Like most Brooklynites, web developer (for Gucci!) Mark Suppes has a hobby and a craft project to occupy his free time. Only, his hobby is physics. And his "craft project" is a working nuclear reactor, that he built himself.
Brooklyn! The only borough where a guy, employed in both web development and fashion, might bike to an office to work on a project funded in part by internet donors. In most cases that project is, like, some kind of stupid bike with humongous wheels, or an old-timey pickle-making set-up, or something. But in Mark Suppes' case, it's a machine that forcibly joins atoms together. Yes, Brooklyn: Home of artisanal nuclear fusion.
Suppes, who looks a lot like Seann William Scott, built his reactor in a "hired workshop" in an unnamed place in Brooklyn—near the Bergen Street F stop in Boerum Hill, if the video accompanying the article is accurate—with about $35,000 of his own money and $4,000 from a money-raising website. "I was inspired because I believed I was looking at a technology that could actually work to solve our energy problems," he says.
Currently, nuclear fusion (different from the process we use in nuclear power plants—nuclear fission, which splits atoms) isn't an efficient process: It takes more energy to achieve than is created as a byproduct. Suppes' reactor isn't any different—but even if it won't solve our energy problems right now, it is pretty cool.
The whole thing is legal and safe, since it has no nuclear materials. It took him about two years to build, and apparently makes him the 38th "independent amateur physicist" in the world to achieve nuclear fusion. He purchased the parts on eBay. I hope they were locally-sourced.