Quinn Norton visits with Mark Suppes, Ruby-on-Rails developer by day and DIY polywell reactor researcher by night:
Suppes has built his first test magrid out of Teflon and copper, though he hasn't run it yet. He's started designing a 3D printable magrid with space for superconducting magnets, which potentially could take less energy to run and get the reaction closer to self-sustaining. He's using a high temperature superconducting magnetic tape, but even high temperature means liquid nitrogen cooled, instead of liquid helium. It has to sit next to plasma.
"It's the McDonalds problem. How do you keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool?" says Suppes "It's going to have to be a multilevel cooling system... Multiple layers of vacuum mirrored insulation."
"It would be hard to believe you could advance on what Dr. Nebel and Dr. Park (of EMC2) are putting into it," says Ligon. But their funding only goes to next year. Suppes doesn't have institutional support, but he also doesn't have institutional constraint. "I expect to be working on this project for the next ten years, and that's what it will take at least. I have a long term commitment to this," says Suppes, "I would rather really go for something amazing. Even if it doesn't work, I'm learning everything I've always wanted to know about physics, and electrical engineering."