Physics major

mhcc.edu/Science

Faculty Adviser

David Faust: 503-491-7358 | Room AC2563 | David.Faust@mhcc.edu

Physics is the study of the structure and organization of the universe. It encompasses the observation of forces and matter, of motion, of cause and effect, and of the intrinsic properties of space and time. Physics analyzes these concepts in detail and uses them to synthesize models of complex phenomena.

Curricular Outcomes

At the completion of this curriculum, students should be able to:

  • Retain and apply critical physics concepts while enrolled in the curriculum and upon transfer
  • Work cooperatively, use equipment and instruments properly and carefully analyze data in the laboratory setting
  • Demonstrate mastery of physics concepts
  • Transition conceptual material into accurate mathematical models
  • Utilize calculus-based mathematics to solve physics problems

Students interested in pursuing the Physics major can complete the following courses toward the Science requirement and/or electives on the AS (recommended), AAOT, ASOT-B, AGS or ASLA degrees. Students are highly encouraged to work with a university transfer adviser to ensure transferability of courses. Admitted students may also log on to Navigate to start the process of building an academic plan based on this major and can notify an adviser for review.

PH211General Physics with Calculus I5
PH212General Physics with Calculus II5
PH213General Physics with Calculus III5
 

Suggested electives include:

PH109CObservational Astronomy3
PH121General Astronomy3
PH122General Astronomy3
PH123General Astronomy3
MTH243Statistics I (Course offered online)4
MTH244Statistics II4
MTH261Linear Algebra4

Transfer Schools

The following shows just one example of how students can complete an Associate of Science degree while also taking lower-division physics courses. Be sure to work with an MHCC adviser and the transfer institution you'd like to attend to ensure correct courses are being taken. Not all courses are offered every term. Click on a course number to see what term(s) the course is typically offered.

Plan of Study Grid
First QuarterCredits
CH221 General Chemistry I 5
MTH251 Calculus I: Differential Calculus 5
WR121 English Composition (Course offered online) 4
Arts & Letters 3-4
 Credits18
Second Quarter
CH222 General Chemistry II 5
MTH252 Calculus II: Integral Calculus 5
WR122
English Composition: Critical Thinking (Course offered online)
or Technical Report Writing (Course offered online)
4
Social Science 3-4
 Credits17
Third Quarter
CH223 General Chemistry III 5
MTH253 Calculus III 4
Elective / university requirement 3
 Credits12
Fourth Quarter
MTH254 Calculus IV: Multivariable/ Vector Calculus Part 1 5
PH211 General Physics with Calculus I 5
Arts & Letters 3-4
 Credits13
Fifth Quarter
MTH256 Differential Equations 5
PH212 General Physics with Calculus II 5
Social Science 3-4
Elective / university requirement 3
 Credits16-17
Sixth Quarter
PH213 General Physics with Calculus III 5
Oral Communication (COMM111 recommended) 3-4
Health & Physical Education 3
Elective / university requirement 3
 Credits14-15
 Total Credits90-92

PH104 Descriptive Astronomy

Credits 4Summer

Registration Requirement: RD090 and WR090, or IECC201R and IECC201W; and MTH020; each with a grade of "C" or better, or placement above stated course levels.

Descriptive treatment of the history of astronomy which includes planetary and lunar motion, moon phases, constellations, stars and galaxies. Topics include the origin of the solar system, asteroids, meteors, comets, stellar evolution, galaxies, black holes, quasars and cosmology. An accompanying laboratory is used for demonstrations, experiments and projects as well as outdoor observations.

This course fulfills: Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Apply Kepler's laws to determine relative planet orbital speeds
  2. Apply Kepler's Third Law to calculate the masses of nearby stars
  3. Calculate the distance to a star using the Distance-Magnitude formula
  4. Describe and illustrate the geocentric and heliocentric models of the solar system
  5. Describe how black holes are formed
  6. Describe the appearance, origin, and characteristics of absorption, emission and continuous spectra
  7. Describe the behavior and suspected cause of the solar magnetic cycle and its effects on sunspots, prominences flares and coronal mass ejections
  8. Describe the composition and distribution of the interstellar medium and how its contents are detected at visible and non-visible wavelengths
  9. Describe the main features of the Milky Way galaxy
  10. Describe the purpose and design of the H-R diagram, including the locations of super giant, giant, and main-sequence, and white dwarf stars and explain how the H-R diagram is used to calculate luminosity
  11. Determine the approximate age of galactic and globular star clusters using the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram
  12. Determine the luminosity, absolute magnitude and temperature of a star using the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram
  13. Explain and apply the concepts of the celestial sphere, celestial equator, the ecliptic right ascension and declination
  14. Explain current theories of the origin of the solar system, differences between the terrestrial and Jovian planets, the origin of asteroids, comets and trans-Neptunian objects
  15. Explain how the Hubble Law and general theory of relativity predict the expansion of the universe and the geometry of space time
  16. Explain spectral classification and how the appearance of a spectrum indicates stellar temperature
  17. Explain the difference between a Type I and Type ll supernova
  18. Explain the significance of the cosmic background radiation
  19. Extrapolate absolute magnitude from apparent magnitude
  20. Identify and describe chemical elements in stars using a diffraction grating
  21. Identify and describe the three major layers of the solar atmosphere and how each is observed
  22. Identify the three major morphological classes of galaxies and describe their characteristics
  23. Locate major constellations, planets and star clusters in the evening sky
  24. Measure and compare the distance to selected stars using the parallax formula
  25. Outline the process by which stars form, from molecular clouds to main sequence

PH109C Observational Astronomy

Credits 3Summer

A course designed to introduce students to the fundamentals of observing the night sky. Students learn to use telescopes, star charts and photographic equipment to investigate the moon, planets, star clusters, galaxies and nebulae. Evening field trips away from the Portland light dome are required.

This course fulfills: Non-Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Become familiar with a variety of Deep Sky Objects as described in Messier's catalog and other catalogs
  2. Demonstrate the celestial coordinate system
  3. Describe the advantages and disadvantages of telescope mounts
  4. Describe the light path though Newtonian and refractor telescopes
  5. Identify and diagram stars, nebulae, galaxies, star clusters and planets using binoculars and telescopes with the aid of a star atlas
  6. Know how to use a camera to photograph the night sky
  7. Locate and illustrate major features on the Moon
  8. Maintain an observing log (including drawings) of all objects studied with telescope, binoculars and the unaided eye
  9. Use the school's Solar Observatory for observing current solar activity

PH121 General Astronomy

Credits 3Fall

Registration Requirement: RD090 and WR090, or IECC201R and IECC201W; and MTH020; each with a grade of "C" or better, or placement above stated course levels.

Descriptive treatment of the history of astronomy including the contributions of Kepler, Galileo and Newton; telescopes, light and the spectrum; Earth as a planet and the moon. This course is intended primarily for the general college student who is not majoring in a physical science. The planetarium is used extensively and is supplemented by occasional viewing of celestial objects with a telescope.

This course fulfills: Non-Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Apply an understanding of solar system models to explain the motions and phases of astronomical objects visible to the naked eye in the night sky
  2. Demonstrate the ability to access astronomical information from a variety of sources and evaluate the quality of this information
  3. Demonstrate the ability to make field-based observations and measurements of astronomical phenomena and use scientific reasoning to interpret these observations and measurements
  4. Differentiate between the theories of Brahe, Kepler, Galileo and Newton
  5. Distinguish the difference between the Ptolemaic and Copernican models of the solar system

PH122 General Astronomy

Credits 3Winter

Registration Requirement: RD090 and WR090, or IECC201R and IECC201W; and MTH020; each with a grade of "C" or better, or placement above stated course levels.

Descriptive treatment of the solar system including the terrestrial planets, the Jovian planets, comets, meteors, asteroids and meteorites. The planetarium star projector is used in conjunction with star charts to help students locate planets and other celestial objects in the night sky. Course may be taken out of sequence.

This course fulfills: Non-Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Analyze the similarities and differences between the surfaces of Venus and Earth
  2. Compare and contrast the atmospheres of Venus and Earth
  3. Compare and contrast the planets Saturn and Jupiter
  4. Compare and contrast the surface features of the Galilean Moons
  5. Compare the cratered regions of Mercury the Moon and Mars and formulate an explanation about the environmental histories of these bodies
  6. Compare the surfaces of Mercury and the Moon
  7. Describe the seasons on Uranus
  8. Describe the three main classifications of meteorites
  9. Describe Titan's atmosphere
  10. Discuss comets observable in the current night sky
  11. Discuss the difference between a meteor and a meteorite
  12. Discuss the findings of the current Mercury MESSENGER orbiter
  13. Discuss the findings of the recent and current Mars missions including Spirit, Opportunity, Curiosity and Mars orbiters
  14. Evaluate Earth as a planet and discuss how its geologic and atmospheric properties contrast with those of the other Terrestrial Planets
  15. Evaluate evidence astronomers adduce to arrive at a model of conditions on Mars in the past
  16. Evaluate evidence gathered from meteorites to explain the origin of the planets and asteroids
  17. Evaluate the debates that led up to the current definition of what constitutes a planet
  18. Evaluate theories that seek to explain why the Jovian planets are so massive
  19. Evaluate theories which seek to explain why Mars was a wetter and warmer planet
  20. Explain and evaluate current theories of the formation of the solar system
  21. Explain the cause of belts and zones on Jupiter
  22. Explain the difference between a differentiated and undifferentiated meteorite
  23. Explain the earth's magnetic field and the origin of the aurora
  24. Explain theories which seek to explain ring systems
  25. Explain why asteroids, meteoroids and comets are of special interest to astronomers who seek to understand the early history of the solar system
  26. Explain why Mercury is so difficult to observe
  27. Explain why the Allende meteorite is so important to our understanding of the origin of the solar system Asteroids, Comets and Meteorites
  28. Explain why Uranus and Neptune are bluer than Jupiter and Saturn

PH123 General Astronomy

Credits 3Spring

Registration Requirement: RD090 and WR090, or IECC201R and IECC201W; and MTH020; each with a grade of "C" or better, or placement above stated course levels.

Descriptive treatment of stars and their evolution, the sun nebulae, star clusters, the Milky Way, galaxies, black holes, neutron stars, quasars and the expanding universe. Course may be taken out of sequence.

This course fulfills: Non-Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Analyze the observations which led to the theory that the universe is expanding
  2. Describe and calculate the difference between apparent and absolute magnitude
  3. Describe how astronomers use stellar parallax to measure the distances to stars
  4. Describe how Cepheid variables are used as distance indicators
  5. Describe the Big Bang theory and its scientific support as a part of the study of Cosmology
  6. Describe the main features of the Sun's: photosphere, chromosphere, corona, prominences, flares and sunspots
  7. Describe the nucleus and spiral arms of the Milky Way
  8. Describe the three main layers of the Sun's interior
  9. Discuss current observations that show a massive black hole at the center of our Milky Way galaxy
  10. Discuss the explanation astronomers adduce to posit the existence of dark matter
  11. Draw an H-R diagram and sketch the regions occupied by main-sequence stars, giants, supergiants and white dwarfs
  12. Explain and illustrate the difference between a normal spiral, barred spiral, elliptical and irregular galaxy
  13. Explain and illustrate thermonuclear reactions in the Sun's core
  14. Explain how black holes are discovered
  15. Explain how Edwin Hubble determined the distance to the Andromeda Galaxy
  16. Explain how normal matter is converted into a black hole
  17. Explain how the chemical elements in a star are determined
  18. Explain how thermonuclear reactions change for stars of high mass as they age
  19. Explain the 22 year solar cycle
  20. Explain the role giant molecular clouds play in star formation
  21. Explain why the spectrum of a star is related to its surface temperature
  22. Illustrate and describe the process that leads to a supernova
  23. Illustrate how a planetary nebula is formed
  24. Illustrate the location of the solar system in the Milky Way galaxy

PH201 General Physics I

Credits 5Fall

Registration Requirement: RD090 and WR090, or IECC201R and IECC201W; and MTH112; each with a grade of "C" or better, or placement above stated course levels. A scientific calculator is required. A graphing calculator may be required.

Physical laws and theories are developed and discussed. This course is intended primarily for the general college student who is not majoring in a physical science. The following topics are developed: vectors, one- and two-dimensional kinematics, dynamics, uniform circular motion, work, energy, impulse and momentum, rotational kinematics and dynamics, static equilibrium, gravitation and fluid statics.

This course fulfills: Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Analyze the motion of objects which are moving in one or two dimensions.
  2. Apply conservation of momentum to collisions and explosions.
  3. Apply force methods and vectors to solve dynamics problems.
  4. Apply work/energy methods as an alternate way of predicting an object's motion.
  5. Compute rotational quantities for an object spinning about its own axis.
  6. Solve problems involving an object partially or completely submerged in a fluid.

PH202 General Physics II

Credits 5Winter

Registration Requirement: PH201. A scientific calculator is required. A graphing calculator may be required.

The following topics are developed: simple harmonic motion, temperature, thermal expansion, thermal energy and phase changes, gas laws and thermodynamics, waves, sound, interference, reflection, refraction and geometric optics.

This course fulfills: Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Analyze vibrations and waves
  2. Apply geometric and analytical methods to explain optics phenomena
  3. Solve thermodynamics problems

PH203 General Physics III

Credits 5Spring

Registration Requirement: PH202. A scientific calculator is required. A graphing calculator may be required.

The following topics are developed: electric forces and fields, potential and potential energy, electric circuits, magnetic forces and fields, electromagnetic induction and alternating current circuits.

This course fulfills: Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Analyze direct-current electrical circuits
  2. Analyze series alternating-current electrical circuits
  3. Apply physics principles to the solution of electromagnetic induction problems
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in solving problems involving magnetism
  5. Solve problems in electrostatics

PH211 General Physics with Calculus I

Credits 5Fall

Registration Requirement: RD090 and WR090, or IECC201R and IECC201W; and MTH251; each with a grade of "C" or better, or placement above stated course levels.

General Physics with Calculus includes the following topics: motion in one and two dimensions, particle dynamics, work, energy, momentum, conservation of energy and momentum, collision theory, rotational kinematics and dynamics, rigid body equilibrium, universal gravitation and fluid statics are treated using practical problems and examples. Emphasis is placed on logical reasoning, thorough understanding of the principles and the ability to successfully solve numerical problems. Vector notation is employed extensively. The theory and results of classical mechanics are used to predict the behavior of actual physical systems and explain phenomena commonly encountered in the real world.

This course fulfills: Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Apply calculus methods to problems in classical mechanics
  2. Apply conservation of momentum to collisions and explosions
  3. Apply force methods to solve dynamics problems
  4. Apply work/energy methods as an alternate way of predicting an object's motion
  5. Compute rotational quantities for an object spinning about its own axis
  6. Solve kinematics problems
  7. Solve problems involving an object partially or completely submerged in a fluid

PH212 General Physics with Calculus II

Credits 5Winter

Registration Requirement: PH211.

Provides prospective science and engineering majors with a thorough basic knowledge of thermodynamics, geometrical and physical optics, simple harmonic motion and wave motion.

This course fulfills: Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Analyze vibrations and waves
  2. Apply calculus methods to problems involving vibrations, waves, thermodynamics, and optics
  3. Apply geometric and analytical methods to explain optics phenomena
  4. Solve thermodynamics problems

PH213 General Physics with Calculus III

Credits 5Spring

Registration Requirement: PH212

Provides engineering and science majors with those topics within the scope of electricity and magnetism.

This course fulfills: Lab Science

View Course Outcomes:

  1. Analyze alternating-current electrical circuits
  2. Analyze direct-current electrical circuits
  3. Apply calculus methods to problems in electrostatics, electric circuits, and magnetism
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in solving problems involving magnetism
  5. Solve electromagnetic induction problems
  6. Solve problems in electrostatics

Course offered online

Cultural Literacy course