13-year-old student builds a working nuclear reactor
Jamie Edwards with his nuclear reactor

13-year-old student builds a working nuclear reactor

6 Mar 2014

A 13-year-old UK student has potentially made his name in history as the youngest person ever to have created a working nuclear reactor after receiving backing from his school.

Jamie Edwards of Penwortham Priory Academy, Lancashire, has potentially beaten the previous record holder, American student Taylor Wilson.

Wilson was 14 when he created nuclear fusion in 2008. He has since gone on to hold a series of TED talks and become one of the brightest young minds with regard to nuclear technology.

Meanwhile, Edwards, who calls himself an ‘amateur nuclear scientist’, is at an earlier stage of development, having originally received funding of stg£2,000 from his school’s head, Jim Hourigan, to develop his reactor.

Edwards’ application has been based on a nuclear fusion process which originally came about in the 1960s known as ‘inertial electrostatic confinement’, which involves sending a high level of voltage through a confined gas, thereby creating tiny pockets hotter than the surface of the sun or, as Edwards calls it, ‘a star in a jar’.

In order to get all the equipment he needed, Edwards went to the internet, where he was able to obtain the parts he required from the UK, the US and Lithuania. He began to work on the project in his spare time.

Having originally been inspired by Wilson’s own work, Edwards found it initially difficult for anyone to take his work seriously and numerous bodies rejected his funding application.

Describing his reaction when Edwards came to him about the project, Hourigan was genuinely worried about it being a dangerous idea.

“I was a bit stunned and I have to say a little nervous when Jamie suggested this but he reassured me he wouldn’t blow the school up.”

Colm Gorey
By Colm Gorey

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic. He joined in January 2014 and covered AI, IoT, science and anything that will get us to Mars quicker. When not trying to get his hands on the latest gaming release, he can be found lost in a sea of Wikipedia articles on obscure historic battles and countries that don't exist any more, or watching classic Simpsons episodes far too many times to count.

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