All posts by Lynn Provencio

Yitzhak Maron

Yitzhak Maron

The Stephen and Mary Meadow Professorial Chair of Laser Photochemistry

Location:Edna and K.B. Weissman Building of Physical Sciences Room: 242

Current Research Interests

Plasma physics, atomic physics, plasma spectroscopy, non-equilibrium plasmas, high-energy-density physics, plasmas under pulsed magnetic fields, generation of ion and electron beams, plasma implosions and stagnations, laser-matter interaction, warm dense matter, implications to fusion and space physics.

Diagnostic methods based on fast, high-resolution plasma spectroscopy of spontaneous emission in the visible, U.V., vacuum UV, and x-ray regions, as well as on spectroscopy of laser absorption and laser stimulated emission.

In the Plasma Laboratory we study processes in plasmas subjected to high-energy deposition. We examine the interaction of nonequilibrium plasmas with strong electric and magnetic fields, the propagation of ionization fronts, the production of shock waves, conversion of energy in pulsed-power systems, generation of fast particle beams, generation of magnetic shocks, development of collective fluctuating fields, and plasma-surface interactions.

The diagnostic methods are based on fast, high-resolution plasma spectroscopy of spontaneous emission and absorption in the visible, U.V., vacuum UV, and x-ray regions, as well as on spectroscopy of laser absorption and laser-stimulated emission. Theoretical analysis of the experimental data is based on detailed modeling of atomic-physics processes that govern the atomic/ionic spectral-line broadening, atomic-level splitting under electric and magnetic fields, field ionization, multiple ionizations and time-dependent collisional-radiative calculations and radiation-transport modeling.

Magnetohydrodynamic simulations are used to account for the nonequilibrium kinetic and transport processes in the plasmas.The research in the laboratory is relevant to the understanding of high-energy-density plasmas in various systems and of astrophysical data.

Awards and Honors

2009 APS John Dawson Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research
Citation: “For revolutionary, non-invasive spectroscopic techniques to measure magnetic fields in dense plasmas and for resolving in detail in space and time the implosion phase of the Z pinch.” APS announcement

2007 IEEE Plasma Science and Applications Award
Citation: “For pioneering the application of spectroscopic techniques to the detailed space and time characterization of electric and magnetic fields, charged-particle beams, and plasmas under extreme conditions of high-current, high-voltage, high-fields, and short-duration.” IEEE announcement

IEEE Fellow (2005)
Citation: “For contributions to spectroscopic techniques for diagnosing high-current, high-voltage electric and magnetic properties.”

APS Fellow (1996)
Citation: “For pioneering the employment of novel spectroscopic methods to diagnose the field and plasma properties in pulsed-power systems, including the development of the atomic-physics modeling required for the data analysis.”

Magneto-Inertial Fusion Technologies, Inc. (MIFTI)

Applying fusion technology to the medical and energy fields

MIFTI was founded in 2008 by scientists from the University of California Irvine. For over 25 years, these scientist have researched and refined a method of controlled thermonuclear fusion, based on Staged Z-Pinch. This concept has predicted a net gain of controlled thermonuclear fusion energy that can possibly solve the world’s energy problems. A by-product of this fusion reaction can also be used to generate radioisotpes that are used in nuclear medicine procedures worldwide.

Our Mission

Schematic of Staged Z-pinch

Stable Implosion of Target

(Shadow image of the imploding Staged Z_pinch)

UCI Z-pinch Facility

Humankind’s sustainable existence and future growth is dependent on technological discoveries and advances in new energy sources. Wind, solar, and hydropower are what most people think of as sustainable energy sources. While these technologies will play an important role in providing the energy mankind will need in the future, they will not, in and of themselves, be able to supply all our energy needs. Scientists, worldwide, know that the real and final solution to the energy crisis, now and in the foreseeable future, is fusion-based nuclear power. Scientists also know that the best and most abundant source of clean, sustainable, and inexpensive fuel is an isotope of hydrogen from seawater.

Magneto-Inertial Fusion Technologies, Inc. (MIFTI) is the only company in the world that has researched staged Z-pinch technology, utilizing computational modeling, computer simulations, and laboratory experiments, for over the last twenty years. Only recently have MIFTI’s scientists been able to overcome the instability problems of Z-pinch. This problem was solved, because sophisticated software was made available to the MIFTI scientists at the University of California, Irvine by the U.S. Air Force. Years of experimentation and understanding the science have led MIFTI’s scientists to conclude that the staged Z-pinch fusion approach will change the landscape of electricity production globally by providing a net energy gain from ten to fifty times the energy used to create the process.

MIFTI’s technology will have positive worldwide consequences, not only for energy, but will solve the current crisis of worldwide shortages in nuclear medicine, as staged Z-pinch is very flexible and can be applied to a number of earth’s dilemmas. MIFTI’s goal is simply to provide the people of earth with energy and medicines, at a reasonable and fair price, with no carbon dioxide emissions. MIFTI technology is environmentally friendly – and forever.

MIFTI Management Team

Gerald Simmons, Chief Executive Officer

Gerald Simmons was previously President of MOS International, a high-tech company that develops and markets sophisticated hardware and software, and multi-user/multi-tasking computer systems for commercial and government applications. As President of MOS, Mr. Simmons had full accountability for profit and loss, and performed executive management functions for all facets of the business, including manufacturing, product development, vendor relations, corporate direction, finance, policies and procedures, as well as marketing functions.

Mr. Simmons was an early backer and investor in Dr. Jonas Salk’s (discovered the Polio Vaccine) start-up company, Immune Response; a company founded to find a cure for the HIV virus. Over the years, Mr. Simmons has been instrumental in numerous start-ups, from inception to IPO and/or sale, including Data Pac Systems and Stamps.Com. Other companies Mr. Simmons managed or consulted for are IBM, Inertial Propulsion Systems, Microvalt, U.S.P.S, Velocity, Docexchange, Tritek Technology, Micro General Corp., Sony Corp., and Hewlett Packard. Mr. Simmons was also co-founder and a board director of Tri-Alpha Energy; an R&D company researching fusion-based nuclear power production.

Dr. Hafiz Ur Rahman, President

Dr. Rahman has a solid background in theoretical, experimental and computational plasma physics.  He has consistently published papers in international scientific journals and presented lectures on original scientific work at national and international conferences and workshops. He taught various physics courses in different universities around the world, and is experienced in working both industry and educational institutions. He is skilled in developing and implementing standardized policies and procedures, and is experienced in leading large size business and academic groups.

Dr. Rahman holds an appointment in the department of Physics and astronomy as a project scientist.  He has over three decades of experience in the field of fusion-energy and space physics research. His research spans on all three areas of experiment, theory and computational physics. His particular emphasis on research has been on: dense Z pinches for fusion, laboratory simulation of space plasma structures, and propagation of neutralized plasma beams.

Dr. Rahman previously directed the Space Simulation Laboratory at Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) from 1986-2000. He was the Principal Investigator on various projects funded by NASA, NSF, US Air Force, DOE and NRL. He served as principal investigator on staged Z-pinch research conducted as a joint venture between Universities of California Riverside and Irvine that was funded by US department of Energy.

Dr. Rahman holds B. Sc. From Punjab University and M. Sc., M. Phil from Quaid-i-Azam University Pakistan. In 1983, he earned his Ph.D. in physics from Ruher University Bochum and Quaid-i-Azam University under DAAD scholarship program.  Dr. Rahman has published over 70 papers in archival journals and books. He presently has two patents pending for final approval.

Honors, awards
Deutche Akademische Austaushdienst (DAAD) Pre- Ph.D. Scholarship from 1979-1981, West Germany
Co-Recipient of Non-senate Distinguished Researcher award for 1996-1997 from University of California Riverside.

Dr. Emil Ruskov, Lead Scientist

Emil Ruskov has worked with fusion plasmas for over 20 years. His interest in fusion energy has led him from classical magnetically confined concepts (large aspect ratio tokamaks and spherical tokamaks), to linear Filed-Reversed Configurations (FRC), and recently, to Z-pinches. He has worked on experimental design, modeling and data analysis, developed diagnostics and data acquisition systems, and lead teams of scientists, and domestic and international collaborations.

Early on in his career, he participated in the first and only US magnetically confined fusion experiments using deuterium and tritium fuel. Time magazine announced that those experiments, conducted at the Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR) in Princeton, NJ, were one of the top ten scientific achievements for the year 1995. In addition to TFTR, Dr. Ruskov collaborated on experiments at the DIII-D tokamak, General Atomics, and at the spherical tokamak NSTX, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. Later he worked as a lead scientist at Tri Alpha Energy, a large, privately funded fusion research company focused on the FRC concept. These days he is helping spearhead experimental efforts and data analysis for the Staged Z-pinch fusion concept, undertaken in collaboration with the University of Nevada, Reno and the Center for Energy Research, UC San Diego.

Dr. Ruskov is a UC Irvine PhD Physics and Astronomy graduate, class of 1995, and he continues his affiliation with the university as a research scientist. He has published over 60 papers in leading plasma physics and fusion energy research journals.

Mohammad Arshad, COO & CFO 

Mohammad Arshad has extensive experience leveraging senior executive level networks in the wholesale and retail industries and in high technology. He has been brining new and innovative solutions to the global market place over last 20 years of executive experience with strategic planning, plant operations, and modern production systems. He is capable of managing and running all aspects of new or existing businesses.

Mohammad Arshad holds MBA in International Business from Florida International University. He also holds MBA in Management Information Systems (With Distinction) from Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Rosario Marin, former US Treasurer
Rosario Marin served for 22 years at the local, state, and national levels. In addition, her professional career includes banking, non-profit organizations, and the corporate world. She is a businesswoman, an author, and an internationally recognized public speaker.
She served as Secretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency, from 2006 through March, 2009, where she oversaw 17 state departments including the licensing of 2.4 million Californians in more than 255 different professions, and the procurement of more than nearly $9 billion worth of goods and services.

In 2001, she was appointed by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Ms. Marin served as the 41st Treasurer of the United States, becoming the first immigrant to serve in that position.

Ms. Marin was first elected to the Huntington Park City Council, in 1994, and served through 2001. She has held numerous leadership positions with nonprofit boards. For her contributions, she has been awarded four Honorary Doctorate degrees from CSULA, Whittier College, St. Francis University and Woodbury University. She is the recipient of countless awards and recognitions, including the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Prize, given to her by the Joseph P. Kennedy Foundation at the United Nations in 1995, and the Outstanding American by Choice Award, given to her at the US State Department in 2008.

She resides in Huntington Park with her family.

Gerald Simmons
Honorary UCI Researcher

2600 Walnut Ave
Tustin, CA 92780
ph: (714) 329-3990
Company Web Site

Papers and Presentations

Shock formation in Ne, Ar, Kr, and Xe on deuterium gas puff implosions


Shock waves in a Z-pinch and the formation of high energy density plasma

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science: Special Issue on Z-Pinch Plasmas 2015

The Role of Magnetosonic Shocks in the dynamics and stability of staged Z-pinch

Performance of a Liner-on-Target Injector for Staged Z-Pinch Experiments

Dr. Scott C. Hsu, Los Alamos, NM

Dr. Scott Hsu

Dr. Scott C. Hsu is a plasma and fusion research scientist in the Plasma Physics Group of the Physics Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, NM. He earned a Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences (Program in Plasma Physics) in 2000 from Princeton University, where he made experimental measurements of ion heating due to magnetic reconnection, which is an ubiquitous process in both laboratory fusion and astrophysical plasmas. For this work, he was a co-recipient of the 2002 American Physical Society (APS) Award for Excellence in Plasma Physics Research.

After graduate school, Scott was awarded a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Fusion Energy Postdoctoral Fellowship to pursue research at the California Institute of Technology on an alternative magnetic fusion concept called the spheromak. There, he also became a pioneer in connecting the physics of astrophysical jets to those studied in laboratory plasma experiments.

In 2002, he went to LANL as a Frederick Reines Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow to work on magnetized target fusion (aka magneto-inertial fusion or MIF), which is a higher-density and pulsed alternative fusion approach, and also basic laboratory plasma physics and plasma astrophysics. At LANL, Scott also branched out into research in high-energy-density (HED) physics and inertial confinement fusion (ICF).

Presently, Scott is lead principal investigator for a multi-institutional plasma-jet-driven MIF research project, with primary partner HyperV Technologies Corp., sponsored by the DOE Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) under its ALPHA (Accelerating Low-Cost Plasma Heating and Assembly) program. He also conducts experiments and HED research on the OMEGA laser facility at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester.

Scott is the author or co-author of more than 60 refereed research publications in plasma and fusion science. In 2009, he participated in the DOE Basic Research Needs Workshops for both Magnetic Fusion Energy Science and High Energy Density Laboratory Physics, and in 2016, he was invited to testify on the status of DOE support of innovative fusion energy concept development to the Energy Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Scott was formerly an executive committee member of the APS Topical Group in Plasma Astrophysics, and is presently a member of the Exploratory Plasma Research (EPR) executive committee.

Selected presentations and Congressional testimony of Dr. Scott Hsu

Scott Hsu’s Peer-Reviewed Publications (reverse chronological order)

Japan’s JT-60SA Project

What is JT-60SA?
JT-60SA is a fusion experiment designed to support the operation of ITER and to investigate how best to optimise the operation of fusion power plants that are built after ITER. It is a joint international research and development project involving Japan and Europe, and is to be built in Naka, Japan using infrastructure of the existing JT-60 Upgrade experiment. SA stands for “super, advanced”, since the experiment will have superconducting coils and study advanced modes of plasma operation. Further details of its experimental programme are explained in the JT-60SA Research Plan.

What is fusion?
Fusion is the energy source of the sun and the stars. On earth, fusion research is aimed at demonstrating that this energy source can be used to produce electricity in a safe and environmentally benign way, with abundant fuel resources, to meet the needs of a growing world population.

Read more

One step closer to fusion power

Published on Jan 21, 2016 by MIT

For the first time, researchers show two types of turbulence within plasma that cause significant heat loss. Solving this problem could take the world a step closer to fusion power which has the promise of limitless and relatively clean energy. (Learn more:

Video produced and edited: Melanie Gonick/MIT

Plasma simulations and Alcator C-Mod footage: Nathan Howard/MIT PSFC and J. Candy/General Atomics
Music sampled from “Rewound” by Chris Zabriskie

Dr. Shalom Eliezer, Rehovot, Israel

Tom Tamarkin, President of USCL and Dr. Shalom and Yaffa Eliezer discuss nuclear fusion energy

Dr. Eliezer is a well-known professor and lecturer on fusion science in Europe and Israel. His wife Yaffa is the author of two fiction books published both in English and Hebrew. Dr. Shalom Eliezer is the author of many text books used in graduate level university classes in nuclear physics and plasma sciences, including “Fundamentals of Equations of State“, “High-Pressure Equations of State: Theory and Applications”, “The Interaction of High-Power Lasers with Plasmas” and “Applications of Laser-Plasma Interactions“, as well as his popular book, “The Fourth State of Matter; An Introduction to Plasma Science”.

The videos indexed by icons below were produced with Dr. Shalom and Yaffa, Eliezer at their home in Rehovot, Israel. Part 2 provides a discussion of Dr. Eliezer’s concept of “Energy”, “the Good,” “the Bad,” and “the Ugly.” The project of the Dr. Schroeder book on energy and fusion is discussed. The proposed interactive game series will be based on facts presented in this book based on work done at the Ariel University.

Fundamentals of Equations of StateHigh-Pressure Equations of State: Theory and ApplicationsThe Interaction of High-Power Lasers with PlasmasApplications of Laser-Plasma Interactions

Hosted by Amalia Ishak

The following video is raw footage edited from camera digital files by Tom Tamarkin for continuity. It is provided here for educational purposes only without commercial value. As our project develops and financial conditions allow this raw footage will be “mined” for sound bites and topical excerpts edited into various video productions.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4
Discussing Dr. Neeman’s advocacy of developing fusion energy to the Israeli knesset in 1980

Wendelstein 7-X: The first helium plasma

On 10th December 2015 the first helium plasma was produced in the Wendelstein 7-X fusion device at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics (IPP) in Greifswald. After more than a year of technical preparations and tests, experimental operation has now commenced according to plan.
Wendelstein 7-X, the world’s largest stellarator-type fusion device, will investigate the suitability of this type of device for a power station. The objective of fusion research is to develop a power plant favourable to the climate and environment that derives energy from the fusion of atomic nuclei just as the sun and the stars do.
More information:

Irvin Lindemuth, Ph.D.

Irv LindemuthDr. Irvin Lindemuth is by many measures considered to be the “father” of the Magnetized Target branch of fusion energy research and proposed solutions to commercial power.

Recognizing that the facility cost was a large component of the R&D cost which was the principal impediment to the progress of fusion development at the time, around the mid-1990’s, Drs. Irv Lindemuth, Richard Siemon and Kurt Schoenberg of Los Alamos National Laboratory began to examine the cost of developing various fusion concepts in a fundamental way. The fusion parameter space is spanned by two basic plasma parameters, namely the plasma density and the magnetic field embedded in the plasma, which govern the physics of attaining fusion burn. The tokomak attempts to burn a plasma at a density of 1020 ions per m3 in a magnetic field of several teslas (T), while laser ICF attempts to burn a plasma at a density of 1032 ions per m3. In conventional ICF, no external magnetic field is applied to the target, but laser-plasma interaction can self-generate magnetic fields up to about 100 T. Essentially, these two mainline approaches sit at two extreme isolated spots in the fusion parameter space.

The results of the Lindemuth, et al, analysis were presented in various papers, workshops and conferences, since the mid-1990’s and recently collected and published in their paper of 2009 [3]. The principal results of their analysis are: 

  1. The cost of plasma confinement is proportional to the thermal energy or the fuel mass in the confined plasma, whereas the cost of plasma heating is proportional to the required heating power density. The cost of a breakeven fusion facility is the combined cost of confining the burning plasma at breakeven and the cost of heating the plasma up to ignition.
  2. For magnetically confined plasma, the amount of plasma energy required to produce fusion ignition is approximately inversely proportional to the square root of the plasma density.
  3. For fusion approaches that use compression to heat the plasma, the power density of the compression required is proportional to the fuel density and the velocity of implosion.
  4. The net results of the analysis for the cost of a breakeven fusion facility as a function of the fuel ion density and temperature is shown in Figure 3, which correctly explains the costs of ITER and NIF. ITER corresponds to a point in Figure 3 for a density of 1014 ions per cc and temperature of 104 eV (108 degrees K.) NIF corresponds to a point of 1025 ions per cc and the same temperature.
  5. There appears to be a sweet spot where the burning plasma density is in the range 1019 to 1022 ions per cc. In this sweet spot, the stunning result of their analysis is that fusion approach exists for which breakeven fusion facility might very well cost as low as $51M!  (A typical nuclear fission power plant costs in excess of $5.5 billion 2008 USD.)

Dr. Lindemuth retired in November 2003 after more than 32 years with the University of California, first at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and then at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. At Los Alamos at the time of his retirement, Dr. Lindemuth was a special assistant for Russian collaboration in the Office of the Associate Director for Weapons Physics, the team leader for Magnetohydrodynamics and Pulsed Power in the Plasma Physics Group, and a project leader for Pulsed Power Science, Technology, and International Collaboration in the High Energy Density Hydrodynamics Program. His primary responsibility was to provide technical leadership for a scientific collaboration between Los Alamos and Los Alamos’s Russian counterpart, the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics (VNIIEF) at Sarov (Arzamas-16). Prior to joining Los Alamos in 1978, he was a technical staff member in A-Division at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he was involved in fusion research.

Dr. Lindemuth received his BS degree in electrical engineering in 1965 from Lehigh University, where he was a Hertz Scholar, and his MS and PhD degrees in applied science engineering in 1967 and 1971, respectively, from the University of California, Davis/Livermore, where he was a Hertz Fellow. His thesis research was conducted under the advisorship of Dr. John Killeen, founder of the National Magnetic Fusion Energy Computer Center. One of his graduate school advisors was Edward Teller.

He has been an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico Los Alamos branch, where he has taught engineering and mathematics courses. He spent the 1991-92 academic year as a visiting professor in the Nuclear Engineering Department of Texas A&M University, where he taught undergraduate and graduate courses, helped lay the groundwork for the Department’s expansion into the controlled fusion area, and assisted the Department in forming collaborations with Russian laboratories and educational institutions.

Although he has never participated in the US inertial confinement fusion or magnetic confinement fusion programs, his areas of expertise include thermonuclear fusion and advanced numerical methods for the computer simulation of fusion plasmas and related pulsed power technology. He has published numerous papers in refereed journals and proceedings of major international conferences. He has been involved in a wide range of fusion and high energy density physics programs spanning essentially all of the ten orders of magnitude in density and time space from magnetic fusion energy plasmas to inertial confinement fusion plasmas. An internationally recognized pioneer in the application of implicit, non-split computational methods to magnetohydrodynamics, he has achieved widespread recognition for his large-scale numerical simulations of a variety of fusion and other high-density plasma systems. In addition to his accomplishments in modeling high temperature plasmas, he has formulated a variety of novel pulsed power computer codes that have led to important advances in laboratory programs. His codes have stimulated the development of several types of fast opening switches.

He is a U.S. pioneer in Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) and performed the first comprehensive survey of the parameter space in which MTF was likely to work. Even before the collapse of the Soviet Union, he recognized that the Soviets had developed advanced technology in the areas of ultrahigh magnetic fields and ultrahigh energy electrical pulse generation that significantly exceeded U.S. capabilities and that were motivated by the Soviet MTF program known as MAGO. In January 1992, he became the first American scientist to present a formal scientific seminar at one of the formerly secret, and still closed, Russian nuclear weapons design laboratories. Dr. Lindemuth played an essential role in establishing the collaboration with VNIIEF, a collaboration that has helped integrate Russian weapons scientists into the global scientific community and that has resulted in more than 300 conference papers and archival publications. The LANL/VNIIEF collaboration, and Dr. Lindemuth’s role in it, were featured in the Discovery Channel documentary, Stockpile, which first aired in 2001. In 1992, Dr. Lindemuth was the recipient of a Los Alamos Distinguished Performance Award for his work in the formative stages of the LANL/VNIIEF collaboration.

In 2004, he was named a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). Dr. Lindemuth currently resides in Tucson, Arizona and is a part-time research faculty member of the Physics Department at the University of Nevada, Reno.

1971 – The Alternating-Direction Implicit Numerical Solution of Time-Dependent, Two-Dimensional, Two-Fluid Magnetohydrodynamic Equations



A Tutorial on The Parameter Space of Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF) or Magneto Inertial Fusion Invited tutorial presented at annual meeting of American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics, San Jose, CA, October 31-November 4, 2016

The Ignition Design Space of Magnetized Target Fusion Irvin Lindemuth Ph.D., Dec. 28, 2015

Why Magnetized Target Fusion Offers A Low-Cost Development Path for Fusion Energy, Richard E. Siemon, P h.D., Irvin R. Lindemuth, Ph.D., Kurt F. Schoenberg, Ph.D.

The Case for Magnetized Target Fusion (MTF), Irvin Lindemuth, Ph.D.

The fundamental parameter space of controlled thermonuclear fusion by Irvin R. Lindemuth & Richard Siemon

Irv Lindemuth Ph.D. Review of Plasma Jet Driven Magneto-Inertial Fusion & Letter to Congress on Fusion Funding includes private correspondence between Dr. Lindemuth and Tom Tamarkin as well as a more comprehensive biography on Dr. Lindemuth.

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.

Fusion Rockets for Planetary Defense

Glen Wurden, Ph.D., of Los Alamos National Laboratory in NM gave this presentation on using fusion powered rockets to intercept comets and large asteroids. The talk was at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics, in Greifswald, Germany on Oct. 16, 2015 home of the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X), Stellarator fusion project. Scroll to the bottom for a PDF version and to see the LANL TedTalk video on “Why Did the Dinosaurs Need Fusion Rockets Too?”

Download the slide presentation for this talk

Watch the video