Intellectual level in answering questions

russ_watters

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A thread in the math forum made me feel the need to address this as it is a real problem not just in this forum, but in life in general. The thread was junior high kid asking about how to find the slope of a line. The explanations went WAAAY over his head. They were far more complicated than they needed to be.

I'm a mechanical engineer designing HVAC systems. I was recently talking to the principal of a school we're working for and 2 minutes into a discussion of their systems she asked: what's a CFM. Oops. Some things are so basic once you know them that you forget if someone hasn't seen it before its not so basic to them.

There is a physics q&a site where I saw a question about the venturi effect and went something like this: If air flowing past a car window pulls a vacuum, why don't the people in the car suffocate? The response (not kidding) was written by a phd candidate and was a good 400 words going into excruciating detail on about the level of a 1st or 2nd year aerospace engineering student. I am SURE whoever wrote the question didn't get 3 sentences into the response. All that was needed was a sentence on guage vs absolute pressure and a sentence explaining how the venturi effect is only a LITTLE vacuum.

I'm not sure there is much of a discussion in this, but I just felt the need to editorialize. Opinions?
 
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I'll wonder if I'm the only other one after the principal who doesn't know what CFM or HVAC stands for....
 

russ_watters

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D'oh. See, I did it again. Most engineers know both (all should) but only a small portion of the general public should even care: HVAC is Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning. CFM is Cubic Feet per Minute (air flow).
 

Zero

I guess the point is that we should all gauge our answers to the level of the questioner, huh? And someone asking a question should state what level they are at.
 

kyleb

unfortunately, some people just take every chance they can get to try to prove themselves to everyone; in doing so they often forget the point of what they are doing.
 
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Originally posted by russ_watters
D'oh. See, I did it again. Most engineers know both (all should) but only a small portion of the general public should even care: HVAC is Heating, Ventilation, and Air conditioning. CFM is Cubic Feet per Minute (air flow).
AAhh, I thought you were constructing High VACuum chambers or something like that
 

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