I occasionally get asked some interesting questions, e.g.:

  1. why do stars go away when you look at them,
  2. why do men have nipples,
  3. why can't we make a smell-o-phone,


They seem silly and (from a scientist's perspective) pretty easy. But I'm tempted to ask them here just to see what kind of explanations people come up with for lay-people. Is this within our scope?


IMO, "why do men have nipples" would make an excellent question for this site. Yes, it's kind of basic, but still a straightforward biological question, and also the kind of thing people may search for.

I could see "why can't we make a smell-o-phone" perhaps working too, though I think it might be best if the question itself were written in more biological terms. Same for "why do stars go away when you look at them" — I might have suggested asking that particular question at astronomy.SE instead, but they'll be closed down in a few days. :-(

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ but stars go away for a physiological reason (not to be confused with why they twinkle), why would you ask that on astronomy? $\endgroup$
    – Shep
    May 3 '12 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Shep: Mostly because it's the kind of question most likely asked by amateur stargazers (and which anyone with some experience in it will know at least the basic answer to, even if they may not know all the physiological details). $\endgroup$ May 3 '12 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ which raises another interesting question (for biology in particular): what do we do with questions on physics / astronomy that are really about biology? I guess flag for migration. $\endgroup$
    – Shep
    May 3 '12 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ That's what I'd do. (Going off on a tangent, the rule I tend to personally use when deciding whether and to where a question should be flagged for migration is "on which site is this likely to get the best answers?" Sometimes that may mean leaving a question on site A even though it's really about topic B, simply because it's about B as applied to A and is something that people doing A are likely to know for practical reasons.) $\endgroup$ May 3 '12 at 15:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the question were: "why does our brain stop processing a dim light signal when looking at it for a long time?" nobody would flag it as OT... so I don't see why an equivalent (just more specific) question should be migrated. $\endgroup$
    – nico
    May 17 '12 at 7:07

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