Saturday, March 23, 2013

It Is Nice To Read A Story About a High School Genius From Time to Time

The link to the first story is Here.


The next summer, Taylor invited everyone out to the backyard, where he dramatically held up a pill bottle packed with a mixture of sugar and stump remover (potassium nitrate) that he’d discovered in the garage. He set the bottle down and, with a showman’s flourish, ignited the fuse that poked out of the top. What happened next was not the firecracker’s bang
everyone expected, but a thunderous blast that brought panicked neighbors running from their houses. Looking up, they watched as a small mushroom cloud rose, unsettlingly, over the Wilsons’ yard.

And the last part of the story.

“OK, y’all stand back,” Taylor says. We retreat behind a wall of leaden blocks as he shakes the hair out of his eyes and flips a switch. He turns a knob to bring the voltage up and adds in some gas. “This is exactly how me and Bill did it the first time,” he says. “But now we’ve got it running even better.”
Through a video monitor, I watch the tungsten wires beginning to glow, then brightening to a vivid orange. A blue cloud of plasma appears, rising and hovering, ghostlike, in the center of the reaction chamber. “When the wires disappear,” Phaneuf says, “that’s when you know you have a lethal radiation field.”
I watch the monitor while Taylor concentrates on the controls and gauges, especially the neutron detector they’ve dubbed Snoopy. “I’ve got it up to 25,000 volts now,” Taylor says. “I’m going to out-gas it a little and push it up.”
Willis’s power supply crackles. The reactor is entering “star mode.” Rays of plasma dart between gaps in the now-invisible grid as deuterium atoms, accelerated by the tremendous voltages, begin to collide. Brinsmead keeps his eyes glued to the neutron detector. “We’re getting neutrons,” he shouts. “It’s really jamming!”
Taylor cranks it up to 40,000 volts. “Whoa, look at Snoopy now!” Phaneuf says, grinning. Taylor nudges the power up to 50,000 volts, bringing the temperature of the plasma inside the core to an incomprehensible 580 million degrees—some 40 times as hot as the core of the sun. Brinsmead lets out a whoop as the neutron gauge tops out.
“Snoopy’s pegged!” he yells, doing a little dance. On the video screen, purple sparks fly away from the plasma cloud, illuminating the wonder in the faces of Phaneuf and Brinsmead, who stand in a half-orbit around Taylor. In the glow of the boy’s creation, the men suddenly look years younger.
Taylor keeps his thin fingers on the dial as the atoms collide and fuse and throw off their energy, and the men take a step back, shaking their heads and wearing ear-to-ear grins.
“There it is,” Taylor says, his eyes locked on the machine. “The birth of a star.”

Very cool story, worth the time to read.

What's he up to now.  Designing small nuclear reactors that can be buried underground for safety and security reasons.  Story Here
He's wrong in this story that we don't need nuclear weapons anymore but he's only 18.  Let him see the real world for a little while.


1 comment :