Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Are amateur questions ok?

  1. Aug 1, 2010 #1

    I'm an amateur inventor without a formal mechanical engineering education, and I've been looking for a place where I can pose a question asking for ideas on how to acheive a certain motion, or how to design any mechanism to acheive a given purpose.

    I haven't had time to lurk here for any length of time, and I wanted to ask if asking such questions is appropriate here. I don't want to ruffle any feathers, annoy people with my lack of formal education, or disobey the rules, so I thought it would be a good idea to ask.

    Thanks for any input!
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Assuming it's not about
    a, if a plane can take off from a treadmill
    b, if a boat can sail downwind faster than the wind
    c, god/astrology/religion/pyramids/your own theory proving that the universe is the shape of a teapot

    Last edited: Aug 1, 2010
  4. Aug 1, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Hi SteamBC, both you and your questions are absolutely welcome here! Review the rules if you like, the link is in the menu bar (they really aren't hard to follow). You'll find people here are very helpful, it doesn't matter if you are a newbie.

    When you ask a question it often helps to state what your educational background is, so the people who answer can tailor their answers to your level. Welcome, I hope you like it here!
  5. Aug 1, 2010 #4
    Ok, I guess I'm on safe ground then. Thanks.
  6. Aug 1, 2010 #5

    Thanks for the warm welcome!
  7. Aug 1, 2010 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Welcome aboard, SteamBC. Expect your traditional fish-slap soon. :biggrin:
    This is, after all, primarily an educational site.
    I love seeing questions posed as to how something mechanical can be achieved. While I have no formal education, I've built a lot of stuff and enjoy trying to figure out how to do it. As Mgb mentioned, however, it has to be something that falls within the realm of physical possibility.
  8. Aug 1, 2010 #7


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    To be honest amateur questions are a lot more welcome than some argument about the inner details of some mathematical theorem that none of us understands!

    The only real rules are to post homework questions in the correct forum and present some attempt, we can't answer questions where we think you might hurt yourself or others - so no "how do I make a pipe bomb?" or "what thickness of steel beam do I need for a bridge in my country?"
  9. Aug 2, 2010 #8
    Thanks, guys.

    I just removed the pipe bomb from my checklist. ;)
  10. Aug 2, 2010 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I think that you're going to fit in just fine.
  11. Aug 2, 2010 #10

    I'll work on the explosives secretly, just like you guys are doing.

    I love the signature - "Full flaps!", LOL.
  12. Aug 3, 2010 #11
    The questions that seem to cause people without formal education trouble here generally have the form "I don't have any formal education, but I know everything anyway and need to publish my new theory before anyone can steal it from me, how can I do this? Any why are the so-called 'scientists' so close-minded and unwilling to listen to me?"

    "I don't have any formal education but could use some help" is always welcomed warmly.
  13. Aug 4, 2010 #12
    You will find that I'm absolutely dripping with humility.

    I'm very proud of that fact! ;)

    Seriously, though, I'm here to learn and I'm glad I found this great forum.

  14. Aug 8, 2010 #13


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I hope that this wasn't a snipe aimed at my admission to not having an education. My point in mentioning it frequently is to ensure that nobody mistakes me for an expert in any subject. (With the exception of locks a decade or so back; I was a professional diploma-bearing locksmith for 17 years before I retired.) I do, however, have a "knack" for designing and building mechanical devices. My approach is unlikely to be the most efficient or practical method, but it will work. When you get your parts from recycling depots and whatever is lying around in the basement, "impractical" becomes "practical". It won't be pretty, but it will get the job done.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook