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Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 2:49 am
by Frank Sanns
I will have to get a copy of the book as see what it is all about. Tom was a great to meet and have lunch with. He is quite talented to tell a story. I will be curious to see what I have quoted as saying. The one item that came up on Google from the book was a comment that I made about the Marx Generator being the most dangerous thing at HEAS and it probably is. The point was for high voltage. As we all know, if there is ever an accident, it will most likely be from that than from any other cause except maybe an imploding inferior glass vessel used as a chamber. And I am fairly certain, that I have never used the word gonad. No, I am certain that I never have. Still, it must make for good reading with a little embellishment. After all, normal life is rather boring for many.

Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 5:59 am
by Richard Hull
There was plenty of hype, but all within the artistic license of telling a story for effect to the general audience. Everyone involved with Taylor and his efforts here should read the book. According to Th' perfesser it is on Kindle if you dare attempt to read it that way. I gotta' have it in print, personally.

Richard Hull

Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Wed Jul 08, 2015 5:25 pm
by Paul_Schatzkin
Richard, I read about half the book over this past weekend while Ann and I were camping in the woods of North Carolina.

As for Kindle -v- print, I often order both; the Kindle is incredibly convenient to carry, and enabled me to get the book on a moment's notice before leaving for the trip. One upside of the Kindle version is that as I've highlighted certain passages, I can cull all those highlights into a single doc via the Amazon Kindle site. Try doing that with print.

In fact, I often buy THREE versions of a book: the Kindle, the print, and the audio book. I do more "reading" by listening to books in the car than I have time for otherwise.

My first, surface impression of the book is that it makes for a compelling read on a lot of levels. The author does a good job of setup-and-payoff. And his narrative is about much more than just Taylor... which is a probably a good thing, since the other subject matter gives him cover for Taylor's... well, shortcomings.

I hope to have more to say about the book and post a "review" on the front of the fusor site over the weekend/next week. But, then, I tend to hope a lot of things these days...

And, Frank: you've never used the word "gonads" Damn, it takes balls to admit to a thing like that...


Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 2:01 am
by Kotobuki Herdler

I know that this is an old thread, please forgive me. This is the first post that I have made in years, and the first with my changed name. I am Kotobuki Herdler, real name. I did not know about this book until today (May 27, 18). I have just ordered it and will enjoy reading it I am sure. I liked the reviews and commentary from everyone about the book and its subject.

Before I go any further, I do not want to in any way take away from the accomplishments and successes of Tayler. Just building a fusor is and of itself is no small feat. To be as outgoing, and self confidant along with his innate intelligence and motivation is what will make him successful. However, I have some observations of life in general and young people that are also intelligent and "gifted" (I hate that word in this context). Taylor's success as noted by several others can be attributed to two parents with the willingness and financial resources to let him flourish, as well as plain old good fortune. That said, for every Taylor, there are hundreds of kids that could be thought of as being just as "intelligent" and "gifted" as Taylor. However, they do not have the Charisma, looks, financial resources, publicity, parental support, access to mentors, and all the rest. And I am not just talking about nuclear physics or building fusors. Part of Taylor's success in my opinion, is that he was able to build his machine at such a young age, and that is what brought him his first fame. And that was a good foundation for him to build on, which he obviously has done. He has my respect for this.

The flip side of this is as I mentioned, is that there are many kids out there who could be considered "geniuses", but are not because they do not self promote, have never been discovered, don't have the looks to be on the cover of Tigerbeat (if you do not know what TIgerbeat is, consider yourself lucky), are shy and introvert, and or do not have an open and well funded checking account to tap into. They do not have mentors, anyone to encourage them or teachers that have the time to understand the "gifted" student when they have a classroom full of dunces that they have to teach enough to get them to pass state mandated tests.

There is one young man that I have met several years ago, through a mutual friend of his mothers. He is a math genius. I will say that outright. The public fool system where he went to in high school had to their credit a math teacher that was qualified to teach calculus, and the school (surprisingly) let her set up calculus classes just for him, after hours. When he went to university as a freshman, he tested out of calc 1 and 2. Took calc 3 his first semester, aced it and took differential equations his second semester of his freshman year. Most undergrads today have a hard time getting through pre-algebra. This kid wants to go into physics, and I have encouraged him to do so. The on thing that I know is that he will understand the math.

He comes from a single parent family, consisting of him, his mother and a sister. Like most university students, he is broke, going to school on scholarship. (Doing well, I might add...) His mother simply does not have the financial resources that would have been needed for him to build anything like a fusor or such. The two of them would come over to my place so that he could see and use the gear that I had which was a gamma spectroscopy lab. (I have never built a fusor, I know incredibly little about them except that they are complex.) I had three NIM bins full of gear, including a NIM MCA that I bought from Carl, probes of various manufacture and types, a good sized castle, plotters, an alpha spectrograph, and the like.

When he went to university last fall, I gave him all of my NIM gear, bins and a rack to put it in, thinking that he would sell it. To my surprise, he and a friend used the gear to do something that I was not able to do, and that is to set up a working gamma spectrograph using the various modules. So, here is an 4.0 student, math genius, physics major, who has taken cast off NIM gear and a NaI(Ti) probe and made a working spectrograph. For his birthday, I bought him a set of exempt sources. There are no magazine articles about him, no sponsors, no fame, no tigerbeat looks, no huge personality, no famous mentors, no invites to the white house, etc. Anyone who does not know him would assume that he is just one more typical student partying his way through parent funded university. And therein lies the shame. When he graduates, I am certain that he will pursue graduate studies. If he doesn't I will kick his tail end. But he and hundreds of others like him get no recognition. No one considers them "geniuses" unless they know them and of their accomplishments.

This is what bothers me about the Taylor story. Again, I am very happy for him, and wish him all of the success in the world, and expect to hear great things about him in the future. He will have no problem getting that position that he might want, whether corporately or with his own company. He will have no trouble getting capital, or if he chooses to go the philanthropic route, he will have no trouble getting funding. Everyone who counts knows of him, and he will do very well.

However, there are many people out there who should also have the same opportunity, but who do not for the many reasons that I have stated above. My young friend will at least only graduate university broke, but not in huge debt. Most have to build up un-payable debt to go to university today. I am sure that he too will get a good position somewhere, but he will have to sell himself... he has no Popular Science magazine with his story, no Obama to faun over him. I know that the world is not fair, and that is just the way it is. I do not have the answer to this issue. However, there should be a way to celebrate kids that are truly "gifted" but do not have the charisma to command attention. I wish that I had the answer.

Today, due in part to a little windfall that I had, my rad lab now lives in a five drawer roll around tool chest, and consists of a survey meter, various probes, a scaler-counter (both Ludlum), Rainbow MCA, custom MCA, toughbook computer, toughpad tablet, He3 probe and moderator, and other things like cables, camera, signal splitters etc. This setup is much more flexible and much more conducive to teaching. I am working with local high school and community college teachers developing rad curriculum, and tutoring and mentoring students. I do hope to change in a very small way the situation that i describe.

Again, my salute to Taylor Wilson and his accomplishments. But I also salute other young people's innate intelligence and "genius" and hope someday there will be more opportunities for them as well.



Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 2:25 am
by Dan Knapp
Does anyone know what’s become of Taylor? I was very concerned when he got the award that paid him not to go to college. Regardless of how gifted he might be, he should still have gone to college, and to graduate school. There is no way he could make any significant contribution to fusion physics without having completed a Ph.D. Bill Gates made big money with computer software withou completing his degree, but I would challenge anyone to name a contemporary scientist that made a significant contribution without having completed a degree. His parents did a great job supporting his development, but they dropped the ball when they went along with people puffing him up and telling him he didn’t need to go to college.

Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 6:36 am
by Richard Hull
I do not know if Carl keeps up with Taylor or has info from his parents. Carl really did foster Taylor's early efforts in a significant manner. It is important to realize that in the end, Taylor's fusor was an assist in parts and mentoring of the on-campus college physics dept while in the special accelerated high school he was sent to by his parents.

Taylor is no longer the youngest person to do fusion here. I assume everyone here knows this as I have noted this in the fusioneer's listing.

Richard Hull

Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Mon May 28, 2018 2:23 pm
by Kotobuki Herdler
I too hope that he goes to university. Maybe in his case, it was wise not to go right away. Without that mighty PhD. it is impossible to gain the attention of the scientific community... not the pop science community, but the real cats who control the money of science. And today, money is what drives science. All one has to do is remember the sad tale of the superconducting super collider down in Texas. It would have been the world's largest accelerator and more powerful than CERN. The brain drain would have been here in the U.S. rather than France and Switzerland. But we all know what happened. It was shut down (IMHO) by ignorants who did not understand science. And today, our premier synchrotron facility Fermi, is a ghost of what it should be despite their protestations to the contrary.

Do I think that a university education is the ticket to riches and fame? No. I am a prime example. No complaining either, I loved my studies and to this day am a life long learner. (To give my age away, my first computer experience was on an IBM 360 programing FORTRAN watIV with punch cards.) The day I cannot learn something new is the day the undertaker cometh to my house. That said, I agree completely that Taylor needs to eschew the spotlight for a few years, get his butt to university, exercise that potent intellect of his and get at the very least his undergraduate degree. Otherwise, I fear that he will wind up very disappointed with life.



Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:12 am
by Rex Allers
So I was flipping channels tonight and saw a teaser for the current episode of the weekly program "Vice" on HBO. I thought I recognized the interviewer in one segment, so I recorded the show. Title: "Printing Tomorrow and Are We Alone?"

Haven't watched in detail but the second segment is largely about SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence). The interviewer is introduced as, "Nuclear Physicist, Taylor Wilson".

I won't say anything by way of review, just putting the information here since this thread recently has kicked back to life. Never would have expected to see him in this kind of role. Synchronicity?

Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 5:18 pm
by Richard Hull
Found Taylor all over the HBO Vice series. Here is one on you tube.

Bizarre...Plenty of hype, some mis-statements. The fusion discussion, of course, hovers around NIF and ITER, the latest billions and billions spent on the still 10 years off first operation of ITER according to the people actually at ITER. They just know it will work. No power produced from ITER, of course.

Finally, a must see for all here.........

Lots of great advice and introspection but not much on leaping in and getting one's hands dirty via the doing, though his words about getting passionate should ultimately lead to dirty hands. How many passionate people with ideas born of genius die on the vine due to a failure to pursue to the level of the doing. Pushing ideas and concepts is great and very easy as they have no mass, and thus, no momentum. Ideas need mass, (physical embodiment), and the physical application of force in order to gain momentum enough to proceed to a next stage.

Richard Hull

Re: Book about Taylor Wilson is out

Posted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 5:03 am
by Kotobuki Herdler
O.K., now I have a teensy weensy little problem. "Nuclear Physicist"? Really?

My medical doctor went to university, did his undergrad with me, then went to medical school, did an internship, then residency (I think that I got that backwards). After years and years of hard work, study and education, his title is "Doctor". Has been for years, and is such a good doc that he only takes a few new patients a year. I was one of his first patients. To me, he is Mike, but when I see him for his professional services, he is "Doctor".

The veterinarian that I take my kitties and doggies to did the same educational gig, only longer as unlike my physician, who only studied humans, he had to study many animals. He hates to be called "doctor", so, I call him "Doc". He likes that, as he is like an old country doc.

My undergrad mentor was Dr. Y. He did his undergrad, then went to the U.S. Navy that put him right back into university, where he did a Master's then a PhD. After years of study, Naval service and teaching both in the civilian world and the military, his title is "Professor Y, emeritus". I am not sure what his rank was in the Navy, but I can assure you that his students and subordinates called him by his rank.

When I was studying the Japanese language, my teacher's title was "sensei". That is what he wanted to be called, as he did not have his PhD, and did not want to be confused for having a PhD by being called "professor". (The proper way was his family name followed by his title "sensei".

My graduate mentor was Dr. Wei, a Chinese-American citizen, holder of two PhD.s, speaks multiple languages, and is well known in his field. His preferred title is "Professor". He earned that title, and to this day, that is what I call him by, even though I am no longer a student.

When I built my ion source/150Kev Neon ion accelerator, I had some help from several technologists at Fermi. One was a mathematician, that helped me limp through some troublesome differential equations as well as mass energy equations. He was working on his PhD., so when I would call him and ask his receptionist for him, and since all of his classwork was complete and he was writing his dissertation, I called him "Candidate X" (I did not get his permission to use his name publicly.)

Now, my problem. Taylor comes along, charisma, intelligence and all the trappings of fame, and is suddenly a "Nuclear Physicist?" As the great bard would have said, 'therein lies the rub'. Sure, he built a Farnsworth type of fusion machine. With lots of help and donated parts in a university physics lab, with lots of mentorship. Sure, he was only fourteen or something at the time. But he has in no way paid his dues to be called a nuclear physicist! Fame, magazine articles about yourself and Obama fawning over you doth not a Nuclear Physicist make. Just because I cobbled a little Neon ion accelerator slash hazardous X-ray generator in no way makes me an Accelerator Physicist. And if someone called me one, I would correct them. I am NOT an accelerator physicist, even thought I wish I was! If I were an accelerator physicist, I, A. would not have had to have any help with relatively simple differentiation, B. would have been able to calculate the lengths of the acceleration segments myself, C. the reverse electron flow would not have been greater than the Neon ion beam current going on its way to the Faraday cup (that another Fermi technologist machined for me out of graphite). Hell, Jimmy Carter was far more of a Nuclear Physicist than Taylor.

Sorry Taylor, I am not dissing you. I am impressed with your achievements to date, especially at such a young age. But, one will find in life that as unfair as it may seem, that in order to have the honor and respect of a certain title, whether "Doctor", "Doc", "Professor", "Accelerator Physicist", "General", or even "Nuclear Physicist", one has to have paid their dues, get the education, be proficient (and known) in their field which is earned through publications that are peer reviewed in recognized journals. The old saw "publish or perish" is decidedly true in the marble halls of the Academy. And none of any this will happen without the hooding ceremony and PhD honor awarded after writing and defending a very in depth dissertation as your magnum opus. A Popular Science article, TV shows, Obama and a Fusor (or little accelerator) will not earn one that title. Only hard work, education and "paying your dues" will. That is just the way it is.

Now get yourself to University, get your degrees and become a Nuclear Physicist. With your intelligence and charm, you will find it to be richly rewarding if not outright fun. Then, (as unfair as it may seem), you will be listened too by the Academy, the science establishment and the political money cats who have to fund it all. Then, you will truly be a Nuclear Physicist.