Can you shoot someone with a bullet... from orbit? asks about shooting a bullet from space to earth. This seems more like a physics question (how do trajectories work? how does gravity affect that?) than a worldbuilding question; I don't see where a world is being built here.

The question received some flags suggesting a migration to Physics, after which I left this comment:

Is this a worldbuilding question? It sounds more like a physics question to me.

That comment has ten upvotes, but the question had not a single close vote. It only takes 500 reputation to cast close votes.

A migration to Physics seems iffy to me; several of the answers would not be appropriate there. The OP would be better off asking a new question there, I suspect.

I've put the question on hold as off-topic while we discuss it. What should be done with this question?

  • $\begingroup$ I got most of the answer I was hoping for. I just figured if I asked it on Physics, they'd send me back here. Also, wow, I didn't realize it got that many views. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Jul 27 '15 at 13:21
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    $\begingroup$ Also, it appears that question spawned another one: Can you catch a fish with a fishing rod… from orbit?. Perhaps this one should also be considered. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Jul 27 '15 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ I think it is definitely border line...but a lot of things are so it is tough to say. I think we still have work to do on whether we keep these kinds of questions. $\endgroup$ – James Jul 27 '15 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ I would argue that this is equally fantastical, yet it got a great reception on Physics. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Jul 27 '15 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 cool! Thanks; I don't follow Physics and had not seen that. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jul 27 '15 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ Felt like a weapon design question to me. Seems reasonable to be on the site and certainly isn't the first of it's kind. I'm inclined to reopen it... $\endgroup$ – James May 30 '17 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @James wow, blast from the past! I think our scope has firmed up a lot since I asked this in 2015, and I haven't taken a recent look at the question, so yes, if it fits our current scope now (through either scope change or edits), then by all means encourage people to reopen it! $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio May 30 '17 at 20:35

I guess I should provide an answer, since it was my question.

I had a few reasons for posting it here:

1) - I thought it was too crazy to be taken seriously on Physics. HDE 226868 has shown that that's not the case.

2) - The question hit on a variety of topics, from projectile motion to atmospheric conditions to materials to propulsion to weapon design to... other stuff, probably. I know that asking a question here will give me a broader understanding of the problem, because Worldbuilding is sort of a broad topic itself.

3) - I am building a fictional world in which the information gained from asking such a question would be useful. That seemed like enough reason to ask the question here, though now I'm doubting myself on that. I still don't think I know what kinds of questions to ask here, but I'm willing to be a bit flexible if the intentions are pure.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for sharing your reasons! Having this background is helpful. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Jul 27 '15 at 19:54

Here is (are?) my two cents:

The question does not rely on any world building whatsoever. I've been guilty of asking questions like this in the past, but that doesn't mean that it's right to do so (it's not). You could answer this simply with some equations and scientific logic.

I would also like to direct everyone's attention to Could Legolas actually see that far?. It's about an equally speculative topic that is not based in science, yet as of this writing, it has a voting score of +118/-0. It also has 12,308 views and is the #14 question in votes, of all time, on Physics Stack Exchange.

Just because something is speculative does not make it off topic for a science site. I would advise checking with the mods there before migrating, but I know that if I saw this question in the close vote review on Physics, I would certainly click "Leave Open". I can't speak for others, but that's what I say.

I suggest closing - well, that's already done, actually - and migrating.


I can see it going both ways. Certainly, the answer is purely about the physics of dropping a relatively light object through several hundred kilometers of atmosphere with the precision to hit and kill a human sized object but the circumstances and motivation are purely fantastical. If there were no fantastical element, I'd say send it to Physics SE but since there is such an element, I vote to keep it here.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree. Its about design and plausibility. $\endgroup$ – James May 30 '17 at 20:33

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