Carroll College, Helena Montana

Course Descriptions

PHYS: Courses in Physics

Department of Natural Sciences

PHYS 103 Physical Science 4 Cr
One-semester course designed to meet the physical science requirement for elementary education or the science requirement for the Core. Topics will include mechanics, heat, electricity, magnetism, sound, and light. Additional topics may include chemistry, fluids, nuclear physics, or astronomy. Three one-hour lectures and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: none. Equivalent of high school algebra recommended. Offered fall semester if warranted by sufficient demand. Lab fee required. Not currently offered.

PHYS 104 Astronomy 3 Cr
An introduction to astronomy for the non-science major. This course satisfies the Core requirement for a lab course in natural sciences. The course begins with an historical development of astronomy and a qualitative account of relevant principles of science. Topics include the tools of astronomy, the solar system, stars and stellar evolution, the Milky Way, extragalactic astronomy, cosmology, and life in the universe. Two one-hour lectures and one two-hour laboratory per week. Spring semester.

PHYS 155 Robotics and Experimental Physics 3 Cr
Learn how to build and control simple robotic devices, and along the way you will learn the fundamentals of logic and control common to all computer programming languages. We will perform numerous discovery exercises in the laboratory, to introduce and practice experimental methods and mathematical modeling useful for physics. Two 2-hour laboratories per week. Prerequisites: Mathematics at the level of high-school pre-calculus (i.e., algebra, trigonometry, and elementary functions) will be used throughout this course, but calculus is not a prerequisite; high-school physics is recommended but not required. Fulfills the Core requirement for a laboratory course in the natural sciences. Fall semester.

PHYS 160 Einstein’s Physics 3 Cr
Is it possible to travel faster than the speed of light? Could time travel become a reality? Would it be possible to create a teleporter? Do wormholes exist? Is antimatter real? To answer these questions we will explore the key ideas of relativity and quantum mechanics, and the famous experiments that led to the discovery of these ideas. We will study the relative nature of time, wave/particle duality, and the uncertainty principle in detail. Two one-hour lectures and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Mathematics at the level of high-school pre-calculus (i.e., algebra, trigonometry, and elementary functions) will be used throughout this course, but calculus is not a prerequisite; high-school physics is recommended but not required. Fulfills the Core requirement for a laboratory course in the natural sciences. Spring semester.

PHYS 201 Physics I: Mechanics, Wave Motion, & Sound 4 Cr
An introductory algebra-based physics course, with emphasis on the principles of physics, for health sciences majors. Topics include classical mechanics, oscillatory (wave) motion, sound, and the behavior of solids and fluids. Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisites: Proficiency in high school algebra and trigonometry or MA 112. Students must pass prerequisites with a grade of “C” or better to enroll in PHYS 201. Fall semester.

PHYS 202 Physics II: Thermodynamics, Electricity, Magnetism, Optics, and Modern Physics  4 Cr
A continuation of PHYS 201. Topics include thermal physics, electrical and magnetic phenomena, simple electrical circuits, optics, and quantum physics. Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: PHYS 201. Students must pass prerequisites with a grade of “C” or better to enroll in PHYS 202. Spring semester.

PHYS 205 Physics Using Calculus I: Mechanics 4 Cr
An introductory calculus-based physics course for physics, chemistry, and engineering majors. Topics include statics, kinematics, and dynamics of particles and rigid bodies, work and energy, conservation of energy and momentum (linear and angular), harmonic motion. Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: MA 122 or MA 131 required,
high school physics recommended. Students must pass prerequisites with a grade of “C” or better to enroll in PHYS 205. Fall semester.

PHYS 206 Physics Using Calculus II: Electricity, and Magnetism 4 Cr
A continuation of PHYS 205. Topics include electrostatics and Gauss’ Law, dielectrics, DC circuits, electromotive force, magnetic field and magnetic properties of matter. Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: PHYS 205 required, high school physics recommended. Students must pass PHYS 205 with a grade of “C” or better to enroll in PHYS 206. Spring semester.

PHYS/ENGR 305 Electronics and Circuit Analysis I 4 Cr
An introductory survey of the behavior of electrical circuits. Review of current, voltage, and passive circuit elements (resistors, capacitors, and inductors). Kirchhoff’s Laws, network theorems, and basic network analysis. General characteristics of amplifiers and electronic instrumentation. Introduction to operational amplifiers and active elements (transistors). Laplace transform analysis of transient (switching) response, and complex phasor analysis of sinusoidal steady-state response. Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week, in which students build and test circuits and learn how to use typical circuit simulation software (PSPICE). Prerequisites: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 202 or PHYS 206, MA 141, and MA 233. Fall semester.

PHYS/ENGR 306 Electronics and Circuit Analysis II 4 Cr
A continuation of PHYS/ENGR 305. Systematic node-voltage and mesh-current methods of circuit analysis. Network transfer functions and frequency spectra. Mutual inductance and transformers. Diode circuits and the behavior of single-transistor amplifiers using field-effect or bipolar-junction transistors. Analysis and design of digital logic circuits. Principles of operation and interfacing of typical laboratory instruments. Three hours lecture and one 2-hour laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Grade of “C” or better in PHYS/ENGR 305. Offered spring semesters if warranted by sufficient demand.

PHYS 321 Geometrical Optics 1 Cr
A survey of geometrical optics, including lenses, ray-tracing, analysis of simple optical instruments (microscopes, telescopes) and an introduction to interference phenomena. This course consists of the first five weeks of PHYS 323. Two 75-minute periods per week, one of which may be used for laboratory exercises. Prerequisites: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 206, MA 141, and MA 233. Fall semester, even-numbered years.

PHYS 323 Optics and Electromagnetic Radiation 3 Cr
A survey of geometrical and physical optics, including the behavior of electromagnetic radiation across the spectrum. Topics include the dual wave/particle nature of radiation, lenses and ray-tracing, analysis of simple optical instruments (microscopes, telescopes), interference and diffraction phenomena, lasers and holography. Two 75-minute periods per week, one of which may be used for laboratory exercises. Prerequisites: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 206, MA 141, and MA 233. Fall semester, even-numbered years.

PHYS 331 Computational Physics 3 Cr
A study of mathematical techniques and numerical computing methods used to solve problems of interest in physics. Topics include numerical solution of selected ordinary and partial differential equations (e.g., the wave equation, Laplace’s equation, Schrödinger’s equation), Monte Carlo simulations, and chaotic dynamics. Three hours lecture per week. Prerequisite: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 160, PHYS 206, MA 233, MA 334 and MA 342. Fall semester, even-numbered years.

PHYS 340 Mechanics* 3 Cr
An intermediate course in classical mechanics. General treatment of the motion of particles in two and three dimensions, using Cartesian and polar coordinate systems. Static equilibrium of systems is studied, as is the central-force problem and rigid-body rotation, including the inertia tensor. Introduction to the Lagrangian and Hamiltonian formulations of mechanics. Three hours lecture per week. Prerequisite: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 331. Spring semester, odd-numbered years.

PHYS 342 Thermal Physics 3 Cr
An introduction to classical thermodynamics and statistical descriptions of many-particle systems For the first five weeks of this course, students attend ENGR 308 (taught in the same time slot) to receive an introduction to thermodynamics: definition of the fundamental state variables (temperature, pressure, energy, enthalpy, entropy) and formulation of the three laws of thermodynamics. Subsequent topics include diffusion and the random-walk problem, characterization of statistical ensembles and the meaning of equilibrium, partition functions, free energies, and entropy. The Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution for classical systems is contrasted with the Bose-Einstein and Fermi-Dirac distributions of quantum-mechanical systems. Three hours lecture per week. Prerequisite: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 160, PHYS 206, MA 233 and MA 334. Spring semester, even-numbered years.

PHYS 345 Electromagnetism 3 Cr
An intermediate course utilizing vector calculus to study electrostatic and magnetostatic fields, both in vacuum and in matter. The relation between electrostatic and magnetostatic fields under relativistic transformations is studied, as are electrodynamics and Maxwell’s Equations, and the generation and propagation of electromagnetic radiation. Three hours lecture per week. Prerequisite: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 160, PHYS 206, MA 233 and MA 334. Fall semester, odd-numbered years.

PHYS 346 Quantum Mechanics* 3 Cr
An introduction to the use of wave functions, and their probabilistic interpretation, to characterize particles. Solutions of Schrödinger’s wave equation are studied in one dimension (particle in a box, harmonic oscillator) and three dimensions (hydrogen atom). Operator methods and perturbation techniques are also introduced. Additional topics may include multi-electron atoms and/or an introduction to solid-state physics. Three hours lecture per week. Prerequisite: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 160, PHYS 206, MA 233 and MA 334. Spring semester, odd-numbered years.

PHYS 452 Advanced Physics Lab* 3 Cr
A laboratory course intended to introduce students to computer-controlled experimentation. A few classic experiments of physics will be performed; others will be discussed from an experimental viewpoint. Emphasis is placed on proper experimental technique and written presentation of results. Two 2-hour laboratories per week. Prerequisite: Grades of “C” or better in PHYS 160, PHYS 305, PHYS 323, MA 315 and MA 334. Fulfills Writing Intensive requirement. Spring semester.