This is the story of how an American teenager became the youngest person ever to build a working nuclear fusion reactor.
By the age of nine, Taylor Wilson had mastered the science of rocket propulsion. At 11 his grandmother's cancer diagnosis drove him to investigate new ways to produce medical isotopes. And by 14 Wilson had built a 500-million-degree reactor and become the youngest person in history to achieve nuclear fusion. How could someone so young achieve so much, and what can Wilson's story teach parents and teachers about how to support high-achieving kids?
In The Boy Who Played with Fusion, science journalist Tom Clynes narrates Taylor's extraordinary journey - from his Arkansas home, where his parents fully supported his intellectual passions; to a unique Reno, Nevada, public high school just for academic superstars; to the present, when now 19-year-old Wilson is winning international science competitions with devices designed to prevent terrorists from shipping radioactive material into the country. Along the way Clynes reveals how our education system shortchanges gifted students - and what we can do to fix it.
©2015 Tom Clynes (P)2015 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
At the age of fourteen Taylor Wilson built his first working fusion reactor. He and his brother are super intelligent in the upper 1% bracket. Clynes goes into Taylor’s achievements starting at age nine with building his own rockets and fuel. Clynes goes into depth about the public schools Taylor attended in Texarkana to the Davidson Academy for the Gifted at the University of Nevada Reno. He briefly discussed what worked with Taylor did not work with his brother.
His grandmother died of cancer when he was in his teens and Taylor became interested in cancer treatment. Taylor used his reactor to create medical isotopes. He could do this at much less cost than the big cyclotrons or linear accelerator could. He went on to develop a company to produce the isotopes while he was a teenager.
Taylor decided not to attend college as his high school work was at the level of a grad student and he was not interested in a more general education. He already was the recipient of a research grant, so decided to stay with research and development. He was working on developing a small safe fusion reactor unit to produce energy to power cities.
The author discussed the unusual parenting techniques of Taylor’s parents and the need for schools to change their approach to learning. He went on to discuss various learning and teaching techniques to allow all students to achieve more. The book is well written and the science is written in a way everyone can understand it.
That anyone can do the things in this book is amazing. For a teenager to do them requires reexamination of standard views of education. The fact that shop courses are no longer part of standard curriculum needs to be changed.
I love every aspect of this book. I wanted to be this kid when I was young and I kinda want to again after listening.
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