Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Middle School Science Fair

I remember one of my middle school science fair projects dealt with how well people do on multiplication tables while listening to different types of music. Not all that riveting, I know.

There was no way I was gonna be able to demonstrate nuclear fusion, much less explain what the heck it even is.

For that reason (and probably many others), Jamie Edwards is way smarter than I'll ever be.

He goes to Penwortham Priory Academy in the UK, and was granted $3,350 to work on this project. The school actually gave him money!

Jamie Edwards

It takes quite a few specialty parts to build a reactor. Edwards had to order a vacuum chamber, vacuum pump, tungsten wire, an aluminum rod, and valves, among other supplies. One of the biggest challenges was tracking down and sealing leaks in the vacuum chamber. He also had to attend a radiation safety course before putting the reactor into operation.

Edwards has been keeping a blog during the project's development. He says his teachers started to get worried when a canister of deuterium (also known as heavy hydrogen) showed up via special delivery.

The ultimate goal was to smash together two hydrogen atoms to create helium through nuclear fusion. And Edwards pulled it off. BBC News was on hand to film the experiment's success, to which an excited Edwards said, "I can't believe it!"

Most kids these days seem dumber. No offense. But this kid makes me feel self conscious because I'm twice his age and he's twice as smart as I'll ever be.

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