How to get information from physics discussion sites

There are several useful physics discussion sites on the web, e.g., Physics Overflow, the Physics Forums or the Physics Stack Exchange.

If you read the stuff there out of curiosity, you may find that the discussions get so specific that you understand only little. Not understanding means that you should try to betterr understand some of the catchwords used in the discussion. The purpose of reading something poorly understood is satisfied if it makes you curious to learn more about the background. But it may be difficult to find out where to get started.

The right way to find out is to ask on these sites for what you need, in response to someone's contribution. The writers usually know how they got the knowledge, and are happy to give you hints or recommendations, and others will join in if they think they have better advice. The more specific your question, the more likely you'll get an answer, and the more useful it will be for others, too. By asking good questions you are doing a service to everyone else.

My Lord Jesus Christ, for whom I live, asserted: "Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matth. 7:7-8)
It took me a while to realize that this was excellent advice.

Arnold Neumaier (
A theoretical physics FAQ