Monday, November 20, 2006

Maybe the Mainstream Media is simply populated by Morons.

What else can you make of this UPI story, reported with a matter-of-factness that belies the ludicrous nature of the "facts" being reported:

Michigan teen creates nuclear fusion

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich., Nov. 19 (UPI) -- An ambitious teenager in Rochester Hills, Mich., is ranked as the 18th amateur in the world to create nuclear fusion -- combining atoms to create energy.

The Detroit Free Press reported that 17-year-old Thiago Olson set up a machine in his parents' garage and has been working exhaustively for more than two years. His machine creates nuclear fusion on a small scale.

Nuclear fusion is "kind of like the holy grail of physics," Olson told the Free Press.
Olson's machine consists of a vacuum that sucks air out, and then deuterium -- a form of hydrogen -- is injected into the vacuum. He then charges electricity into the vacuum, causing the atoms in the center to be attracted to one another, creating nuclear fusion.

Olson -- who wants to work for the federal government, as his grandfather did -- is an otherwise typical teen, the newspaper said. He is on the track team at Stoney Creek High School and plans to go to college.

Hey, at least he isn't running a meth lab.


Citizen Tom said...

Well, it would be nice to know how Detroit Free Press verified this young man's claim. More often than not, I think all the news media wants to do is fill space. If they get our attention, that is all that matters.

What exactly is Olson claiming? The real trick with a fusion reactor is to build a reactor that produces more energy than it consumes. Does Olson does claim to have done that?

This is no small matter. Getting a fusion reaction going requires lots of energy. For example, it takes an atomic bomb (fission) to set off a hydrogen bomb (fusion).

Once you got a fusion reaction going, presumably you could use the energy this reaction produces to sustain it. Apparently, however, controlling a fusion reaction and the energy it produces is not easy. So far, it appears that nobody has solved that problem.

Anyway, while Olson may or not be credible, we know the Detroit Free Press and UPI are not credible. The press is responsible to do a better job of verifying such claims. Unfortunately, I do not think most reporters know or care enough about science to even know where to start.

Physicsci said...

Olson's reactor is creating neuclear fusion by accelerating D2 and smashing them together (like a particle accelerator) and creating He3.
He is not claiming to be pulling more energy out of the reactor. That has yet to be done anywere.

Interesting research can be done with the neutrons released from the fusion reaction. So labs acrossed the US have similar units.

Charles said...

There's this whole subculture of "Fusors", following a design written up in "analog" magazine by a science fiction writer Tom Ligon.

This is based on work done by Filo Farnsworth, who also did Television stuff.

Like a lot of research, it was supposed to be the answer to real fusion power, but nothing much has come of it, other than trivial little things like generating some neutrons.

You can build these things pretty easily, and I bet you could buy one of these for a couple hundred bucks somewhere.

So the article is technically correct, although in fact the "acheivement" is no big deal, while if it really was what the article IMPLIED, the kid would be probably be dead from neutron damage.