Do you remember what you did in school at age 13? It is quite unlikely to have been something as amazing as the young Jamie Edwards, who describes himself as an “amateur nuclear scientist”. That’s right, during his spare time, he works on building a nuclear fusion reactor. The young Briton broke the record for the youngest person in history to accomplish this task, surpassing the previous record, an American of 14 years.
The feat of achieving nuclear fusion happened in the young boy school, Penwortham Priory Academy, by colliding two hydrogen atoms to create one atom of helium. This was only possible thanks to the support of his school, which contributed with a budget of $3,350 which was used to buy the necessary equipment for the project.
To get the project off the paper Jamie needed some highly unusual pieces, which you don’t expect to see in everyday school, such as pumps and vacuum chambers, tungsten filaments and an aluminium bat, among others. He also had to undergo a radiation safety course before operating the reactor.
The boy kept a blog during the process, where he lists the steps he follow to build the reactor, and discuss the challenges of it, such as how to avoid leaks in the vacuum chamber. His teachers began to worry when a canister of deuterium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, arrived at school by special delivery.
The moment Jamie does the trick can be seen on the video above, made by the BBC. When asked about the experience, the boy can barely contain his excitement: “I can not believe it,” he says. I’m sure we all believe in it.