The high schooler who created a sun
Seventeen-year-old Taylor Wilson is a rare genius. A February bio in Popular Science says one of Wilson’s favorite pastimes is uranium prospecting for his experiments, in which he grabs his Geiger counter and stalks the desert for locations such as the 1957 impact site where a B-36 accidentally dropped a hydrogen bomb.
His young life has always followed this unusual obsession with nuclear science. At nine years old, he lectured a tour guide and then the director at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center on the finer points of rocket propulsion. By age eleven, he’d constructed a nuclear laboratory in the family garage that hosted an array of radioactive materials. When his parents sent him to an exclusive Nevada school for the gifted, he set his sights on the stars, or at least on creating one. And at age fourteen, Wilson used old scraps along with donated and surplus equipment to become the youngest person in history – and only the 32nd ever – to create a fusor and generate a fusion reaction, the same process that drives our sun and allows life to flourish on our planet.
Though Wilson’s not even old enough to vote, the United States government took notice of these feats and invited him to Washington, DC to review his latest projects. “I would say someone like him comes along maybe once in a generation,” said then-Under Secretary of Energy Kristina Johnson. “He’s not just smart; he’s cool and articulate. I think he may be the most amazing kid I’ve ever met.”
The president who soaked in the rays
President Obama received similar adulation in the run up to his election in 2008. Supporters declared him the most brilliant man ever to hold the office of president while he still held the fabricated “office” of president-elect. Europeans awarded him a Nobel Peace Prize simply for the pacifying glow of his messianic beneficence. Obama achieved his own version of stardom with the airy glee of a stage diver across a mosh pit, over which his adoring legions carried him from drug-loving high schooler to stimulus-loving president. Continue reading