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Joining the nuclear club: This kid in Detroit

November 21, 2006

I bet this kid in Detroit won the school science fair. 

While other kids in school are thinking of whether they should wear the black tux or a white tux to their prom, Thiago Olson of Rochester Hills, Mich. had another decision on his mind for his parents’ basement.

Hmmmm…..Do I create a hyperbolic chamber?  Or a fusion reactor? 

He decided on the reactor!

From the Detroit Free Press today:

In fact, on, the Stoney Creek senior is ranked as the 18th amateur in the world to create nuclear fusion. So, how does he do it?

Pointing to the steel chamber where all the magic happens, Thiago said on Friday that this piece of the puzzle serves as a vacuum. The air is sucked out and into a filter.

Then, deuterium gas — a form of hydrogen — is injected into the vacuum. About 40,000 volts of electricity are charged into the chamber from a piece of equipment taken from an old mammogram machine. As the machine runs, the atoms in the chamber are attracted to the center and soon — ta da — nuclear fusion.

Thiago said when that happens, a small intense ball of energy forms.

He first achieved fusion in September and has been perfecting the machine he built in his parents’ garage ever since.

This year, Thiago was a semifinalist for the Siemens Foundation’s National Research Competition. He plans to enter the Science and Engineering Fair of Metropolitan Detroit, which is in March, in hopes of qualifying to be in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in New Mexico in May.

Now, if I’m a neighbor, I would be a little leery of having a nuclear reactor in the basement next door, and might invest in a fallout shelter.

But according to the boy’s mom, there really is no threat.

Thiago’s mom, Natalice Olson, initially was leery of the project, even though the only real danger from the fusion machine is the high voltage and small amount of X-rays emitted through a glass window in the vacuum chamber — through which Olson videotapes the fusion in action.

OK, so no giant vegetables from the family garden and no three-eyed fish in the water garden.  Whew!

Blogger’s note: I think the DFP meant to use the word “Hyperbaric” instead of “Hyperbolic” in their story.  Hyperbolic chambers are a fictional device from Dragon Ball Z, while hyperbaric chambers are used to regulate oxygen and pressure in patients.

TEEN GOES NUCLEAR  (Detroit Free Press)


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