The Guinness Book of World Records has a new face. This is Jackson Oswalt, a teenager middle school student who, hours before his 13th birthday, managed to fuse two deuterium atoms with a home build reactor.
It’s official: Jackson Oswalt is the youngest person in the world to achieve nuclear fusion. His feat has been verified by The Open Source Fusor Research Consortium and confirmed by fusion researcher Richard Hull. This has made him one of the stars of the 2021 edition of the iconic book.
Jackson has explained in the official Guinness video that he came into contact with nuclear fusion less than a year before achieving his feat. He claims to have found very helpful the information shared by self-taught nuclear physicist Taylor Wilson, who so far held the record Oswalt has now set.
The genius achieved his goal not without difficulties. After clarifying that fusion is not the same as fission, since the first involves combining two things (in this case, two deuterium atoms) and the second consists of the division of an atom, Jackson explains that he was the only person who took part in the project.
The boy’s parents weren’t quite sure what he was doing at first. His mother says she checked a lot on Google before allowing the little physicist to continue the project at certain stages. His father, for his part, admits that he did not know enough about the subject. But eventually, they trusted the young man and the reactor was a success.
Because of these and other difficulties, achieving nuclear fusion seemed a distant goal for Oswalt. One of the most difficult moments came when he could not “achieve a vacuum strong enough to ignite the fusion reaction”, but the young man never stopped trying.
“With perseverance, I achieved my goal,” he stresses.
In fact, only this stage of the project took him half a year of work.
The laboratory that Jackson has built at his Memphis, Tennessee home over the years is so complex that he doesn’t even know where to begin to describe it, and as a result, lockdown from the pandemic has been a very productive period for him.
Now the boy is 15 years old and, although he does less experiments, he continues to learn things that interest him and has big plans for the future.