Your friendly neighborhood nuclear fusion reactor

When you think nuclear reactor, you think huge, professional labs, millions of dollars, and government oversight. But some amateur scientists are building their own.

Nuclear fusion, say its proponents, could be the alternative energy source that finally gets us off coal and oil. It's not there yet--nuclear fusion reactors still need more energy to run than they produce--but scientists around the world are working on it. And when I say "around the world," I don't mean just multimillion-dollar labs and government research.

BBC has a great piece on DIY nuclear fusion reactors and those who build them. Fusion isn't limited to huge corporations or governments; it's expensive, sure, but amateur scientists can build their own reactors out of pocket. It's legal, too--there are no dangerous byproducts, and this sort of reaction doesn't require the use of dangerous and restricted nuclear materials like uranium or plutonium.

Fusor.net is a community of amateur scientists who are nuclear fusion enthusiasts. There are guides to building your own fusion reactor, and discussion forums for the builders. The guides have worked, too--Mark Suppes, the Brooklyn resident at the center of the BBC story, is the 38th amateur scientist to produce a fusion reaction.

These amateur scientists aren't just playing around. Fusion, they say, has incredible potential, and the solution to the obstacles it faces could come from anywhere. There may be millions of dollars at work in publicly funded labs across the world, but that doesn't mean Suppes won't discover a new advance in his Brooklyn warehouse lab.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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