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Spring 2018 Program

Learn about exciting developments at the forefront of modern physics research, this year focusing on dark matter, quantum optics, particle accelerators, and neutron stars.

An event series for Texas High-School Students to go on a journey of discovering how physics can help us understand nature!

Twelfth Year Running!

Earn a certificate for sustained attendance!

View the program brochure


Physics is a fundamental science to unravel the laws of nature so that we improve our understanding and appreciation of the world around us from the smallest to the largest scales.

You are cordially invited to attend the 12th edition of SMP to get unique first-hand insights into how scientist push the frontiers of knowledge on fundamental laws of physics, the phases of matter, the Universe, and often unexpected applications.

Listen to and discuss with world-renowned scientists working at Texas A&M University who have agreed to share their newest research in an entertaining and understandable way.

Saturday Morning Physics is a National Science Foundation-funded event series designed to indulge Texas high school students in the fascinating subatomic world of modern physics.

No prerequisites necessary! (except for your curiosity...)

Teacher participation encouraged!

Each Saturday's program will consist of seminars, discussion, quizzes, experiments and tours of campus facilities.

The format for each Saturday's program will be as follows:

9:30 Registration and Welcome
10:00 Presentation
11:00 Discussion/Q&A
11:30-12:00 Quiz, Prizes, Hands-on Experiments, and Facility Tours


The registration desk opens at 9:30am, and it is essential for each student to register in person.




January 20th: "What does Dark Matter have to do with the Big Bang Theory?", Professor Dave Toback

Scientists have entered a golden age of discovery. We are starting to be able to answer some of the most exciting questions ever asked, including questions that touch on the Big Bang, the fundamental building blocks of nature, and the Dark Matter that fills the Universe. In this talk I will talk about Astronomy, Cosmology, Particle Physics and The Universe and the reasons to think that the biggest things in the Universe (like the Universe itself) and the smallest things (like quarks and electrons) are inextricably linked. Indeed, many of us believe there is a new, fundamental particle just around the corner waiting to be discovered that could all these things together


January 27th:  "Cooking with Physics" , Professor Igor Lyuksyutov

I'll discuss some cooking techniques from the physicist point of view similar to what was done in Harvard course "Cooking with science". See e.g. The main focus will be modern "Molecular Cousine". I'll show so-called spherification technique live. More information in my website


We are offering Cyclotron facility tours on January 27. Minors please download the permission slip and bring it to the event signed by a parent or guardian.


February 3rd: "Physics of Energy" , Professor Peter McIntyre

We transform Energy to run all of the technology of our civilization. Today Physics is revolutionizing the forms of energy that we tap to make our civilization cleaner, more efficient, and sustainable into the future. I will give some examples for solar, wind, and nuclear energy.


Special start time for this lecture: 9:45 AM

February 10th: "Life, the Universe, and everything—42 fundamental questions", Professor Suzy Lidström and Professor Roland Allen

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is found to be 42—but the meaning of this is left open to interpretation. We take it to mean that there are 42 fundamental questions which must be answered on the road to full enlightenment, and we attempt a first draft (or personal selection) of these ultimate questions, on topics ranging from the cosmological constant and origin of the Universe to the origin of life and consciousness.


February 17th: "Ultra-dense matter", Professor Jeremy Holt

Neutron stars are remarkable astrophysical objects so dense they lie just at the brink of collapsing into black holes. While a neutron star typically contains more mass than the Sun, four of them would fit comfortably within the area of Brazos county. Matter under these extreme conditions has peculiar characteristics governed largely by the laws of quantum physics. And unlike the case of black holes, astronomers can devise clever ways of observing neutron stars in order to deduce the composition of their exotic interiors. In this talk I will discuss the physics of neutron stars, what we understand of their properties from theoretical modeling, and what we might learn in the future with more detailed astronomical observations.


February 24th: "What makes the proton spin?" , Professor Carl Gagliardi

The proton is not an elementary point particle. It is a complex object made of more fundamental particles, quarks and gluons. However, we still donít understand the way quarks and gluons bind together to form the proton. In this talk, we will look inside the proton to see how these constituents come together to provide one of its fundamental properties, its spin.


March 3rd: "Simple quantum mechanics: how to understand unaccountable", Professor Alexey Akimov

Quantum mechanics been around over 100 year, but still many people feel they do not understand it. Been built upon rather simple principles it lead to conclusions not only ordinary people, but even some distinguished scientist cannot accept. In my lecture I will briefly describe main principles of quantum mechanics and show link between sometimes strange quantum and classical world surrounding us. We will discuss Schrodinger cats and entanglement, superposition and tunneling and how it happens that we do see all of it in our normal life. Or maybe we do, just do not know what we look for?


To be awarded a final "diploma" certificate, you will need to complete at least 5 out of 7 events. In addition, there is a common thread through the event sequence, so that regular attendance is beneficial.

Registration is free . On-site registration will be possible until 9:50 AM on the day of each event. There will be open attendance allowed at each session.

On-Line Registration

Each program will be held at the Physics Department in the Hawking Auditorium of the George P. Mitchell Physics Building on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, TX 77843.

Parking is available in the North Side Garage (adjacent to the venue). Visitor parking at the North Side Garage requires the purchase of a parking ticket at the vending machines close to the exits. Metered or free parking might also be found on city streets close by.

If you have any questions about the Saturday Morning Physics program please contact:

Prof. Ralf Rapp (
Prof. Rainer Fries (
Prof. Jeremy Holt (

Phone: 979-845-1411


Florida State University:
University of Michigan:
Darmstadt University (Germany):


Thanks to:

Kendra Lewellyn, Shana Hutchins, Bruce Hyman,
 Santos Ramirez, the Cyclotron Institute, and the
 Department of Physics at Texas A&M University for their valuable support