While many British teens love the possibilities that the world of science offers, most seem happy with turning flames green or creating Kelly Lebrock. Not 13-year-old Penwortham Priory Academy student Jamie Edwards, though: he decided to build a nuclear fusion reactor.
Jamie Edwards, a 13-year-old pupil from Penwortham, near Preston, has built a nuclear fusion reactor, making him the youngest in the world to do so. Starting in October, he was yesterday able to finally recreate the 'inertial electrostatic confinement’ process, which was originally explored in the late 1950s by scientists in New Mexico. Completing his project yesterday, Edwards was assisted by friend George Barker as well as school staff.
The newly-titled fusioneer ordered parts and equipment from the United Kingdom, the United States and Lithuania; he dedicated lunchtimes, school breaks and after-school hours to the project, making sure he completed the reactor before his 14th birthday on Sunday. Until the reactor is verified by the Open Source Fusor Research Consortium, the record is held by US student Taylor Wilson, who completed his reactor in 2008 when he was 14. When he began applying to universities and laboratories for funding, Edwards’ requests fell on disbelieving ears.
“One day, I was looking on the internet for radiation or other aspects of nuclear energy and I came across Taylor Wilson,” said Edwards. “I looked at it, thought 'that looks cool' and decided to have a go. You see this purple ball of plasma - basically it's like a star in a jar.
“[Universities and laboratories] didn't seem to take me seriously, as it was hard to believe a 13-year-old would do something like this, so I went to my headteacher Mr Hourigan in October. I needed £2, 000, 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.”
“I was a bit stunned,” said Penwortham Priory Academy headteacher Jim Hourigan, “and I have to say a little nervous when Jamie suggested this, but he reassured me he wouldn't blow the school up.”
Manchester University helped in checking the machinery, and the electronics of the operation were tested by R&B Switchgear.
To keep up to date with the feats of scientific superstar Jamie Edwards, visit http://jamiesfusionproject.blogspot.co.uk