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NUCLEAR AMBITIONS: AMATEUR SCIENTISTS GET A REACTION FROM FUSION

Homemade 'Fusors' Glow,
But Don't Produce Power;
Joining the 'Neutron Club'

(The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 18, 2008) (PDF of original; Link to story on wsj.com)


The story also comes with a video:



By SAM SCHECHNER

PITTSBURGH -- In the garage of his house, Frank Sanns spends nights tinkering with one of his prized possessions: a working nuclear-fusion reactor.

Mr. Sanns, 51 years old, is part of a small subculture of gearheads, amateur physicists and science-fiction fans who are trying to build fusion reactors in their basements, backyards and home laboratories. Mr. Sanns, who owns a banquet hall here, believes he's on track to make fusion a viable power source.

"I'm a dreamer," he says.

Many of these hobbyists call themselves "fusioneers," and have formed a loosely knit community that numbers more than 100 world-wide. Getting into their elite "Neutron Club" requires building a tabletop reactor that successfully fuses hydrogen isotopes and glows like a miniature star. Only 42 have qualified; some have T-shirts that read "Fusion -- been there...done that."

Called fusors and based on ...

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