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13-year-old is youngest to build a nuclear reactor: Best science project ever?

A 13-year-old boy from the UK has just become the youngest person to build a fully functioning nuclear reactor. The teen’s science venture is absolutely putting the rest of our kid’s projects – the exploding volcanoes, orbiting planets and the other typical offerings – into complete ignominy.
Teen scientist Jamie Edwards and his way cool science project.

According to UPI on Thursday, his fusion reactor was completed on Tuesday and tested the following day. In a controlled environment at school before an audience of experts, Jamie flipped the switch and created fusion.

How did it all start?

“One day,” Jamie recalls, “I was looking on the Internet for radiation or other aspects of nuclear energy.” (As we all do when Internet surfing, just after we watch a video of a cat farting and before we Google what the Kardashians had for brunch today.)

Jamie came across the Wikipedia page of Taylor Wilson, who in 2008, at age 14, became the youngest person to produce nuclear fusion.

“I looked at it,” Jamie says, “and I thought 'that looks cool' and decided to have a go.”

The Priory Academy student from Lancashire loves challenging himself with science, so much so that he used to try to steal his older brother’s science homework – so that he could do it himself.

The Lancashire Evening Post calls Jamie a delightful “young boffin,” and tells the story of how the young “fusioneer’s” project came about:

Trying to raise the funds wasn’t easy. Jamie said: “I went to various nuclear laboratories and universities and they didn’t seem to take me seriously.”

So, he went to his head teacher Jim Hourigan in October.

Jamie added: “I had to give a presentation and talk to him about safety, the benefits and what could go right or wrong. I needed £2,000 ($3,400) and he said he would fund it and also put £1,000 into a contingency fund so that myself and others could continue my work as I would like to make it energy efficient.”

Mr. Hourigan added: “I was a bit stunned and I have to say a little nervous when Jamie suggested this but he reassured me he wouldn’t blow the school up.”

Jamie also kept a blog tracking his progress. Eventually, his research and efforts paid off: Edwards smashed two atoms of hydrogen together, creating helium. Nuclear fusion.

Jamie calls it a “star in a jar,” and essentially, that’s what it is. Solar gas clouds made of mostly hydrogen molecules are pulled together and packed so densely, that nuclear fusion will begin to occur in the core of a forming star. This process will continue; once all of the energy is used up, the star dies.

“Basically I made a star in a jar,” the teen said. “It’s amazing really, quite a feat, to be the youngest person in the world to do this… All my friends think I am mad.”

Jamie’s record-breaking endeavor came just in time – he turns 14 on Sunday.

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