David Politzer

The Physics of Banjos is based on an in-depth filmed conversation between Howard Burton and David Politzer, 2004 Nobel Laureate and the Richard Chace Tolman Professor of Theoretical Physics at Caltech. This extensive conversation examines many of the intriguing aspects associated with the physics of banjos, including the ocarina effect, string-stretching, the subtleties of how we hear pitch, transient growth, and the mysterious ringing sound of banjos; while also touching briefly on contemporary issues in black holes and particle physics.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Dancing To His Own Tune, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

  1. The Feynman Experience – Inspirational encounters
  2. Love at First Sound – The joy of the banjo
  3. The Holy Grail – The challenge of qualifying sound
  4. The Ocarina Effect – Probing the effect of rim height of the open-back banjo
  5. Hearing Pitch – Not so simple
  6. Relative Strengths –  Break angles
  7. Transient Growth – Coupled,  damped oscillators
  8. The Working Physicist – Ruminations from the front lines
  9. The Journey Continues – Joys, frustrations, and the banjo brotherhood


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