*Microsoft employee Carl Greninger helped a team of young students build a working nuclear reactor in his garage. He hopes the project can inspire a passion for physics in students around the country.*
REDMOND, Wash. – Sometimes you have to smash a few atoms to excite people about science.
So says Carl Greninger, a program manager in Microsoft IT Operations by day and full-fledged physics fanatic by night. That’s why he decided to help some young students get hands-on experience with something they couldn’t find in their classrooms: a working thermonuclear reactor.
For the past year, a group of local students – some as young as 13 years old – have met at Greninger’s garage every Friday night to build a type of fusion reactor known as a Farnsworth–Hirsch Fusor. Dubbed IEC-9000, their machine has been fusing atoms and producing neutrons since May. It cost about as much as a high-end SUV, weighs 1,400 pounds, and generates temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun. (more…)