Two papers I submitted a while ago were accepted for publication by the American Journal of Physics this week, within minutes of each other as a matter of fact.  To be precise, they were “conditionally accepted,” meaning that they’ve successfully passed the review by external referees and the science content been deemed acceptable.  There’s a further review by the editors for style, clarity, etc., before they’re  finally accepted.  Because AJP is a journal with a pedagogical slant, they place a heavy emphasis on clarity, which is probably why they have this “conditional acceptance” stage.

Both of these are less technical than the usual research paper: they’re intended for readers who know some physics but are not necessarily specialists in any particular field.  The first one requires a bit of knowledge of relativity (students who took my Physics 479 course should be fine) , and the second one requires just undergraduate-level thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.

The first article is on the correct interpretation to place on the observed redshifts of galaxies in the expanding Universe.  I blogged about it when we originally submitted it.  These redshifts are usually described as being due to the “stretching of space,” but David Hogg and I argue that this conceptual model is misleading.  We claim that, contrary to what you often see in introductory textbooks,  it’s correct to think of the redshift as being due to a plain old Doppler shift.

Here’s the revised version of the paper.  It  doesn’t differ all that much from the one we originally submitted, although some aspects of the argument are expanded and clarified a bit in response to the referees’ comments.

The second article is on the relationship between entropy and the second law of thermodynamics.  It’s a response to a very nice paper by Daniel Styer, which attempts to show quantitatively that the entropy production due to sunlight is more than enough to account for the entropy reduction required for biological evolution (contrary to claims often made by creationists).  The original article had a serious gap in it: it depended on an assumption that was unjustified and, I argue, almost certainly wrong.  My paper presents an argument that doesn’t depend on that assumption.  The new argument shows quite rigorously that there is no conflict between evolution and the second law.

I blogged about the original Styer article and about my response a while back.  Here’s the revised version of the paper.  Thanks to the referees, I think the new version is much clearer than the original.  It’s also much longer.  I was thinking of the original as just a comment on Styer’s earlier paper, but the new version reads more like a stand-alone article.

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Ted Bunn

I am chair of the physics department at the University of Richmond. In addition to teaching a variety of undergraduate physics courses, I work on a variety of research projects in cosmology, the study of the origin, structure, and evolution of the Universe. University of Richmond undergraduates are involved in all aspects of this research. If you want to know more about my research, ask me!

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