Archives for category: Cool (Kids may like)

Fox News recently ran a story on a young boy who seems to have set up a tabletop fuser. Impressive kid.

Here is a better article:

And there is this:

If deuterium is injected into a 20k- to 50k-volt vacuum, it will ionize and some of it might fuse. If it is fusing, half will result in tritium and a proton, and half will result in helium-3 and a 2.45 MeV neutron. The D-T might fuse to helium with a 14.1 MeV neutron, and the D-He3 can fuse to helium and a proton (but it needs a much higher temperature to matter). Temperatures are near a billion degrees, so too high to imagine. Given a good vacuum, there is nothing to heat except the injected deuterium, and since there is so little of it the extremely high electrical energy input results in extremely high temperature for the very few atoms.

High enough vacuum and high enough electrical energy should make it possible, but I’m skeptical.

Bubble neutron detectors are reported as reliable for a few months after manufacture. and Youtube videos available. The neutron bubble tubes should bubble only for neutrons (and stray cosmic rays), not x-rays or other likely background radiation.

So, again, it should be doable, and fresh bubble neutron detectors should be reliable, but I remain skeptical.

The bottom line for me, putting a few thousand dollars and oodles of hours into generating a few bubbles in a dosimeter which will remain unconvincing to someone who worked in nuclear fission and fusion science, well, it just isn’t impressive as hobbies go. I do suppose there are very many options that would be more time consuming, more expensive, and less rewarding, so to each his own.

What would convince me would be regular checks of the vacuum equipment with a regular Geiger counter. Once it is reading significantly, then I’d believe you were fusing atoms and generating neutrons that activated your steel. But then, all you have to show for it is a high electric bill and the hassles of disposing of low-level radioactive waste.

Putting together a high-vacuum system is nontrivial.

Detecting protons outside the vacuum chamber is impossible because the chamber walls absorb them. X-rays are plentiful because the ionized deuterium smacking the chamber walls causes x-rays. Nothing nuclear required. So, the only evidence of fusion is neutrons. Given there are reliable ways to detect neutrons, proving fusion isn’t terribly hard, but neutrons with megaelectronvolts energy are true nanocanons. Most of the neutrons produced will be absorbed by the vacuum chamber walls, but many will get through, especially through a viewport. MeV neutrons do extensive damage (on a nanoscale) to anything they hit, including you. Working with the fusion device will give the user significant radiation dose. So, knowledge of useful safety precautions is advised.

Back to the kid who prompted my thinking, his setup is impressive. I’ve worked with such vacuum systems, and the challenges are daunting. A turbopump is a difficult and finicky machine. (It is an electric jet engine working opposite as one does on an aircraft; it sucks instead of pushes.) I know what would be involved with the electrical system, but I’ve never worked with that level of voltage. The young man’s accomplishments are significant. I suspect he has a solid radiation-safety knowledge, too. (And his parents probably did their homework, too.) All in all, good stuff.

Will amateur accomplishments in fusion, in combining deuterium into tritium and helium isotopes, lead to breakthroughs in energy production? I can’t imagine how. It might lead to some technically skilled and ambitious people who do other good things. I’ll stay hopeful.


I’m barely old enough to remember any of the early days of Peter, Paul, and Mary, but Mom had the Peter, Paul, and Mommy album, and we played it a lot when I was young.

I pretty much know all the songs on it by heart, and it isn’t uncommon for me to sing out a chorus when events prompt a memory of one or another of the songs.

My kids know “It’s Raining,” “Going To The Zoo,” “Boa Constrictor,” “Mockingbird,” and “Puff (The Magic Dragon)” mostly from me singing. I’ve given them bits of “Make-Believe Town” before, but this morning at breakfast, Elizabeth was putting jam on a biscuit and exclaimed that she almost dropped her book in the jam.

I belted out, “He studies in books, where nobody looks, because they’re all covered with jam,” and the kids all said, “Huh?” Well, I managed to complete the verse, and they understood, but Joseph asked more, and so I pulled up Spotify, found the album, and started it playing.

That was neat! Not only was it quite nice to pull up the old memories and good feelings, but it was gratifying as a daddy to see the kids positive reactions, especially Joseph, the most artistic of us.

He started singing along, even to the ones he’d never heard before. It was almost like the “Marvelous Toy,” passing it along.

Does a daddy’s heart good.

I was also struck by the wisdom in those children’s songs.

I encourage all men to remember the advice of the turtle dove, “Court her night, court her day, never give her time to say, “Oh nay.” (That’s  how you win her, and that is how you keep the love strong!)

As a daddy, this one is particularly significant to me:

Tell me why you’re crying, my son
I know you’re frightened, like everyone
Is it the thunder in the distance you fear?
Will it help if I stay very near?
I am here.

And if you take my hand my son
All will be well when the day is done.
And if you take my hand my son
All will be well when the day is done.
Day is done, Day is done
Day is done, Day is done

Do you ask why I’m sighing, my son?
You shall inherit what mankind has done.
In a world filled with sorrow and woe
If you ask me why this is so, I really don’t know.


Tell me why you’re smiling my son
Is there a secret you can tell everyone?
Do you know more than men that are wise?
Can you see what we all must disguise
Through your loving eyes?


Well, for four days of it any way. The Oklahoma District Royal Rangers runs JLTA (Junior Leadership Training Academy) each summer at Camp Adventure, near Chandler, Oklahoma. Check here: and

I work with the AJTC group, which is the second year of the program (most age 13 to 15). (There is a zero year, ATC, first year is JTC (Junior Training Camp), then AJTC (Advanced JTC), then two options, then they can apply for the elite (fifth year). They work drill and ceremony with sabers, and they are leaders of the other groups. Back to my group, AJTC, they focus on knots and lashing, and they have some leadership tasks. We review knots and lashing. They lash a simple 6′ x 2′ X-braced rectangle, then we build a 1/3-scale model of a 20′-tall tower. Read the rest of this entry »

“in the presence of the ancients”

via Aliens Live! Proof At Last!.

These are cool. We took the kids (and my mom) on a 6,000 mile trek west through Grand Canyon, and on up through areas the girls had been to when little (before the boys), and managed to stop at some petroglyph sites. (Ultimately to the Olympic Peninsula and the rain forests (and Forks, at the height of Twilight popularity), back through Dry Falls and Mt. Rushmore–during the bike rally.) This art makes me think. Was it just graffiti with little point, or was it their literature, even their master works? Perhaps it was utilitarian (maps, diagrams) or just doodling. There is no doubt they were creative! There seems to be no rules, only expression.

The linked web page has some excellent images and lots of good information if you are ever able to make use of it and see for yourself. Still, while it is wondrous and exciting to view and speculate, I think I will never consider ancient art of this sort as any evidence of anything remarkable, especially not aliens. 😉

%d bloggers like this: