​Schoolboy Builds Working Nuclear Fusion Reactor At Home

A schoolboy who managed to successfully build a nuclear fusion reactor at his family home is believed to be the youngest person to do so, having completed the build at the age of 12, just hours before his 13th birthday.

Using old parts he'd bought on eBay, Jackson Oswalt, now 14, took over the spare room with his project - which didn't come cheap, as Jackson's parents spent between $8,000 (£6,150) and $10,000 (£7,700) over the course of the year on the required parts.

Jackson, who hails from Memphis, Tennessee, decided to go ahead with the ambitious build after he realised he didn't want to spend all his time playing games like Fortnite.

Using vacuums, pumps and chambers, he then created a machine that is capable of smashing atoms together with force, which releases fusion energy.

He told Fox News: "The start of the process was just learning about what other people had done with their fusion reactors.

"After that, I assembled a list of parts I needed. [I] got those parts off eBay primarily and then often times the parts that I managed to scrounge off of eBay weren't exactly what I needed.

"So, I'd have to modify them to be able to do what I needed to do for my project."

14-year-old Jackson Oswalt. Credit: Fox
14-year-old Jackson Oswalt. Credit: Fox

Rather than consulting textbooks, Jackson relied mainly on trial and error, as well as an online forum for amateur physicists.

He continued: "After a while, it became pretty simple to realise how it all worked together, but at the start it was definitely figuring out one aspect of it, memorising what that actually meant and then moving on to a different aspect of it.

"Eventually all those pieces of the puzzle came together to make a good project."

Jackson's dad, Chris Oswalt, admitted he had no firm understanding of what it was exactly his son was working on. However, in order to ensure Jackson was working safely, he consulted experts and got them to speak to his son about the potential dangers involved.

"Being a parent of someone that was as driven as he was for 12 months was really impressive to see," he said.

"I mean it was everyday grinding; everyday learning something different; everyday failing and watching him work through all those things."

Richard Hull - a retired electronics engineer with the research consortium and an administrator for its website Fusor.net - verified Jackson's results, and now regards him the youngest in America, and possibly the world, to achieve fusion.

Featured Image Credit: Fox

Jess Hardiman

Jess Hardiman is a journalist who graduated from Manchester University with a BA in Film Studies, English Language and Literature, and has previously worked for Time Out and The Skinny among others.

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