[ RadSafe ] Reactor in the Basement!

james.g.barnes at att.net james.g.barnes at att.net
Tue Nov 21 16:08:25 CST 2006

Actually, this raises two issues I've always wondered about:

1)  "A few x-rays:"  I have always thought that energetic fusion generated intense x- and gamma ray flux.  Is that true?

2)  Similarly, always though fusion resulted in intense neutron emission.  Is that correct?

Jim Barnes

-------------- Original message from cehn at aol.com: -------------- 

> TEEN GOES NUCLEAR: He creates fusion in his Oakland Township home 
> November 19, 2006 
> On the surface, Thiago Olson is like any typical teenager. 
> He's on the cross country and track teams at Stoney Creek High School in 
> Rochester Hills. He's a good-looking, clean-cut 17-year-old with a 3.75 grade 
> point average, and he has his eyes fixed on the next big step: college. But to 
> his friends, Thiago is known as "the mad scientist." 
> In the basement of his parents' Oakland Township home, tucked away in an area 
> most aren't privy to see, Thiago is exhausting his love of physics on a project 
> that has taken him more than two years and 1,000 hours to research and build -- 
> a large, intricate machine that , on a small scale, creates nuclear fusion. 
> Nuclear fusion -- when atoms are combined to create energy -- is "kind of like 
> the holy grail of physics," he said. In fact, on www.fusor.net, the Stoney Creek 
> senior is ranked as the 18th amateur in the world to create nuclear fusion. So, 
> how does he do it? 
> Pointing to the steel chamber where all the magic happens, Thiago said on Friday 
> that this piece of the puzzle serves as a vacuum. The air is sucked out and into 
> a filter. Then, deuterium gas -- a form of hydrogen -- is injected into the 
> vacuum. About 40,000 volts of electricity are charged into the chamber from a 
> piece of equipment taken from an old mammogram machine. As the machine runs, the 
> atoms in the chamber are attracted to the center and soon -- ta da -- nuclear 
> fusion. Thiago said when that happens, a small intense ball of energy forms. 
> He first achieved fusion in September and has been perfecting the machine he 
> built in his parents' garage ever since. 
> This year, Thiago was a semifinalist for the Siemens Foundation's National 
> Research Competition. He plans to enter the Science and Engineering Fair of 
> Metropolitan Detroit, which is in March, in hopes of qualifying to be in the 
> Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in New Mexico in May. 
> To his mom and dad, he's still reminiscent of the 5-year-old who toiled over a 
> kid-friendly chemistry set and, then at age 9, was able to change the battery in 
> his older brother's car. Now, in a small room in the basement, Thiago has set 
> up a science lab -- where bottles marked "potassium hydroxide" and "methanol" 
> sit on shelves and a worn, old book, titled "The Atomic Fingerprint: Neutron 
> Activation Analysis" piled among others in the empty sink. 
> Thiago's mom, Natalice Olson, initially was leery of the project, even though 
> the only real danger from the fusion machine is the high voltage and small 
> amount of X-rays emitted through a glass window in the vacuum chamber -- through 
> which Olson videotapes the fusion in action. But, she wasn't really surprised, 
> since he was always coming up with lofty ideas. "Originally, he wanted to build 
> a hyperbolic chamber," she said, adding that she promptly said no. But, when he 
> came asking about the nuclear fusion machine, she relented. 
> "I think it was pretty brave that he could think that he was capable to do 
> something so amazing," she said. 
> Thiago's dad, Mark Olson, helped with some of the construction and electrical 
> work. To get all of the necessary parts, Thiago scoured the Internet, buying 
> items on eBay and using his age to persuade manufacturers to give him discounts. 
> The design of the model came from his own ideas and some suggestions from other 
> science-lovers he met online. 
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