Homemade Fusion Reactor

Written by Brett Thomas

March 28, 2007 // 8:40 a.m.

Tags: #fusion #michigan #nuclear #reactor

Modders everywhere appreciate the feeling of a do-it-yourself job well-done. The harder the job, the more impressive the success. So how about a fusion reactor in your basement when you're 17?

I realize this isn't so much computer or tech industry news as much as it is just something incredibly cool, but I think it deserved some mention. A 17-year-old high school senior in the state of Michigan has developed a homemade nuclear fusion reactor in his basement. No joke - he's even shown the "star in a jar" byproduct to prove it.

Thiago Olsen built the machine using parts that he scrounged off of eBay or in his local hardware store. All in all, it's taken him over 1,000 hours of research and design and over two years to build. But in his basement now sits a machine that is capable of fusing two hydrogen atoms together to create a helium nucleus. His goal for the project? To win a science fair. And just to say he did it, of course.

His mother, oddly, is rather calm and almost unsurprised about the wonder of physics sitting in her suburban basement. She's done the usual "He's so bright" routine, but also joked about Thiago's other "lofty ideas," such as building a hyberbolic chamber (she flatly denied that one). Of course, when he asked about the fusion reactor, she finally said yes. Fortunately, the machine poses little danger aside from the extremely high voltage, small amount of X-rays, and the 200 million degree ball of plasma. That's all...

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