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Spring 2024 Program

In this year's program, learn about new research and exciting developments in ultra-dense matter, black holes, lasers in space, quantum dots, computer simulation, string theory, the periodic table and much more!


New: Registration before the first event necessary for minors



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

18th 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 18th 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!


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

9:30 Check-In
10:00 Lecture, followed by Q&A and/or quizzes/demos


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


Programs and Schedule

2024 Program Listing

Holt January 27th: "Ultra-Dense Matter", Professor Jeremy Holt

Neutron stars are remarkable astrophysical objects so dense they lie at the brink of collapsing into black holes. Matter under these extreme conditions has peculiar characteristics governed by a combination of general relativity and quantum physics. To deduce the composition of their exotic interiors, neutron stars can be observed through their electromagnetic, neutrino, and gravitational wave signals. 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.

Guzman February 3rd: "Lasers in Space: Gravitational Astrophysics and Earth Observations", Professor Felipe Guzman


PapovichFebruary 10th: "Centuries of Gravity: How We Learned to Read Light and Study Black Holes", Professor Krista Smith

For thousands of years, humans have attempted to explain the motion of the objects in the heavens. These motions are governed by gravity, a force with profound effects on the appearance, evolution, and fate of the cosmos. Over the past century, humans have discovered the most dramatic manifestation of gravity in nature black holes, punctures in the fabric of space and time that can reveal secrets about deep physics. I will put our species' investigation of gravity into historical and scientific context, before explaining the modern tools, telescopes, and spacecraft that we use to understand the nature of supermassive black holes and their effect on the evolution of the galaxies in which they live.

XuFebruary 17th: "Simulating Physics on a Computer: from Simple Rules to Complex Phenomena", Professor Shenglong Xu

Starting with the game Angry Birds, I will discuss the general idea of simulating the physical world around us on a computer and demonstrate how extremely complex phenomena can emerge from simple laws. Then, I will talk about the limitations of simulation due to quantum mechanics and how a quantum computer may help. I will conclude by surveying the current status of building a quantum computer.

FoldenFebruary 24th: "The Future of the Periodic Table", Professor Cody Folden

The periodic table is one of our greatest scientific accomplishments. Although we associate it with chemistry, it is also a result of the laws of physics. Prof. Folden will discuss the history of the periodic table, how new elements are added to it, and what it might look like in the future.

Sezgin March 2nd: "What is String Theory?" , Professor Ergin Sezgin

I will describe the basics of string theory and the motivations for it. I will especially elaborate on how the need for extra dimensions arises in string theory and the consequences. The challenging open problems including the issue of experimental evidence, dark energy, dark matter, and the black hole singularity will also be discussed.

SonMarch 9th: "Quantum Dots: Nanostructure generating light and charges, Professor Dong Hee Son

Quantum dots, tiny semiconductor particles smaller than a hair's width, can create light of any color and even generate electricity, revolutionizing various technologies such as television, solar cells, and medicine. We'll explore their discovery, development, and 2023 Nobel Prize-recognized impact on our lives.


Certificates and Prizes

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.


We encourage all participants to register here before attending the first event. For minors, registration and acknowledgment of the liability waiver by a parent or custodian is mandatory due to university rules. Registration and attendance are free. Walk-in attendance is available for adults only

On-Line Registration

Location and Directions

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


Links to other Saturday Morning Physics Programs


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



Thanks to the following individuals and institutions for their generous support:

Paula Barton, Shana Hutchins, and Bruce Hyman.
 The Cyclotron Institute and the
 Department of Physics at Texas A&M University, CENTAUR, and the National Science Foundation


Cyclotron Logophysics and astronony dept logoCENTAUR Logo