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Aerial view of hundreds of spectators watching the colorful water balloon explosion at Physics Festival
Don't miss one of the featured attractions of the Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival -- the legendary Texas-sized five-barrel depth charge, set for 3 p.m. on the south side of the Mitchell Physics Building! | Image: Texas A&M Physics & Astronomy

Texas A&M University invites audiences across Texas, the nation and the world to get up-close and personal with science and technology outreach at the 2024 Physics and Engineering Festival, set for Saturday, April 13, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the George P. Mitchell '40 Physics Building on the Texas A&M campus.

As in years past, no fees or tickets are required for the free annual event (view promotional poster online), which will feature hands-on demonstrations, keynote talks and a legendary Texas-sized five-barrel depth charge as well as special events and bonuses.

Activities will begin and end with endowed public lectures by two world-renowned astronomers and feature a host of interactive, immersive opportunities in between. Participants are encouraged to pay close attention to the day’s tentative schedule for the latest updates and information.

The 2024 festival kicks off at 10 a.m. with Texas A&M Distinguished Professor and Regents Professor of Physics and Astronomy Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff, who will present the James G. Potter Lecture, The Greeks, Einstein and Alien Worlds: The Importance of Eclipses, in the Stephen W. Hawking Auditorium within the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy. Suntzeff will explore the science of eclipses — including the upcoming Great Solar Eclipse of 2024, set for April 8 — from their intriguing impact on civilizations and scientists across time to their profound influence on discovering our place in the cosmos.

From 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., festival participants are encouraged to unleash their inner scientists while taking in a bevy of fun experiments and displays illustrating hands-on science and basic technology-related concepts and principles. All exhibits are manned by Texas A&M faculty, staff and students.

In addition to exhibits, the daylong festival will feature three fantastic performances of the Science Circus (11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m.) by physics showman Rhys Thomas, who teaches Newtonian physics through a rare blend of science, comedy and circus arts in a performance often compared to a Pixar movie. All performances will take place in the second-floor primary lecture hall of the Mitchell Physics Building.

At 11:30 a.m., NASA astronaut and Texas A&M engineer Greg Chamitoff will present Human Space Exploration for Everyone, in Hawking Auditorium. Chamitoff, a professor of engineering practice and holder of the William Keeler '49 Professorship at Texas A&M, is director of AeroSpace Technology, Research and Operations (ASTRO) and has more than 25 years of experience with NASA, where he served as a flight engineer and science officer for Space Shuttle Missions STS-124, 126 and 134 and International Space Station (ISS) long duration missions Expedition 17 and 18. His last mission was on the final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2011 during which he performed two spacewalks, including the last one of the Shuttle era that also completed the assembly of the ISS.

Poster promoting the 2024 Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival

Other special events on tap include five performances of the Low-Temperature Physics Extravaganza (10:45 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1 p.m., 1:45 p.m.) as well as the traditional grand finale of the day’s events portion, the popular, larger-than-life five-barrel depth charge featuring 1,000 plastic balls, set for 3 p.m. on the south side the Mitchell Physics Building.

At 3:30 p.m., Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics Associate Professor and L’Oréal-Unesco Women in Science International Rising Talents Prize recipient Dr. Beatriz Villarroel will present the Mitchell Lecture, Vanishing Stars and the Hunt for Extraterrestrial Artifacts, in the Mitchell Physics Building Primary Lecture Hall. In addition to discussing her research into extraterrestrial intelligence and her work with the Vanishing and Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations (VASCO) and ExoProbe projects, Villaroel will posit ideas for how alien technology would be spotted in an astronomer’s work and detail the latest developments in the search for possible alien artifacts in our own solar system.

All events are presented by the Texas A&M Department Physics and Astronomy in partnership with several other campus units, including the Departments of Aerospace EngineeringAtmospheric SciencesBiologyChemistry and Mathematics.

The 2024 festival is sponsored by Halliburton, Marsha L. ’69 and Ralph F. Schilling ’68, Nancy and Robert L. Dunham ’63, Innolight Technology USA Inc., Col. Hal Schade ’67, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy.

For the latest details regarding the 2024 Physics and Engineering Festival, including event directions and parking information, please visit