Sep 09-Dec 01, 2019
Credit: 3 undergraduate
Instructor(s): Gregory Reinemer

Course Description

Registration begins on March 25th - please register for CRN 20769.
This course approaches Einstein's theory of Special Relativity with a geometric perspective instead of through the Lorentz Transformations used in most introductory texts. There are two advantages to this approach:
  • 1) It leads to a more useful method for visualizing and solving problems in SR (Special Relativity) and with a modified Pythagorean Theorem and spacetime diagrams we can answer any question with confidence.
  • 2) Since geometry is the foundation for General Relativity (GR), this approach affords a seamless transition for students taking GR in the spring.
The first part of the course builds visualization and problem-solving techniques; then we demystify the various “paradoxes” in SR, which are really just naive questions rather than true paradoxes. Toward the end we explore the implications for energy and momentum conservation necessary for analyzing particle collisions at relativistic speeds.

Note: This course is a prerequisite for General Relativity, which is scheduled for spring semester 2020.

Meeting Place and Times

Teachers log into the course at a time of day that best fits their schedule. While the course is in session it will be necessary to login at least 4-6 times per week. Typically you will spend 10-12 hours each week either online or offline working on course-related assignments to stay current and successfully complete this 3 credit upper level undergraduate course.


Gregory Reinemer, PhD. in physics from Montana State University, Bozeman MT. He is a veteran online instructor and has been teaching Special Relativity for MSU for 13 years.


Satisfactory completion of an introductory physics course.

Target Audience

This course is designed primarily for high school science teachers. However, college undergraduates are welcome and special high school students may be considered on recommendation of their teacher.

Time Commitment:

10-12 hours per week. If you are unfamiliar with this field of study and/or method of delivery, you may require more time.

Tuition and Fees

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Online Only Tuition and Fee table below:

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Required Books/Materials

  • Taylor, E., and Wheeler, A.; Spacetime Physics, 2nd Edition. W.H. Freeman, 1992.
    ISBN-13: 978-0716723271 ISBN-10: 0716723271
    Available in used paperback for $44.66 or in new hardcover for $159.95 through Amazon.

You are on your own to purchase Spacetime Physics. You should have it prior to the beginning of the course.

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.
  • Ideally, homework will be submitted electronically as a Microsoft Word document, but other options will be considered on an individual basis.
  • You will need to use an equation editor for homework. Word has a built-in editor that works fine, but it may not have been installed automatically with Office. Another option is MathType, an editor that replaces Microsoft Equation in Word. There is also an equation editor in D2L, your web interface with the course, for use in the online discussion.
  • You will also need to download and learn how to use Geogebra, a free drawing/math program you can download at Geogebra (

This course uses a learning management system. You will learn more closer to the course start date.

Do not let the software requirements stop you from taking this course. We are willing to work with you and your system.

For More Information

Regarding registration, please contact Kelly Boyce by phone at (800)282-6062 or (406)994-6812, or by email at

For questions regarding course content, please contact Gregory Reinemer at

How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN number. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.