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At 12 years old, Memphis boy builds a working nuclear reactor in his family's home

Parents invest $8,000 to $10,000 to turn playroom into lab

Image source: Fox News screenshot

Feel pretty proud of that academic award you got in high school? Well don't. No matter what it was for, it undoubtedly pales in comparison to this.

Jackson Oswalt from Memphis, Tennessee, who is now 14 years old, managed to create a working nuclear fusion reactor when he was only 12.

What's the story?

According to an interview with Jackson and his parents did on Fox News, Jackson spent a year-and-a-half working on his project before he finally succeeded.

"I started searching for things on the internet about nuclear things, because that's what interests me," he said.

Jackson converted his family's playroom into a nuclear laboratory. According to Fox News, his parents invested $8,000 to $10,000 on this project. Which isn't terrible when you consider that Jackson will probably be eligible for at least a few scholarships at really good colleges after this.

He used information from the Open Source Fusor Research Consortium forum, an online forum for amateur physicists, and parts that he mainly bought off of eBay. Some of the parts weren't exactly what he needed so he had to "modify them." His father, who confessed to not fully understanding how the reactor functioned, praised his son's determination.

"Being a parent of someone that was as driven as he was for 12 months was really impressive to see. I mean it was everyday grinding; Everyday learning something different; everyday failing and watching him work through all those things," Chris Oswalt told Fox News.

Eventually, just hours before his 13th birthday, Jackson achieved the reaction he had been hoping for: two deuterium atoms combined. Experts from the Research Consortium verified that the reaction had actually taken place.

"After a while, it became pretty simple to realize how it all worked together, but at the start it was definitely figuring out one aspect of it, memorizing what that actually meant and then moving on to a different aspect of it," Jackson said. "Eventually all those pieces of the puzzle came together to make a good project."

What else?

He may be the youngest person in the world to ever achieve such a reaction, beating out a 14-year-old who had achieved a similar feat in 2008.

Jackson realizes he's lucky that his parents were able to bankroll his high tech hobby.

"I'm working on creating an organization to fund the projects of kids that aren't fortunate enough to have financial support," he said.

One last thing…
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