I recently asked a story ID question: Story ID: Oil well fire techniques used against space warp, got a prompt and correct answer with a link to the story, read the story, and i am now curious as to whether events as depicted in the story are in fact scientifically plausible, in-universe.

Specifically I want to ask if the wind effects caused by the space warp (or "congruence" as it is called in the story) are realistic. A good answer would require combining specific in-universe details from the story with real-world physics.

In this comment moderator Rand al'Thor advised that such questions are "usually off-topic" and linked to What is our actual policy on science questions? for this site's policy.

But after reading the linked thread, the question I have in mind seems near the rather fuzzy boundary between on-and off-topic questions established by the linked policy post.

Specifically, in the story "The Permanent Implosion" a small spherical locus on Earth is somehow made "congruent" with an unknown position somewhere in space, so that air within the locus spreads out into the adjacent vacuum of space, and air on Earth outside the locus rushes in to replace it and spreads into vacuum in turn. The story describes in vivid detail the effects of the resulting strong winds, and gives several measurements of the wind-speed and reduced air-pressure. There appears to be no fictional physics at work outside of the volume of the congruency. Aside from the existence of the congruency at the specified locus, this is the real world as understood in 1964, when the story was published.

I question whether air would flow in through the limited surface area of the locus in sufficient volume per unit time to produce the effects as described. That is, in my view, an in-universe question, and so would be off-topic on physics.se. I am asking if it would be on-topic here. Obviously I think and hope it would be, but I have no wish to violate community standards of what is off-topic.

I feel that this proposed question would clearly "relate directly to a specific cited work of fiction" and a work that is clearly SF. That would seem to me to make it on-topic by the policy as stated.

  • 2
    Just wanted to say: regardless of the on-topicness of your proposed question, this meta question is well-written and appreciated :-)
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Mar 27, 2022 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


The question (as posed in your meta question above) would be entirely off-topic. You're not interested in how it works in the story, you're interested in how such a phenomenon would work if it was translated into a real world setting, which means that it falls foul of our standard close for being science-based.

"Questions seeking scientific solutions or explanations are off-topic unless they relate directly to a cited work of fiction."

What you're actually asking is some variant of "What would be the wind effects of a localised spherical vaccuum (e.g. a black hole but without the gravity effects) that doesn't dissipate?". You'll note that no part of that is reliant on knowing anything about the story to be answered.


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