- File Size: 17813 KB
- Print Length: 333 pages
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; Reprint edition (June 9, 2015)
- Publication Date: April 1, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00HK3EXY4
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #469,809 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
The Boy Who Played with Fusion: Extreme Science, Extreme Parenting, and How to Make a Star Reprint Edition, Kindle Edition
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Previous ISBN: 978-0-544-08511-4
About the Author
TOM CLYNES writes regularly for National Geographic and Popular Science, where he is a contributing editor. His work has also appeared in Men's Journal, Nature, New York, the Sunday Times Magazine (London), the Washington Post, and many other publications. He is also the author of the book Wild Planet!
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Wilson invited an outside writer to tell his story, rather than relating it himself. But Wilson writes very detailed technical prose on how own website (“sciradioative”). As a teenager, he showed amazing grasp of physics that is beyond most graduate students. You wonder if he is proof of reincarnation.
Wilson also has ideas that would be very mission-critical for Homeland Security, ranging from less expensive detection devices at ports and airports, to providing small underground fission reactors to local utilities so that power becomes more decentralized and less vulnerable to possible terror attacks or even solar storms.
Wilson has benefited from a fellowship by libertarian activist (and, oddly, Trump supporter) Peter Thiel, who pays entrepreneurs to drop out of college and work on their inventions. Wilson also attended the Davidson Academy, in Reno NV, for the profoundly gifted. His family moved from Arkansas.
The book has many color illustrations and is quite professionally written and edited.
Tom Clynes knows his math, science, and engineering, and he did a great job of introducing concepts into the book that would have been tough to explain by a less qualified author.
I loved the conversational nature of the book.
A great book to give a young parent, an engineer, a science teacher. Encouraging young minds like this book describes is a big factor in development of answers and solutions to today's questions.
Top international reviews
He was into nuclear physics from a very early age, and inspired by the death of his grandma, felt he wanted any work he did to be socially useful. He repeatedly describes himself as someone who wants to apply other people's discoveries and his particular interests are in the production of safe energy and medical isotopes.
Taylor is a very extrovert character, full of self-belief, and a risk-taker, causing a lot of his stress for his parents, partly by his ebullience and partly by one or two explosions (I'm not talking psychology here).
Clynes is a conscientious, methodical and very thoughtful science journalist who spent a lot of time with Wilson and his book does three things.
1) He tells Taylor's story, and has clearly spent a lot of time with all members of Taylor's family, with his mentors and educators, of whom there are many, and has also attended science fairs and in any case already knows many in the scientific community in the USA.
2) There is a lot of science in this book, notably fairly detailed accounts of Taylor's innumerable experiments. As a non-scientist I skimmed some of this stuff but it will be of interest to anyone who would like to know how nuclear fission can be created on a tabletop. In case anyone thinks I, or Tom Clynes, or Taylor Wilson are making this up, check out the number of awards this guy has won. He has also done two TED talks. A resume of his career can be found in a Guardian article: search for Tom Clynes.
3) Clynes also mounts a thorough consideration of the education of supergifted children, in particular considering how far it is possible to educate such people within the normal system. Wilson's parents were happy to go the other route where necessary, and the account of how they achieved this and the choices they were faced with is one of the most fascinatomg aspects of the book.
An indispensable book if you are interested in the cutting edge of science or the education of prodigies.
To anyone interested in the education side they might want to check out the work of Douglas Baker, whose conclusions marry well with those of Clynes. He writes from a theosophical perspective and his work on supergifted children can be found in 'The Powers Latent in Man'.
''...it seems unlikely that 1,000 average scientists could have produced the theory of relativity ... no matter how much time they were allocated. Nor could 1,000 average writers have produced Shakespeare's works...".
The book makes it very clear that it's the exceptionally gifted people that produce the real breakthroughs in both the sciences and the arts - and that the countries that don't identify and provide the best opportunities for such gifted people are wasting one of their most valuable resources.
Not only that, he also figured out rocket propulsion, created isotopes for cancer treatment & invented a unique radiation sensor for preventing nuclear proliferation, all in his teens.
What I took away, from the book is, how most of us, in comparison have such low expectations from ourselves. My biggest ambition at that age was only to score high enough marks and then to get into engineering course. Only, if I had known that, that it is perfectly fine to have even more audacious expectations from ourselves, my story would perhaps be different as well. This tale is a living proof of every cliched inspirational 'quote' asking us to reach out for impossible.
The book also tries to assess, the question of nature vs. nurture. Are brilliant kids born or are they created with right parenting? The book mentions approach of Taylor's parents which may have played a part and lessons for readers when its onto them to unleash potential of their kids.
Author also hints briefly at the dark side of achieving fame and success at an early age. Even some one as brilliant and sorted as Taylor Wilson has hard time avoiding arrogance and becoming full of himself. This success also has implications for their tight knit family, which author explores with sensitivity. The question remains, is it necessarily a good thing to encourage miraculously talented kids attain their full potential, or is it better to make them to enjoy their childhood as a 'normal' kid.
The book is well written, inspiring and insightful - I have taken lessons from the book for parenting, for achieving more at work, putting heart & soul into my passions and above all prioritizing my family and friends.
Would be happy to know your views and thoughts as well.