What's the big deal? So
Taylor Wilson pulled off his first nuclear fusion reaction at
age 14 (officially the youngest person ever to do it), and designed a patent-pending
fissile material detector at age 15? Haven't we all done that,
or something like it, by the time we were old enough to drive? News reports act
like it's some major accomplishment that Taylor has a fully equipped nuclear laboratory
in his home, and has access to the University of Nevada's physics lab space. Just
because the lad has compiled a collection of nuclear material that would make Iran's
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad jealous, you would think he was something special. All Master
Wilson did, beginning at the ripe old age of 11, was purchase (using Christmas and
birthday money) commercially available products that contain various sorts of radioactive
material and then extracted it for the quantities needed to conduct his experiments.
Photos on his website show transuranics, radioluminescence devices like glow-in-the-dark
watch dials, fission products, radioactive vacuum tubes, low grade uranium and thorium
samples, and smoke detectors, to mention a few sources. Heck, we've all had a watch
with a glowing dial. So what if he collects historical artifacts from civil defense
and research institutions? Anybody can get that stuff on eBay. Again,
I think the Department of Homeland Security should pay this kid a call. Oh wait,
they already have. They've given him a grant to develop his breakthrough scheme
for a low-cost detector for use in screening cargo containers, trucks, and other
vessels that could be used to smuggle controlled substances into or around the country.
Raytheon is interested in him as well.
Will somebody please contact Taylor's high school's diversity club or save-the-darter-snail
group and give this misdirected youth something meaningful to do with his life before
it's too late? I mean, come on, think of the other students' self-esteems his activities
There is a really good write-up on Taylor on the
Mental Floss website, where I saw the story.
Interview with Taylor Wilson at
Intel International Science & Engineering Fair
Posted September 1, 2011