For the past four years, Brooklyn web designer Mark Suppes has been building a nuclear-fusion reactor in the corner of a friend’s cluttered warehouse — even though he has no background in nuclear physics, has never even studied electrical engineering and has a full-time website job at The New York Times.
Suppes, 34, was inspired by a video made by Robert Bussard, one of fusion’s pioneers, on the technology’s potential to solve the world’s energy problems. “I couldn’t think of a better project to get involved in,” he says.
Suppes’s reactor — which incorporates parts sourced on eBay — is about the size of a filing cabinet and looks like something out of Back to the Future: “The whole thing is really cool, ancient technology,” he says. “Pipes and pumps and tubes. I am using an electron gun from an old cathode-ray tube from the 50s.”