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Super Gifted Kids…

Just in case you know a bored stiff super gifted kid…..

The Davidson Academy is a subsidized public school for the nation’s smartest and most motivated students, those who score in the top 99.9th percentile on standardized tests. The school, which allows students to pursue advanced research at the adjacent University of Nevada–Reno, was founded in 2006 by software entrepreneurs Janice and Robert Davidson. Since then, the Davidsons have championed the idea that the most underserved students in the country are those at the top.

This is the story of one of them……

“Tay, it’s time for supper.”
“I think I’m going to have to clean this up first.”
“That’s not the stuff you said would kill us if it broke open, is it?”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “Not instantly.”…..

When Taylor told Winterberg that he wanted to build a fusion reactor, also called a fusor, the notoriously cranky professor erupted: “You’re 13 years old! And you want to play with tens of thousands of electron volts and deadly x-rays?” Such a project would be far too technically challenging and hazardous, Winterberg insisted, even for most doctoral candidates. “First you must master calculus, the language of science,” he boomed. “After that,” Tiffany said, “we didn’t think it would go anywhere. Kenneth and I were a bit relieved.”

But Taylor still hadn’t learned the word “can’t.” In the fall, when he began at Davidson, he found the two advocates he needed, one in the office right next door to Winterberg’s. “He had a depth of understanding I’d never seen in someone that young,” says atomic physicist Ronald Phaneuf. “But he was telling me he wanted to build the reactor in his garage, and I’m thinking, ‘Oh my lord, we can’t let him do that.’ But maybe we can help him try to do it here.”

Phaneuf invited Taylor to sit in on his upper-division nuclear physics class and introduced him to technician Bill Brinsmead. Brinsmead, a Burning Man devotee who often rides a wheeled replica of the Little Boy bomb through the desert, was at first reluctant to get involved in this 13-year-old’s project. But as he and Phaneuf showed Taylor around the department’s equipment room, Brinsmead recalled his own boyhood, when he was bored and unchallenged and aching to build something really cool and difficult (like a laser, which he eventually did build) but dissuaded by most of the adults who might have helped.

Rummaging through storerooms crowded with a geeky abundance of electron microscopes and instrumentation modules, they came across a high-vacuum chamber made of thick-walled stainless steel, capable of withstanding extreme heat and negative pressure. “Think I could use that for my fusor?” Taylor asked Brinsmead. “I can’t think of a more worthy cause,” Brinsmead said.

* * *


AND, by the way, that sounds like a Brussard Polywell fusor, which you can find info on here:



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