Skip to comments.Michigan Teen Creates Nuclear Fusion
Posted on 11/19/2006 8:43:02 PM PST by Lancey Howard
ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich., Nov. 19 (UPI) -- An ambitious teenager in Rochester Hills, Mich., is ranked as the 18th amateur in the world to create nuclear fusion -- combining atoms to create energy.
The Detroit Free Press reported that 17-year-old Thiago Olson set up a machine in his parents' garage and has been working exhaustively for more than two years. His machine creates nuclear fusion on a small scale.
(Excerpt) Read more at upi.com ...
Its not fusion, he's created a plasma sphere - the same kind of thing you can buy at any kitschy gift shop for about $75 or so. Real fusion implies getting more energy out that what you put in, and there's nothing here within the link that indicates this simple fact.
I can just hear his mom opening the door to the garage,
"Would you stop doing that before you blow up the whole state and didn't I tell you to take out the garbage!"
"You'll put your neighborhood out, kid..."
The real clue that something does not ring true in this story is there is no mention of radiation.
The reaction between two atoms of deuterium is:
D2 + D2 yields He3 + neutron + gamma
What this implies is that for an output as low as one watt, the young man would need a lot of shielding, or he would irradiate himself to death.
It's not all that difficult. The basics were published in the science fact column of Analog, "The World's Simplest Fusion Reactor: And How to Make It Work" by Tom Ligon
Analog Science Fiction & Fact 118 (#12) Dec. 1998
Here is an example in action:
Here's the original article with a little more information:
Check out post #47. The original story has a link to that 'Fusor' site.
Not true. Real fusion means getting atomic nuclei to "fuse", and thereby transmute the original nuclei into a new type. In this case deuterium to helium. It says nothing about the energy balance.
However this style of fusor at least has the potential to generate more energy than it requires. However the devices, while cheap, wouldn't last long.
All of this comic book science blather would be forgivable if there were some discussions of measurement of the products of fusion (alpha and gamma radiation), and some discussion of the efforts taken to shield the researcher.
I guess I'm hopelessly cynical - it would be admirable if the boy has really done this - I just don't believe it yet.
Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't think "charging with electricity" causes fusion. *rolls eyes*
You know, we can laugh it up about this, but in most of our lifetimes, it is fully reasonable to expect that some dumb teenager will be able to harness the power of the atom or nanotechnology all by his lonesome.
I'm no ludditefar from itbut there are certain things about the near future that scare the britches off of me. Powerful technologies are becoming cheaper and easier to access; some dumbass dicking around in his garage could very well kill us all at some point down the road.
For those of you with the time, Robert Bussard recently had a lecture at Google where he explained his progress in his past twelve years of research on electrostatic confinement fusion:
The video is 92 minutes long, and it expands on some reports that have leaked out.
Essentially, he is asking for about $200M in new funding to produce a practical power-generating fusion reactor in less than five years.
Show me Helium3 and a neutron from the thing.
As I teen I was intent on creating fusion also.
Any physicists here? Doesn't seem like that would work.
As someone who knows quite a bit about physics, this isn't very revolutionary:
The FarnsworthHirsch Fusor - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusor
This type of fusion reactor has been in labs for over 40 years.
Dr. Robert Bussard gave a lecture a few days ago claiming to have designed a practical reactor which is a refinement on this design, which could be build in a few years - http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1996321846673788606 ( 92 minute video )
Is this the same gentleman of Bussard Ramscoop fame?