Published June 23, 2010
A New York web designer for fashion house Gucci surprised his neighbors by revealing he built a nuclear reactor in a Brooklyn warehouse, the BBC reported Wednesday.
Mark Suppes, a 32-year-old amateur physicist with a passion for sustainable energy, constructed the $40,000 homemade fusion reactor in his spare time.
He is the 38th independent physicist in the word to achieve nuclear fusion from a self-built reactor and forms part of a growing community of "fusioneers." These brainiacs are trying to discover how to produce energy by fusion, a process that currently consumes more energy to run than it creates.
In nuclear fusion, atoms are forcibly joined, releasing energy. It is, say scientists, the holy grail of energy production, being completely clean and cheap. The problem lies in finding a way of making fusion reactors produce more energy than they consume to run, an issue that scientists amateur and professional still haven't overcome.
"I was inspired because I believed I was looking at a technology that could actually work to solve our energy problems, and I believed it was something that I could at least begin to build," Suppes told the BBC.
While it may concern those close to his makeshift lab, fusion reactors are perfectly legal in the U.S. and pose no radioactive threat, as unlike nuclear fission reactions, they do not require uranium or plutonium fuel.