Boy, 12, said to have created nuclear reaction in playroom lab

By Mattha Busby

An American 14-year-old has reportedly become the youngest known person in the world to create a successful nuclear reaction.

The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium, a hobbyist group, has recognised the achievement by Jackson Oswalt, from Memphis, Tennessee, when he was aged 12 in January 2018.

“For those that haven’t seen my recent posts, it will come as a surprise that I would even consider believing I had achieved fusion,” Oswalt wrote on the Fusor.net forum.

“Over the past month I have made an enormous amount of progress. I now have results that I believe to be worthy.”

The enterprising teenager said he transformed an old playroom in his parents’ house into a nuclear laboratory with $10,000 (£7,700) worth of equipment that uses 50,000 volts of electricity to heat deuterium gas and fuse the nuclei to release energy.

“The start of the process was just learning about what other people had done with their fusion reactors,” Jackson told Fox.

“After that, I assembled a list of parts I needed. I got those parts off eBay primarily and then oftentimes 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.”

His father, Chris Oswalt, who works at a medical equipment company, told USA Today: “I think there is a great disbelief until they actually see it.”

However, scientists are likely to remain sceptical until Oswalt’s workings are subject to verification from an official organisation and are published in an academic journal.

Still, the teenager may now have usurped the previous record holder, Taylor Wilson, who works in nuclear energy research after achieving fusion aged 14.