its own FAQ dedicated to the discussion of topics pertaining to
electromagnetics. There is an archive copy of the
charter for this group, and an early FAQ.
sci.physics.fusion is an unmoderated
newsgroup with its own FAQ dedicated to the discussion of nuclear fusion. There is a
reconstructed charter for this group.
sci.physics.plasma is a moderated
newsgroup serving the plasma science and technologies community. There is an archive copy of the charter for this group.
sci.physics.relativity is an
unmoderated newsgroup for discussions about the theory of relativity. There is an archive copy of the charter for this group.
sci.physics.strings is a moderated
newsgroup for discussions on string theory.
alt.sci.physics We don't know why this
exists, but it does.
de.sci.physik is the German language group for
fj.sci.physics is the Japanese language group
for physics discussions.
People from a wide variety of non-physics backgrounds, as well as students and experts
in all areas of physics participate in the ongoing discussions on these newsgroups.
Professors, industrial scientists, graduate students, etc., are all on hand to bring
physics expertise to bear on almost any question. But the only requirement for
participation is interest in physics, so feel free to post—but before you do, please do
- Read this FAQ. It contains good answers, contributed by the readership, to some
of the most frequently asked questions.
- Understand "netiquette". If you are not sure what this means, subscribe to
news.announce.newusers and read the excellent discussion of proper net behaviour that
is posted there periodically.
- Be aware that there is a special newsgroup dedicated to the discussion of
"alternative" physics. It is alt.sci.physics.new-theories, and is the
appropriate forum for discussion of physics ideas that are not widely accepted by the
physics community. sci.physics is not the group for such discussions. A
quick look at articles posted to both groups should make the distinction
apparent. The charter for sci.physics.relativity also allows for speculative
- Be conservative with cross posting. It is almost always best to post a question
in the one group that seems best suited rather than cross posting it to several
groups. Check which newsgroups a thread is cross posted to before posting
followups. If it is inappropriately cross posted you may wish to reduce the
number of groups listed in the header. Be aware that if it is cross posted to
sci.physics.research or another moderated newsgroup, your followups will be vetted
by the moderators before being accepted. Posting the same message to many
groups without cross posting is even worse than massive cross posting.
- Read the responses already posted in the thread to which you want to
contribute. If a good answer is already posted, or the point you wanted to make
has already been made, let it be. Old questions have probably been thoroughly
discussed by the time you get there—save web resources by posting only new
information. Post to as narrow a geographic region as is appropriate. If
your comments are directed at only one person, try email.
- Get the facts right! Opinions may differ, but facts should not. It is
very tempting for new participants to jump in with quick answers to physics questions
posed to the group. But it is very easy to end up feeling silly when people
barrage you with corrections. So before you give us all a physics lesson you'll
regret—look it up.
- Don't post textbook problems in the hope that someone will do your homework for
you. Do your own homework; it's good for you. On the other hand,
questions, even about elementary physics, are always welcome. So if you want to
discuss the physics that is relevant to your homework, feel free to do so. Be
warned that you may still have plenty of work to do, trying to figure out which of
the many answers you get are correct.
- Your posting will be read by many people, so it is worth taking a minute to read it
back and check the spelling, grammar and punctuation before posting. But please
don't waste bandwidth by correcting or criticising other people's spelling or grammar
unless their errors obscure what was being said. Pointless spelling corrections
almost always draw responses that correct spelling errors in the correction!
- Do not post picture binaries or other large files in the sci.physics.* hierarchy of
newsgroups. If you want to show a picture, post it in alt.binaries.pictures.misc and tell
everyone where to find it. Better still, put it on a web page and post that
page's web address.
- Be prepared for heated discussion. People have strong opinions about some
issues, and discussions can get a little "loud" at times. Don't take it
personally if someone seems to always jump all over everything you say.
Everyone was jumping all over everybody long before you got there! You can keep
the discussion at a low boil by trying to stick to the facts. Clearly separate
facts from opinion—don't let people think you are confusing your opinions with
scientific truth. And keep the focus of discussion on the ideas, not the people
who post them.
- Tolerate everyone. People of many different points of view, and widely varying
educational backgrounds from around the world participate in this newsgroup.
Respect for others will be returned in kind. Personal criticism is usually not
Thank you for taking the time to read this page.