Now this is a school science project

And yesterday he became the youngest person in the world to achieve nuclear fusion from scratch at his Lancashire secondary school, using high energy to smash two hydrogen atoms together to make helium.

‘It is quite an achievement. It’s magnificent really,’ Jamie said afterwards. ‘I can’t quite believe it – even though all my friends think I am mad.’

Well done that man.

And well done the teachers who allowed him to do it of course. For he was creating RADIATION!

26 thoughts on “Now this is a school science project”

  1. I think I had that Chemistry teacher. I remember her inspiring words as if it were yesterday: “Oh Christ. Run”

  2. Well done that Lancastrian lad.
    Rumours that Yorkshire is planning a preemptive strike before he succeeds in weaponising are denied.

  3. He must also have created a timewarp back to when pupils were expected to attempt difficult experiments as part of the education process. Where were H&S? Please tell me his experiment put them on Douglas Adams’ third space ship!

  4. Very good. But a construction of a standard design using off the shelf parts is not quite deserving of the Nobel prize yet.

  5. Quite true. But being able to follow an instruction set at age 13 is rather more than we expect the current education system to provide.

  6. The amazing thing is that a state school even countenanced the project. Mr Gove’s reforms are beginning to bear fruit – or at least one blossom in a cold Spring.

  7. Whenever I read an account of a young American doing a “science project” it almost always turns out that Dad did it. I take it that the role of Dad was played here by “a standard design using off the shelf parts”?

  8. I’d imagine the sniffy references to “a standard design using off the shelf parts” are being given by those never tackled an Ikea wardrobe.

  9. From the school’s Ofsted report, a few months ago:

    “It is not yet an outstanding school because progress and standards in science have not increased enough to enable all students to reach higher standards”

  10. So Much for Subtlety

    I am impressed by the young lad, but you have to object to the Daily Mail’s usual abysmal level of science. For a start it is not a nuclear reactor. It is, presumably, a Farnsworth fusor. You can write away and buy one. But look how the DM totally fails to understand how they work. What forces the nuclei together? An electric charge is wot does it? I suppose. After a fashion.

    The better parallel with what he built is not a reactor, but the initiator for a nuclear bomb. But perhaps that would not make the DM feel any better. And yes, it will produce neutrons and hence radioactive waste. But nothing worth mentioning.

  11. Even better, Ofsted criticised them for not recording sufficiently the progress of “more-able” students, especially in science.

    Not sure whether this tells us that Ofsted are numpties or if this is the headmaster’s way of cocking a snook at them. Probably both.

  12. Bloke in Spain – too true. I tried putting an IKEA wardrobe together for the kids bedroom. I think it was from their Fööked range.

    Hours of cursing, sweating, and inconsolable sobbing later, it stood, vaguely wardrobe-shaped. I was momentarily proud of my handyman prowess. But it soon became clear I had messed up when I tried putting clothes in it and found myself in a magical fantasy land where it’s alwas winter but never Christmas.

    Now the wife’s pissed off at me because we have to keep the radiator cranked up in that room and I had to duct-tape the door to stop the dog from going after Mr Tumnus.

  13. I’ve never had a problem with Ikea furniture, I knocked up one of their kitchen tables last weekend without any problems. I put that down to years of playing with Meccano and Airfix models.

  14. @BIS – I’d imagine the sniffy references to “a standard design using off the shelf parts” are being given by those never tackled an Ikea wardrobe.

    Reminds me of the even older joke:-

    “Life is like an MFI wardrobe, only the very lucky or the very clever get it together first time”.

    I have vivid memories of helping my father plane down the plywood backpiece of an MFI wardrobe to get it to fit in the groove cut in the top of the wardrobe where it was meant to go.

  15. Tim Newman – Nobody likes a clever clogs.

    I probably shouldn’t have spent my formative years stealing fags from my parents and reading Razzle though.

  16. If you knocked up a kitchen table you need psychiatric help. And an entry in the Guinness book of records.

  17. I’m not one to boast…
    (but yes I am)
    We got the boy a combination bed, study desk from IKEA (probably from the totes-fooked range)
    It had 473 parts and twelve different guages of screws and bolts.
    Success!
    A month later the wife suggests moving it to his sister’s bedroom…
    I now know that to dismantle this stuff you have to be very very careful, and if possible to do in exactly the reverse order, having not thrown away the bloody instructions which came with the kit.

  18. Ah! The joys of self assembly furniture (not to forget nuclear devices)
    But, be not disillusioned.
    I am a skilled carpenter of many years practice..
    I have a selection of tools would provide wet dreams to the average home DIY enthusiast.
    I have no more success than you do.

  19. How many people have achieved nuclear fusion from scratch at their Lancashire secondary schools, if he’s the youngest? A half-awake sub-editor would have moved ‘at…school’ to the end of the sentence.

  20. Bloke in Costa Rica

    My school was pretty blasé about letting me handle the Cs137 β source for my A-level physics project. The real trick in projects like this is to get an enthusiastic teacher who will lend the support needed (and lobby for funds; I blew through the per-pupil budget by a factor of about 4×).

  21. In my fresher physics lab I was called on to simulate the Rutherford alpha-scattering experiment using a pea-shooter. The stats worked out quite beautifully. It didn’t even need electricity. Modern children are so spoiled.

    Mind you, fusion – is it better than itching powder, eh?

  22. TimN & BiS
    Yes us clever clogs…
    What I hate about Ikea:
    They provide you with an allen key, supposed to do everything.
    But you will actually need:
    Epoxy glue, hydraulic ram, bolt cutter, torque wrench and a full set of foreign imprecations.
    Encouragement, admiration and a cold beer would be nice as well but seem always in short supply.
    It’s that fucking allen key I hate most.

  23. One abiding memory was of being confronted with a roof window purchased from a UK store.. With the instructions in German.
    After a couple hours, several lengths of sticky tape, most of a pack of chewing gum expended trying to get a very small screw to locate in a very small hole at the bottom of a very deep slot, it was at last assembled. Leaving one small plastic part. It seemed reasonable to presume said part performed a vital function. Said function being less than obvious. Even less obvious after an hour of trying to identify said function.
    If you understand German you’ll understand the part description:
    schraube helfer

  24. So Much for Subtlety

    Richard – “Even better, Ofsted criticised them for not recording sufficiently the progress of “more-able” students, especially in science. Not sure whether this tells us that Ofsted are numpties or if this is the headmaster’s way of cocking a snook at them. Probably both.”

    Think what all the little swats in the better schools are building …..

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