Fusion in the Northwest

Here’s a great example of what one motivated individual can do to inspire the next generation of Fusioneers.

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Carl Greninger

Carl Greninger is an IT executive at Microsoft who became frustrated a few years ago with the limitations placed on science education in the public schools in his home town of Federal Way, WA.

It started with a guy named Carl Greninger, and his realization that tight budgets and fear of lawsuits have pushed out much of the fun, dangerous stuff from high school science labs, leaving “nothing sharper than silly putty.

“I walked into a classroom and I saw a science teacher. And he had a string and a paper cup. And he says, well, we’re studying physics, and I looked back at the kids and I saw the word ‘lame’ tattooed across their foreheads. And I said, I can do better than this in my garage,” he says.

And so despite the fact that he had no “nuclear physics” or engineering in his background, Carl went about the not entirely difficult project of building a fusor in his basement and garage.
Now comes this recent, detailed account of the inspiring work that Carl is doing, sharing his laboratory with students from all over his part of the country and getting them excited about the possibilities of fusion research and advanced science and physics in general:

As I have reflected on this experience, I think the fusion reactor was pretty awesome, but it was the students and what they were doing that was truly amazing.

Carl …had a vision of a private science club to teach students “real science.” He turned his vision into a Friday night program that attracts the brightest minds in the region. Adult volunteers, who are experts in biology, electrical engineering and software engineering also attend the Friday night meetings.

So yeah, fusion is definitely cool, but not nearly as cool as the knowledge and skill sets reaching for fusion can instill in its pursuers.

What Carl’s efforts demonstrate is that as our technology advances, there is a concurrent need for new and innovative educational concepts and processes.  It’s gratifying to think that offering the body of knowledge that has been compiled here at Fusor.net has had some small hand in instigating such an effort.

High school senior Raymond Maung poors liquid nitrogen into the reactor. Photo by GABRIEL SPITZER / KPLU

High school senior Raymond Maung poors liquid nitrogen into the reactor. Photo by GABRIEL SPITZER / KPLU