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EDITORIAL

Am. J. Phys. 92, 325–326 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0210880

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Am. J. Phys. 92, 327–328 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0209857
Am. J. Phys. 92, 328 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0199004

PAPERS

Am. J. Phys. 92, 329–335 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0148649

Editor's Note: Motivated by a desire for textbooks to describe the work of scientists from more diverse backgrounds, the authors of this paper developed a simple tool to characterize the backgrounds of scientists whose work appears in textbooks. The paper describes the methodology and algorithm, as well as the results from testing a range of textbooks. The tool is freely available, with the goal of helping authors develop more representative textbooks as well as helping students and instructors analyze existing textbooks.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 336–342 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0121625

Editor's Note: Essentially anyone who has attended college or worked in an academic setting will recognize assessment as a central component of a course. Instructors will also be familiar with the variety of ways in which traditional assessments can actually impede learning. Alternative assessment frameworks are becoming more popular, and this article presents one such approach where students' labor determines their grade. We hope that this article leads readers to critically examine the role assessment plays in their courses.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 343–348 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0166698

Editor's Note: It is commonly known that Newton derived the Kepler orbits that result from an inverse square central force in his famous work Principia. But fewer people know that Newton also considered precessing orbits in Principia, showing that they are produced by an inverse cubed central force. Subsequent texts on precessing orbits explored the problem with such technical detail that the simplicity of the original problem was often lost. This paper presents the derivation using modern techniques, while also frequently referring back to Newton's original derivation to provide context, providing a nice introduction to the topic appropriate for undergraduate mechanics students.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 349–353 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0159075

Editor's Note: This straightforward analysis of predicted orbital precession could serve in introductory physics and astronomy courses, particularly in evaluating the likelihood of orbital collisions.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 354–359 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0182191

Editor's Note: Readers who are familiar with differential forms will enjoy seeing how they can be employed to prove several new vector calculus identities. But even readers who do not follow those derivations will benefit from seeing how these identities can be employed to find forces and torques on current-carrying loops.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 360–366 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0122288

Editor's Note: Screening in dielectrics is a measure of the strength of Coulomb interactions. Because of the reduced dimensionality, screening is hampered in 2D or quasi-1D materials, with important consequences in nanometer-scale systems that are currently important to the condensed matter community. This paper explains why reduced dimensionality reduces the screening. The topic is appropriate for undergraduate electromagnetism classes or advanced condensed matter courses.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 367–370 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0167423

Editor's Note: This article describes two classical derivations of the hyperfine interaction in hydrogen. In contrast to familiar derivations, these involve no singularities in the magnetic field of the electron. Instead, the interaction energy of a localized proton magnetic moment in the smooth field of an electron in a 1 s orbital is calculated using both bound magnetic charges and bound currents, and the general equivalence of these two approaches is proved. The analysis is accessible in a junior-level electrodynamics course and connects classical electrodynamics to quantum mechanics, as well as the 21 cm line used in astronomy and astrophysics.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 371–374 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0151405

Editor's Note: The Born rule predicts the probability of the outcome of a measurement on a quantum system, which depends on the projection of the initial state onto the eigenstates of the observable operator. This article shows that the Born rule can be derived from the other axioms of quantum mechanics theory by assuming non-contextuality: the probability of the outcome only depends on the final observed eigenstate. These derivations do not assume any particular interpretation of the theory and could be used as an exercise for undergraduate or graduate students studying the foundations of quantum mechanics.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 375–384 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0094141

Editor's Note: Since the late 20th century, granular materials have been recognized as forming a distinct state of matter, neither solid nor liquid, but amenable to a statistical description. It turns out that dissipation, through inter-grain friction, governs the large-scale properties of these systems, so that the usual Boltzmann–Gibbs statistics is replaced by the Edwards statistics. These statistics are full of surprises. For instance, model granular systems can exhibit a critical point at infinite-temperature. To know more, you can delve into this paper, which can be used in advanced statistical physics courses, or as a graduate-level introduction to soft matter.

INSTRUCTIONAL LABORATORIES AND DEMONSTRATIONS

Am. J. Phys. 92, 385–391 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0173941

Editor's Note: This paper reports the development of an advanced instructional laboratory experiment aimed at teaching undergraduates about the physics and applications of multimode interference effects in optical fibers. The experiment is based on an in-fiber Mach-Zehnder strain sensor, which is fabricated by fusion-splicing a thin core fiber between two single-mode fiber leads. The experiment introduces students to optical fiber sensing in a cost-effective way and applies theoretical concepts they have learned in courses in the areas of wave guides, optical interference, and spectral analysis. Experimental results are presented for the sensor's output optical interference spectrum as well as the spectral response to strain. This experiment will be of interest to advanced laboratory and upper-level optics course instructors.

NOTES AND DISCUSSIONS

Am. J. Phys. 92, 392–394 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0193289

Editor's Note: The LIGO analogy lab [Am. J. Phys. 87, 44 (2019)] includes advanced experiments in which op-amp-based mixing and feedback circuits are used to lock the length of an optical cavity using heterodyne detection. This Note describes an alternate, Arduino-based controller that implements the heterodyning technique in a significantly less complex and easier to troubleshoot manner. This simplified approach makes the advanced LIGO analog experiments accessible to a wider audience in advanced instructional and optics laboratory courses.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 395–396 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0187579

Editor's Note: This is a short resolution of the paradox concerning the motion of a rolling wheel, involving standard Lorentz transformations. It can serve as an insightful application in classroom introductions to the special theory of relativity.

Am. J. Phys. 92, 397–398 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0188912

Editor's Note: No calculator allowed: Which is greater: e π or π e? If you bet on the former, you win. This brief paper shows how this question can be answered by applying the second law of thermodynamics to a reservoir at absolute temperature e in contact with a finite body of temperature π and evaluating the change in entropy as they come to equilibrium. The argument is then extended to showing that, in general, the inequality e x > x e also holds. A fun example for all thermodynamics students.

BOOK REVIEWS

Am. J. Phys. 92, 399–400 (2024) https://doi.org/10.1119/5.0209209
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