PopSci.com on “The Boy Who Played With Fusion”

FusiongarageI don't particularly care to keep spotlighting Taylor Wilson at the expense of the other outstanding Fusioneers of all ages from all over the world who are experimenting with the fundamental forces of the universe in their basements and garages, but when one of our number garners a mult-page feature on one of the most popular science-related sites on the Internets, even-handed discretion has to take a back seat to running the flag up the pole and saluting.

The article is quite the profile of the Nuclear Prodigy as a Very Young Boy:

At 10, Taylor hung a periodic table of the elements in his room. Within a week he memorized all the atomic numbers, masses and melting points.

Isn't that what we all did when we were 10 years old?

After reading about "The Radioactive Boy Scout," Taylor started to dig in:

Soon Taylor was getting into more esoteric “naughties”—radium quack cures, depleted uranium, radio-luminescent materials—and collecting mysterious machines, such as the mass spectrometer given to him by a former astronaut in Houston. As visions of Chernobyl haunted his parents, Taylor tried to reassure them. “I’m the responsible radioactive boy scout,” he told them. “I know what I’m doing.”

The PopSci article doesn't even mention Fusor.net (what's up with that, anyway?) but I suspect the site was a factor in this encounter:

At that point, only 10 individuals had managed to build working fusion reactors. Taylor contacted one of them, Carl Willis, then a 26-year-old Ph.D. candidate living in Albuquerque, and the two hit it off. But Willis, like the other successful fusioneers, had an advanced degree and access to a high-tech lab and precision equipment. How could a middle-school kid living on the Texas/Arkansas border ever hope to make his own star?

Well, he gets in touch with Carl, and he drills through the vast knowledge base that has accumulated in the forums at Fusor.net, he starts rummaging around for the necessary parts, and he starts building. 

Next thing you know, he's created a star in a jar.  It's easy. 

Well, yeah, if you know what you're doing…

  • Richard Hull

    Taylor is certainly making the rounds in the lore and awards. Bully for him and all like him.
    The story was woven well and the usual literary license taken in full force to weave a tale that the common joe could follow to the limit of their understanding.
    The comments were as interesting as the story and ran the gamut of the frightened and concerned to the ebullient, over flowing admirers of Taylor and his parents. The few scientific types were more cold, but offered some gravity boots that the others either didn’t comment on or chided.
    The one telling part of the actual story was the following…
    Taylor also met with then–Under Secretary of Energy Kristina Johnson, who says the encounter left her “stunned.”
    “I would say someone like him comes along maybe once in a generation,” Johnson says. “He’s not just smart; he’s cool and articulate. I think he may be the most amazing kid I’ve ever met.”
    I would note that she has not been hanging around any special children. There are a number of Taylor Wilsons out there, unrecognized, unsung and held back in a myriad of dumbed down educational venues throughout this overly levened, overly protective, litigious society that is foisting itself off as a modern civilization.
    What could be accomplished if the many roadblocks, passed off as safety nets which limit the curiousity of those gifted youths seeking to work in the physically deep end of the hands-on, scientific pool, were lifted? What if the kids could be allowed to follow their “seemingly” wild dreams, as Taylor’s folks did, rather than repressed as so many others are?
    We see the kids today pressed into an educational bologna of uniform politically correct, dumbed down, eloy (Time Machine). The result is a fully fashioned worker bee community of non-thinkers who are told who the annointed are or should be.
    Only a pitiful few of the nascent Taylor Wilsons are allowed the opportunity to develop and reach their potential.
    Richard Hull

  • http://www.imachinationlabs.com R. Bruce Salinger

    For what it’s worth Richard, I am a 58 year old man who built a couple of lasers from SiAm’s C.L. Stong’s Amateur Scientist column in his youth, and dreamed of doing more.
    I had forgotten many of my dreams until I ran across the PopSci article on Taylor. I was totally blown away by his acievements until I did a little searching and found your site and was able to put everything in perspective. While I have no wish to devalue that which he was able to acomplish, I am in total agreement with your comment concerning the state of our country’s education system. Thank you and all your “fusioneers” for carrying the banner forward for the rest of us.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/skipintro Skip Intro

    If you’re not a cute blonde kid, nobody gives a crap about you! That’s the lesson we learn from Taylor Wilson.
    And now the pro-terrorist organization known as “TED” (which cheers on Hamas when it blows up schoolbuses) has got behind Mr. Wilson. Disgusting.