June 11th, 2012
05:09 PM ET

Taylor Wilson, nuclear prodigy

Editor's note: Taylor Wilson was the subject of CNN's "The Next List," airing Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.

By The Next List Staff, CNN

(CNN) -  Taylor Wilson is an applied nuclear physicist. He is also 18.

A recent graduate of Davidson Academy, a school for profoundly gifted kids in Reno, Nevada, Wilson has been captivated by nuclear energy and nuclear power since he was 10 years old..

Among his many achievements:

Wilson became the youngest person to achieve nuclear fusion when he was 14 years old. He began the project in his garage in Arkansas but finished it while a student at Davidson, which is located on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno.

He has built a device that can detect nuclear materials in cargo containers and is currently being field tested.
He entered that project last year in Intel’s premiere science fair and won $50,000.

He also showed his counter-terrorism device off to President Obama at the White House Science Fair this year to great effect.

Wilson's latest achievement is developing a working prototype to make radioactive isotopes in a much smaller, more portable, device.  It could revolutionize how and where cancer treatments are administered.

The teen-ager was inspired to work on medical isotopes by his grandmother, who died of cancer.

He has won a dozen awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) the Super Bowl of science fairs, over the past four years.

Despite offers from the top universities in the country, he’s chosen to take a fellowship offered by Peter Thiel, of PayPal fame. The fellowship pays him $100,000 over the next two years. Wilson plans to start a company to further develop and market his devices.

Taylor Wilson is a prodigy who could do just about anything he wants. His goal is to use his gifts to solve some of the biggest scientific and medical challenges facing mankind.

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Filed under: Education • Environment • Science • Tech • The Next List • Video
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Senara

    dear physicist,

    I am very interest in physics,astrophysics and astronomy. Ilike little of microbiology too. I have a crazy of thinking about "near future + science fiction".I think we all are in one group.SCIENTISTS OF FUTURE WORLD. I congradulate to you and your works,studies and targets etc as a another future astrophysicist. I like to give a direction to you


    SENARA [15YRS]

    November 23, 2014 at 1:13 pm | Reply
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  3. Douglas

    clean and safe nuclear energy

    June 20, 2014 at 10:44 am | Reply
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    December 16, 2013 at 10:37 am | Reply
  6. K. Thomason

    I hope Taylor will work with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on curing cancer with cannabis (marijuana). Since we know it works, we need someone like Taylor to perfect the medicine, to administer to children or the elderly, or anyone actually, who doesn't like the way it makes them feel. I just know, that Cannabis, is a miracle just waiting to happen.

    August 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Reply
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    August 4, 2013 at 9:35 am | Reply
  8. Adam

    "The next Tony Stark!" – highest compliment known to geeks and techs!

    May 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  9. Wally Lind

    Sheldon? It's all so possible from 18. Good luck to him!

    April 27, 2013 at 9:23 am | Reply
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    April 13, 2013 at 3:57 am | Reply
  12. SKA

    is he a boy or girl??

    March 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • Wally Lind

      He is a boy, and he is looking for a girl. And if he could invent cold fusion to get her, he would.

      April 27, 2013 at 9:28 am | Reply
  13. bob dobb

    I wish him the best, but the highest scientific achievers generally didn't show extreme ability at 16 like Taylor has. I'm just saying that I hope he achieves great things, but don't be surprised if it is a late bloomer(like a 28 year old) who actually gets the Nobel that Taylor might be shooting for.

    February 23, 2013 at 7:00 am | Reply
  14. jimicocobop


    Keep moving foward. Shut out the naysayers. I admire your talent.

    February 1, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Reply
  15. jfc1

    Unfortunately this type of resume is far more common in science and R&D than it should be.
    "I achieved nuclear fusion!"

    February 1, 2013 at 9:24 pm | Reply
  16. Higgs Boson

    His grandmother's bosons gave him a hadron.

    January 23, 2013 at 8:11 am | Reply
    • stan

      now he longs for a dark mater:-)

      February 19, 2013 at 1:10 am | Reply
    • Buzz Killington

      Your parity of this spin suggests you must live a half-life.

      February 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Reply
  17. bilsner

    two-words "Serial Shootist" he's the next ar-15 serial shootist for next years batman, he's the "riddliner"..

    January 23, 2013 at 2:55 am | Reply
  18. newengland2

    Intel award should give to those kind of kids. Do not like other Intel's winners. Most of were Asian kids who research topics were help by Adults.

    January 22, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  19. bigger then jesus

    codl fusion IS a reality, after all this kid was able to do it, its just not yet practical on a larger scale as traditional sun-style fusion still requires more energy being pumped in then it pumps out... theres an alternitive though, hybred fusion using Helium-3 (think star wars/mass effect) which is more or less an isotope created by fusion that didnt quite kick off, like unburned fuel. 1 single ton of H3 can power the earth for a day, the problem is that H3 is so rare on earth its completely infeasable, it exists, but runs at about $200,000/oz (damn ozone layer preventing radioactive isotopes from develeoping in large quanities!)..there is however a million tons of it on the moon, a mere 250k miles away, it would take some mining and a robust trans-lunar shuttle system, but thats fairly simple... there is a LOT more h3 on failed suns, i.e. our gas giants, but most of them are too violent to tame, except uranus...uranus has a billion tons of H3 and generates more every day, and the upper atmosphere is stable enough to fly through, we could set up baloon floated mining platforms (think besbin) and h3-fusion\plasma powered shuttles could scoop up the mined H3 every couple weeks

    how politically inconvieniant though.... what president in this economy and this political environment would advocate spending billions on a robust space program whose sole perpose is to provide free, clean, unlimited energy for the world putting millions in the hydrocarbon industry out of work? it would be political suiside, not to mention the american people (i only mention american and not world because despite sending our astronauts to space via russia we would most likely head up any such endevor) would not stand for a plan that sends billions into space while at the same time fireing all the coal miners, power plant operators, ect, even if it meant a glorious future in space....

    without a solid culture change no idea for fusion or any other ground breaking science will get off the ground (literly) ...so this kid ought to stick to medicine, that may actually go forward

    November 17, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Reply
    • bigger then jesus

      lol, ok, i typed this fast, and at work, grammar and spelling police, take it easy now, my points are valid, even if mispelled 😛

      November 17, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Reply
      • jfc1

        valid but not worth the time and energy to type out
        you should have realized this after the first few minutes and a hundred words

        February 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
      • SilentBoy741

        Though it may someday be technologically possible, it will never become feasible, because no one will ever be taken seriously that says,"We'd like to pump a billion tons of helium out of Uranus".

        February 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • MANUEL

      He is very good, but no bigger than Jesus, Never.
      No one will ever be, bigger than Jesus.

      December 1, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Reply
      • pbuotte

        Jesus did NOT write and is reportedly and most likely illiterate...

        December 10, 2012 at 1:55 am |
      • Buzz Killington

        Did you just make a veiled phallic reference?

        February 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • willie

      This kid did not create anything that is capable of doing cold fusion.

      February 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Reply
    • joe

      "free", then who would pay to harvest it?

      May 10, 2013 at 10:22 am | Reply
  20. Robotmonster

    Do not confuse him with Taylor Wilson, girlfriend of Dane Swan.

    November 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Reply
  21. GatorALLin

    ...if you can get working on solving that cold fusion thingy.... then that would be just Great.... Thanks, just call me when that is done so we can get on to some tough ones like clean water, feeding everyone, curing all disease and this dying before you get to 300 or so..... that is all for now (assuming we don't blow each other up, or a supervolcano gets us, or a metorite from space.... or...). Don't wait too long that singularity thing is sure gaining on us quick...

    November 12, 2012 at 1:40 am | Reply
  22. Izoto

    What a badass.

    October 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  23. Cesar

    WOW! is all I can really say, other than my face expressions I was making viewing his videos.. Amazing young man!

    August 20, 2012 at 5:01 am | Reply
  24. Moreh

    This is awesome! I hope Taylor will do well and reach his goal.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  25. Douglas

    Soon we will have clean and safe fusion reactors in our motor-homes.

    June 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm | Reply
    • Buzz Killington

      Why are extraterrestrials so obsessed with motor homes?

      February 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Reply
      • Douglas

        I guess because they are also obsessed with non-polluting energy.

        February 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

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