A schoolboy successfully made a nuclear fusion reactor in his family’s spare room aged just 12.
Jackson Oswalt, from Memphis, now 14, is believed to be the youngest person to build a functioning nuclear fusion reactor.
The machine was built from customised vacuums, pumps and chambers bought on eBay by his parents – costing the family a total of $10,000.
His contraption smashes together atoms with enough force to fuse them into one and this process releases energy trapped inside the atoms.
Information on how to build the machine was found online and on January 19 last year, mere hours before his 13th birthday, nuclear fusion was successful.
The previous record for the youngest successful mastermind behind a nuclear fusion reactor was held by Taylor Wilson, who achieved it aged 14.
He told Fox News: ‘The start of the process was just learning about what other people had done with their fusion reactors.
‘After that, I assembled a list of parts I needed. [I] got those parts off eBay primarily and then often times the parts that I managed to scrounge off of eBay weren’t exactly what I needed.
‘So, I’d have to modify them to be able to do what I needed to do for my project.’
Deuterium gas – an isotope of hydrogen – is heated in a plasma core with 50,000 volts of electricity within a vacuum chamber to force the atoms together.
A similar process, albeit on a far larger scale, is what powers the sun.
This enormous voltage is an energy intensive process which, Jackson admits, takes in more energy than it produces.
The commercial viability of nuclear fusion as a source of electricity remains to be accomplished as all previous attempts are also energy pits.
Jackson says this flaw is ‘why I’m not a billionaire’.
The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium is an online forum for amateur physicists.
Jackson used this platform to seek advice and learn how to create his reactor.
His parents funded the year-long endeavour, which they say took ‘everyday grinding’, but admit to knowing little about the undertaking.
Jackson’s father, Chris, said he allowed his son to work on the project but ensured his safety by having experts speak to Jackson to educate him about the hazards working with radiation and thousands of volts of electricity poses.