The Taylor Wilson Story

Taylor Wilson, Reno Nevada

CBS Video, Scott Pelley and Taylor Wilson 2012
On the Road: Teen is the Mozart of physics

CBS News March 30, 2012

Teenage physics wonder turns to nuclear safety

Seventeen-year-old Taylor Wilson is like most high school boys. He can only think about one thing. But, the one thing that he’s obsessed about isn’t what you think it is: It’s radioactive rocks.

“When I hold something that’s radioactive, it’s kind of an indescribable feeling. It’s kind of like when I’m with my girlfriend,” he told CBS News.

It may sound scary for a teenager to be handling radiation, but the levels are safe. There’s never been any reason for concern, until he decided to build his own reactor. CBS news correspondent Steve Hartman visited him at the site — Taylor’s own home.

The teenager explained that he was trying to produce nuclear fission — because he thought he could. “There’s nothing that’s impossible to me. You can ask my parents,” he said.

Taylor’s dad, a Coca-Cola bottler, and his mom, a yoga instructor, said their son started reading about nuclear physics in fifth grade. A year later, he gave an hour-long science fair presentation on the subject. It soared over everyone’s head.

“I have no clue what he was talking about,” Ken Wilson, Taylor’s father, admitted.

Still, they let him try to build a nuclear reactor in their garage.

“It sounds like we’re not good parents,” Ken said. “But, he’s pretty much convinced us he knows what he’s doing.”

Taylor eventually convinced the University of Nevada, Reno physics department that he knew what he was doing as well. They let Taylor move his project into their basement. At the age of 14, Wilson became the youngest person on earth to create fusion. He unlocked the secrets that drive the sun before he could drive.

Taylor is now a senior at the Davidson Academy for Profoundly Gifted Students three years later. He could go to any college he wants, but given the fact that he taught a graduate level nuclear physics class last semester, it might be a moot point.

Instead, he’s considering pursuing his next goal of keeping the world safe. Taylor recently invented a new way to scan shipping containers for nuclear material. His way could prove to be much more sensitive and far less expensive than the technology currently in use.

“Because it’s incredibly cheap, it can be deployed all over the U.S. and all over the world, creating first, second and third lines of defense all over,” he explained.

That’s in addition to the cancer cure he’s working on. And God knows what else.

“I have too many ideas for a lifetime,” he said.

NBC News June 14, 2013

19-year-old hopes to revolutionize nuclear power

How do you raise a genius? At age 11, Taylor Wilson told his parents that he wanted to build a nuclear reactor in the family garage. His parents never guessed he would do it, but three years later Taylor made history as the youngest person ever to build a fusion reactor. Since then he’s continued to amaze everyone around him with inventions like a cheaper way to make medical isotopes to treat cancer, and a better way to detect dirty bombs. Rock Center’s Harry Smith hikes in the mountains of Western Nevada with this boy wonder to learn what makes Taylor Wilson tick.


Fusion reactor

In 2008, Wilson achieved nuclear fusion using an Inertial Electrostatic Confinement device which was a variation of the fusor, invented by Philo T. Farnsworth in 1964. He utilized the flux of neutrons from a deuterium-deuterium fusion reaction to conduct nuclear experiments, as well as studied novel fusion fuels inside the IEC device. In March 2012, Wilson spoke at a TED conference regarding the building of his fusion reactor. Along with the IEC reactors, Wilson has conducted fusion research using Dense Plasma Focus devices he also constructed and developed nuclear diagnostics for basic fusion research.

Ted Talk, 2012

What Taylor built was a Farnsworth Fusor. This is not a net positive gain energy producing fusion reactor.