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19-Year-Old Taylor Wilson Solves the Nuclear Industry

Recent news about the final shutdown of the San Onofre nuclear generating station drives home how at odds the current nuclear industry is with our environment. It will now reportedly take 20 years and $500 million in costs to decommission San Onofre.

When looking at the brief history of nuclear power generation on Earth, there may have been relatively few real disasters compared to the number of reactors in operation. However, the effects of each one of these disasters are still with us and will be for quite some time. Fukushima Daiichi, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have become infamously well-known icons of disasters. There were others not nearly as well publicized: Chalk River, Canada, Chelyabinsk, Russia and the Enrico Fermi Fast Breeder Reactor outside Detroit, Michigan. That last being the subject of a book, We Almost Lost Detroit.

Now from an unexpected front comes a solution to the nuclear industry's problems of massive, dangerous reactors. Taylor Wilson was 14 when he built a nuclear fusion reactor in his parents' garage. Now 19, he returns to the TED stage to present a new take on an old topic: fission.

Wilson, who has won backing to create a company to realize his vision, explains why he's so excited about his innovative design for small modular fission reactors—and why it could be the next big step in solving the global energy crisis.