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Under the well-answered, currently closed and on its way to be reopened (please vote!) question What is the products of a catalyzed reaction between Hydrogen Peroxide and Ethanolamine with Copper(II) Chloride? I've written an impassioned plea for reopening:

I'm voting to reopen because it's sufficiently related to space exploration to be of interest to readers of this site. Any rocket scientist or engineer will tell you that you must know the reaction products when designing a rocket. They enter into the thermodynamics and ISP calculation and into the materials choices for the nozzle. We have many well received questions about chemistry here, and reaction products feature regularly in questions and answers. There's no benefit to prevent answers to this question, and it presents a loss to future readers.

All of these required reaction product-based chemistry answers. These are all chemistry questions because rockets are chemical reactions!

The question in question has several well-received answers, I'd like to maximize their visibility by removing the "stain" of closure and I'd also like to stop the needless blocking of answers that anybody might want to add in the future that the closure imposes.

Questions:

  1. Should this question be reopened? (only three more votes required!)
  2. At what point does a question about what happens inside a rocket engine become absolutely off-topic here?

I wrote in the Pod Bay:

I think sometimes people see things like "Copper(II) Chloride" and have flashbacks of high school Chemistry, panic, and vote to close; "make it go away! make it go away!"

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There are many fields of science and engineering that overlap space exploration. Certainly chemistry is one, as is physics, biology, geology, etc. Chemistry is important to space exploration in more ways than just combustion chamber relations - there are the reactions that take place in fuel cells, in the shocks of reentry vehicles, in life support equipment, etc.

Hard and fast rules about how much of these fields are on-topic here are not practical. As in so many things in life, judgement is required. And not everyone will have the same opinion, hence the voting system.

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Chemical reactions should need to demonstrate that they are suitable for use in a rocket engine, before they can be considered on-topic here. Otherwise, you are literally opening up every possible chemical reaction for discussion.

The reaction could end up being endothermic, or producing a black tarry deposit, and we've gained nothing by the question.


These are all chemistry questions because rockets are chemical reactions!

Well, we have questions about food, but that doesn't make every question about food on-topic.

(Combining the two topics, bagels and LOX are good for astronauts, bad for engines.)

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  • $\begingroup$ "Chemical reactions should need to demonstrate that they are suitable for use in a rocket engine..." What about MOXIE or perchlorate or Sabatier-related questions? I think it will be quite a challenge to write a rule for what chemistry questions are off-topic without ruling out questions that should be ask-able here. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 22 at 10:38
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for this joke, lol "Combining the two topics, bagels and LOX are good for astronauts, bad for engines." $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Mod Mar 23 at 13:40
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The "voting system" is no panacea.

Close voting is not just an expression of an opinion like a comment is.

It takes only five (or less) users to shut down a question and prevent anyone from posting an answer. It then takes days to reopen with five more votes, slowing down and discouraging prospective answerers from putting in the time and effort to write one up.

The "voting system" is not a free and fair election. It is not a poll that gets a sample that reflects how the community feels. Five people can quickly prevent anyone and everyone from posting an answer for days.

This easily produces a loss of momentum; and as such, close voting is a drag! (see what I did there?)

Therefore I would recommend substantial caution before closing a question just because it's got some chemistry words in it.

And "better asked on..." is not a close reason.

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