Welcome to sci.physics.research!

Sci.physics.research is a moderated newsgroup for discussing research-oriented physics questions.

The master version of this page is http://www.astro.multivax.de:8000/spr/spr.html.

As of April 2009, the currently active co-moderators are:

Reading sci.physics.research

There are lots of ways to do it; a program called a newsreader is best. These days you can find newsreaders on the web. Note, though, that a "real" newsreader might offer more features, and that newsgroups pre-date Google Groups (which is essentially a web-based interface to the much older newsgroups). Wikipedia has some information on newsreaders. Also check out the sci.physics.research archive.

Posting to sci.physics.research

You post to this newsgroup as you would to any other --- using your newsreader. But please read what follows before posting to this newsgroup!

Important must-read stuff

This section contains practical details about posting to this newsgroup. It is followed by more detailed information about the history of the group and the kinds of posts that are appropriate.

Sci.physics.research is a moderated newsgroup. This means that each article must be approved by one of the co-moderators before it can be posted. One consequence of this is that you will NOT see your post appear in the newsgroup immediately after you post it. Some people mistakenly assume that their article wasn't posted when they don't see it right away. They then resubmit their articles (often several times in rapid succession). Needless to say, this is a bad thing. Don't do it.

There are two ways to submit an article for posting to the newsgroup:

  1. Post as you would to any newsgroup (e.g., with 'f' from rn).
  2. E-mail your post to sci-physics-research At astro Dot multivax Dot de or sci-physics-research At moderators Dot isc Dot org
Either way, your post will get routed at random to one of the active co-moderators, who will decide whether it is acceptable or not. If it is accepted, it will be posted; if not, the moderator will send you e-mail explaining the reasons. This means that every time you post something, you should either see it appear on the newsgroup or receive a rejection letter. If neither of those things happens, something has gone wrong with your post. (Technical note: The first address is the direct submission address for posts. The second one should work as long as the newsgroup sci.physics.research exists, i.e. even if later some other site handles incoming posts.)

There is one important exception to the above. If the Reply-To address in your post is not your real e-mail address, then of course the moderators won't be able to send you a rejection letter. If your post is sent from an invalid address because you use a simple and easily-decipherable spam-block, there's a good chance the moderator will notice this and send any rejection e-mails to the correct address; however, we do not promise that we will always notice and undo spam-blocks. (In fact, if your spam-block is at all difficult or annoying to undo --- for instance if it requires us to visit your web site to find out your real address --- then you can be quite certain that we won't do it.)

Confusion occasionally arises about crossposted articles. An article that is crossposted to sci.physics.research and one or more other groups will not appear on *any* of the newsgroups to which it was posted until it has been approved by a moderator. When a moderator approves a crossposted article, the article is posted to all of the groups on the Newsgroups line. If a crossposted article is rejected by the moderators, then it will not appear in any of the newsgroups. You are of course welcome in this case to post your article to the other newsgroups, omitting sci.physics.research.

Of course, the moderation process is not instantaneous. There may be delays of up to a few days in any particular moderator's processing of submissions. (It's usually less than that, but not always.) Add to that an additional delay for your article to propagate back to your site. This means that you should wait at least a week or so before concluding that your article was lost.

Some small percentage of people have trouble posting to moderated groups from their sites - their posts sometimes disappear en route. These people should post by sending e-mail to the submission address; this solves the problem in every case we know about.

If you want to send e-mail to all of the moderators, you can use the address physics-research-request At astro Dot multivax Dot de. This address should not be used for submitting articles to be posted; it is for administrative comments that you want to be seen by all active moderators.

What is sci.physics.research?

Sci.physics.research is a newsgroup intended to facilitate relatively noise-free discussions of issues in and about physics. It grew out of the unmoderated group sci.physics in February 1993 as a response to a perceived signal-to-noise-ratio problem in the unmoderated group, which, it was claimed, had diminished the value of that group to the working physicist (among others). Matt Austern of LBL recognized the problem, argued that a moderated group would be an appropriate outgrowth of sci.physics, and conducted the voting for the new group.

A problem recognized early in the discussions of sci.physics.research was that of obtaining a qualified moderator who would be able to devote the necessary time and effort to the purely voluntary, basically avocational job of moderating a Usenet group. After exploring possibilities, it was decided that the group would be proposed with "co-moderators" who would each receive some fraction of all submissions, which arrive at a special email address and are then distributed randomly among the co-moderators via routing software. Each co-mod would then be able to accept or reject any article routed to him/her for posting.

There is now an archive of sci.physics.research posts available at: http://www.lns.cornell.edu/spr/. This was created by Dan Riley in October 2000, and it contains posts dating back to November 1998. A more complete collection of posts before this date can now be found on Google, but it would be nice if someone put copies of those older posts onto the sci.physics.research archive.

Acceptable and unacceptable posts

As noted above, the charter of this group is aimed at discussions of research-oriented physics issues. Much of the early discussion of the group revolved around the detailed interpretation of this charter. It was generally agreed that the charter implied "light" moderation, aimed not at restricting subject matter but at reducing noise. Under this guidance, the following sorts of material were deemed inappropriate for sci.physics.research:
  1. Personal attacks (i.e. flames);
  2. Discussion that isn't about or related to physics;
  3. Multiple responses that all say the same things; and
  4. Overly speculative posts.
Posts must be in ordinary readable ASCII text. Binary files are not appropriate for sci.physics.research. Neither is HTML. Also, send straight plain text, not MIME-encoded text.

Posts must consist primarily of substantive discussion of physics. For instance, a joke (even a very funny one), or a post to inform other readers that you won't be reading news for a while, is acceptable only if it is accompanied by substantial physics content. Posts about the workings of the newsgroup or about moderation policy are also unacceptable, since they're not about physics. If you want to comment on the newsgroup's moderation policy, the best way is to send e-mail to the moderators at physics-research-request At astro Dot multivax Dot de.

Furthermore, polls of the readership have indicated a desire by a majority of the respondents to limit advertising on sci.physics.research. The only advertisements we accept are advertisements OFFERING jobs (not job wanted ads) and "non-commercial want ads", that is, individuals seeking equipment, books, and the like (not ads offering to sell things).

The Usenet Physics Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list answers a lot of common questions about physics. Before posting a question to sci.physics.research, you are strongly urged to read this!

Finally, note that requests for solutions to homework problems are looked on very unfavorably by the newsgroup's readers. If you want help understanding the concepts and techniques in your physics course, feel free to ask, but asking for solutions to specific problems is frowned upon.

Remember that the purpose of moderation is to ensure that articles meet the charter criteria, not to guarantee "research-quality" articles as would a journal referee. The moderators usually will not edit articles either for content or for grammar/spelling, although particularly illegible material may be returned to the author for repair.

As the newsgroup grows, it will undoubtedly change, and questions of appropriateness will probably arise from time to time. In judging the moderation process, keep in mind that (1) the co-moderators are doing this for fun, not profit :-), (2) the unmoderated sci.physics will continue to exist for those that find sci.physics.research too restrictive, and (3) the co-moderators recognize the need to be responsive to the readership's desires. We'll do the best we can.

Miscellaneous information

On some occasions accepted articles will be posted with the inclusion of "moderator's notes" having the format

       [Moderator's note: {whatever the moderator wants to say}]

These notes may contain a request that followups be sent to a different newsgroup or conducted via e-mail to the author. Material sent in defiance of this request will generally be viewed *very* unsympathetically by the moderators.

With the growth of the World Wide Web since the inception of the group, the moderators have devised a simple convention for identifying articles that point the reader to a Web site: "Subject" lines are modified to include the symbol "WWW:". This will allow readers to read or ignore WWW articles as they see fit, using a kill file. A similar convention exists for non-commercial want ads, which have subject lines that begin "AD:", and job-offered articles, which begin "JOB:". You can save us some work by including these symbols in the material that you post.

(Please note that the WWW prefix is for articles consisting of pointers to Web sites, not for articles that are themselves HTML documents! HTML documents should not be posted to the newsgroup: posted articles should always be plain ASCII text. You may read news from your Web browser, but not everyone does.)

As with all Usenet groups, it's a good idea to "lurk" for a while before posting - that is, to read the group traffic to get some idea of how your message will be received, and whether it will likely be accepted by the moderator. Try also looking in some of the related newsgroups and FAQ files. In particular, we strongly urge you to read the Usenet Physics FAQ, because many basic questions are answered there! New readers are especially urged to consult the section "An Introduction to the Physics Newsgroups". This FAQ can be found at the following sites:


Other Usenet resources relevant to sci.physics.research

A comprehensive list of newsgroups covering subject material related to this group is probably too long to include here, physics being as diverse as it is. A partial list is: - plus a wealth of site-specific groups that may be accessible to the public. Check the monthly guide to Usenet groups posted in news.lists and elsewhere for other possibilities.

Thanks for your cooperation. Let's try to make sci.physics.research a useful and interesting forum for talking about physics!