Teen builds nuclear fusion reactor in basement
By Iain Thomson, | 22 November 2006 10:48 AEST | General News
An American teenager has built a working nuclear fusion reactor in the
basement of his parents’ home.
Thiago Olson, 17, spent over 1,000 hours and two years getting the
reactor to work, scavenging old equipment, buying components on EBay and
persuading manufacturers to give him large discounts.
The reactor works by sucking the air from a reaction chamber and
injecting in deuterium, a form of hydrogen. A charge of 40,000 volts is then
applied, using equipment from a gutted mammogram scanner, forming a small
ball of plasma.
“Originally, he wanted to build a hyperbolic chamber,” Olson’s mother
Natalice told the Detroit Free Press, adding that she promptly said “no”.
But, when he asked about the nuclear fusion machine, she relented.
“I think it was pretty brave that he could think that he was capable
to do something so amazing,” she said.
The process itself is safe since the reaction ends as the power drops.
It emits very low levels of X-rays which are not at harmful levels.
Olson, who is nicknamed ‘Mad Scientist’ by his friends, intends to
pursue a career in physics research.
“I thought he was going to be a cook, because he liked to mix things,”
said Natalice Olson.
Considering the link from that article to the Fusor.net webpage about Farnsworth style reactors, I’d bet this too is an electrostatic fusion device. (This is same type of device as discussed in the recent article posted to the main-page: Should Google Go Nuclear.)
Nice to know there’s at least some, (albeit amateur) fusion research going on out there.