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Amateur Scientist Has Built A Fusion Reactor In Brooklyn

I thought this was interesting. Drew Griffin talked to entrepreneur and amateur scientist Mark Suppes who is working on trying to make his open source
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I thought this was interesting. Drew Griffin talked to entrepreneur and amateur scientist Mark Suppes who is working on trying to make his open source project on nuclear fusion something that potentially moves our country towards a path of energy independence and off our our dependence on fossil fuels.

Anything that doesn't have us occupying countries in the Middle East for oil and having the disasters we're seeing in the Gulf is alright in my book if it can be proven to be safe. This sounds as promising as anything else I've heard of with alternative energy solutions for the United States. Hopefully more will come of it if it proves viable.

GRIFFIN: The big I. Just before the break, Carol Costello introduced us to Mark Suppes, an amateur scientist who has put together a nuclear reactor at a warehouse in Brooklyn.

He joins us now live from our studios in New York and you know, Mark, first things first. You design web sites for Gucci?

SUPPES: That's correct.

GRIFFIN: So, you know, where do you cross paths with nuclear fusion? I mean, how did you get into this?

SUPPES: I've been an entrepreneur for almost 10 years now and I've done a lot of web start-ups and a lot of technology, and very comfortable looking at a problem and identifying an opportunity.

GRIFFIN: And so you're sitting around, looking at a problem like how can I put together a nuclear reactor in this warehouse and solve the energy crisis?

SUPPES: I would say it was more like I was between start-ups and I saw this video that Bussard gave and I was so inspired and it looked like such a winning solution to the energy problem, a real way for fusion to work.

GRIFFIN: Who --

SUPPES: And become a real energy solution.

GRIFFIN: You looked at a film of this or a video of this by whom?

SUPPES: Doctor Bussard is the man who invented this technology that I'm trying to build now. And Bussard was a famous physicist, and he worked under a Navy contract for years and years.

GRIFFIN: And so you're kind of picking up on his work, where he left off?

SUPPES: That's exactly right. About a month after he introduced his work to the world, with this video, he passed on. And so somebody has to sort of lead the charge, I feel like.

GRIFFIN: I know it's not easy, but it seems like it has been somewhat easy for you. You have picked up the material on eBay, you buy the product, I guess, that you need to make this fusion in some New Jersey -- another New Jersey warehouse, right? And then you get this little glow. Now, does that glow mean anything? Are you actually creating energy that you can use at this time?

SUPPES: The device I've built so far is just first step towards a long journey. That device will never produce break-even fusion, and by that I mean producing more energy than it consumes.

But the device that I'm trying to build, and that we're going to build next, the but the reactor holds that promise, if we can build it at the right size, according to his calculations, it should be a break-even reactor.

GRIFFIN: Do you consider yourself just a guy who's doing this as a hobby? I mentioned Thomas Edison. There are other guys that have started out in garages and warehouses, like Boeing, I mean, are you looking towards that type of future for yourself to become an energy giant, pushing us past fossil fuels?

SUPPES: Absolutely. This is not a hobby for me. This is what I want to do with my life. I see working on this at least for the next 10 years.

GRIFFIN: And where are you going to build - first of all, you have to get the money -- a lot of money, right, how much?

SUPPES: That's right, yes. Well, to start with, I don't need that much money. To start with, we could make do with $100,000 to $1 million. But eventually to build the full-size machine, I'm going to need $200 million and then to commercialize it probably another $200 million.

GRIFFIN: How big is the full size machine? Where do you put it and how do you get permitted for all this stuff?

SUPPES: The full-size machine would be about three meters. The core of it would be three meters in diameter and it would be quite large. It would be about the size of a coal-burning power plant. Where you put it, those are questions to be asked a little further down the road, probably somewhere in New Mexico.

GRIFFIN: Yes and now whenever we talk about nuclear energy, there's nuclear waste, there's radioactive material, correct? There's potential dangers involved. Should your neighbors in Brooklyn be worried about what you're doing?

SUPPES: Well, the first thing that needs to be cleared up is the distinction between fission and fusion. When people hear the word nuclear, they usually think of fission, which is what we have today, the current nuclear reactor technology and nuclear weapons.

That's not what I'm doing. I'm doing fusion. Across the board, fusion is much safer. Specifically the project I'm working on is not dangerous at all outside of the laboratory. It is dangerous inside the laboratory. So for myself and the other researchers, we have to be very careful, mostly because of high-voltage electricity.

GRIFFIN: OK, so if this is such a great idea and we already had a Navy scientist working on this, who dropped the ball? Why did it stop and why do you think others aren't pursuing this equally as passionate as you?

SUPPES: Well, the funny thing is that they didn't drop the ball and they haven't stopped. Bussard's original team has been refunded and they are continuing their research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The problem is that all of the research is secret and behind closed doors. And so what I'm hoping to do is by doing an open source project, bringing this process of discovery to the public and showing the public what it takes to do original science and to kind of move forward. Very exciting I think to show the process of this.

GRIFFIN: Has the group done any kind of reach out to you? Are they interested in what you're coming up with, the group that's already doing this in New Mexico?

SUPPES: They know about my project. I think to the degree that they can reach out to me, they have. But they have restrictions on what they can say and do.

GRIFFIN: All right, Mark Suppes, from New York. Remember the name folks. He may be the guy that gets us out of these fossil fuels. Thanks, Mark. Appreciate it.

GRIFFIN: I know it's not easy, but it seems like it has been somewhat easy for you. You have picked up the material on eBay, you buy the product, I guess, that you need to make this fusion in some New Jersey -- another New Jersey warehouse, right? And then you get this little glow. Now, does that glow mean anything? Are you actually creating energy that you can use at this time?

SUPPES: The device I've built so far is just first step towards a long journey. That device will never produce break-even fusion, and by that I mean producing more energy than it consumes.

But the device that I'm trying to build, and that we're going to build next, the but the reactor holds that promise, if we can build it at the right size, according to his calculations, it should be a break-even reactor.

GRIFFIN: Do you consider yourself just a guy who's doing this as a hobby? I mentioned Thomas Edison. There are other guys that have started out in garages and warehouses, like Boeing, I mean, are you looking towards that type of future for yourself to become an energy giant, pushing us past fossil fuels?

SUPPES: Absolutely. This is not a hobby for me. This is what I want to do with my life. I see working on this at least for the next 10 years.

GRIFFIN: And where are you going to build - first of all, you have to get the money -- a lot of money, right, how much?

SUPPES: That's right, yes. Well, to start with, I don't need that much money. To start with, we could make do with $100,000 to $1 million. But eventually to build the full-size machine, I'm going to need $200 million and then to commercialize it probably another $200 million.

GRIFFIN: How big is the full size machine? Where do you put it and how do you get permitted for all this stuff?

SUPPES: The full-size machine would be about three meters. The core of it would be three meters in diameter and it would be quite large. It would be about the size of a coal-burning power plant. Where you put it, those are questions to be asked a little further down the road, probably somewhere in New Mexico.

GRIFFIN: Yes and now whenever we talk about nuclear energy, there's nuclear waste, there's radioactive material, correct? There's potential dangers involved. Should your neighbors in Brooklyn be worried about what you're doing?

SUPPES: Well, the first thing that needs to be cleared up is the distinction between fission and fusion. When people hear the word nuclear, they usually think of fission, which is what we have today, the current nuclear reactor technology and nuclear weapons.

That's not what I'm doing. I'm doing fusion. Across the board, fusion is much safer. Specifically the project I'm working on is not dangerous at all outside of the laboratory. It is dangerous inside the laboratory. So for myself and the other researchers, we have to be very careful, mostly because of high-voltage electricity.

GRIFFIN: OK, so if this is such a great idea and we already had a Navy scientist working on this, who dropped the ball? Why did it stop and why do you think others aren't pursuing this equally as passionate as you?

SUPPES: Well, the funny thing is that they didn't drop the ball and they haven't stopped. Bussard's original team has been refunded and they are continuing their research in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

The problem is that all of the research is secret and behind closed doors. And so what I'm hoping to do is by doing an open source project, bringing this process of discovery to the public and showing the public what it takes to do original science and to kind of move forward. Very exciting I think to show the process of this.

GRIFFIN: Has the group done any kind of reach out to you? Are they interested in what you're coming up with, the group that's already doing this in New Mexico?

SUPPES: They know about my project. I think to the degree that they can reach out to me, they have. But they have restrictions on what they can say and do.

GRIFFIN: All right, Mark Suppes, from New York. Remember the name folks. He may be the guy that gets us out of these fossil fuels. Thanks, Mark. Appreciate it.

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