Paul Fryer




"I was interested in the possibility of producing a tiny star in a gallery situation and I was looking into a phenomenon called Sonoluminesence which literally means sound-glow but it proved to be too difficult to harness. It seemed a natural step from there to discover from my colleague Colin Dancer that the 'Fusor' , an high vacuum inertial Electrostatic Confinement device was the way forward.

The Star In A Jar is basically a simple fusion reactor in a bell jar. What you see when the machine is fired up is a small sun inside a glass dome in a vacuum almost as empty as outer space.

The work comprises two sets of metal hoops (or grids as we refer to them), one twelve inches in diameter, and the other, the centre grid, approximately one-fifth of this. These are contained within a bell jar which is connected to a high vacuum system. When the air is removed from the jar, and the inner grid is charged to around 8Kv (the outer is earthed) any residual particles of gas are accelerated at close to light speed towards the centre of the inner grid, where they collide and form a superheated plasma ball. This happens because there is nothing to stop them being accelerated, and the vacuum also insulates the heat which quickly builds up due to these collisions. Temperatures of well over 10,000,000 degrees C are easily exceeded; this has been proven by the readiness with which Deuterium will fuse when introduced into a system. like this one.

It is not a thing that we would normally observe from closer than 93,000,000 miles. It is a tiny nuclear furnace held in place by the mysterious forces of electrostatic confinement, a ball of incandescent elemental gas stripped of it's electrons, a living star."