Originally Published:Wednesday, June 23rd 2010, 3:53 PM Updated: Wednesday, June 23rd 2010, 3:53 PM
By day, he's a freelance computer programmer, building a Web site for fashion giant Gucci.
At night, he bikes to a nondescript Brooklyn warehouse, where he says he's building something with a bit more oomph - a homemade nuclear fusion reactor.
Meet Mark Suppes, an amateur scientist from Bedford-Stuyvesant who believes he can help save the world.
"I was inspired because I believed I was looking at a technology that could actually work to solve our energy problems," Suppes, 32, told the BBC.
Suppes says he has developed a working fusion reactor, a device that combines atoms to create energy.
Some see nuclear fusion as the holy grail of energy, a clean, cheap power source that doesn't rely on radioactive material.
Suppes' science project is legal and not considered dangerous - but people who live near the Bedford-Stuyvesant warehouse on Park Ave. where Suppes performs experiments aren't convinced.
"What if something goes wrong? There's a gas station two blocks away," said Geanine Robinson, 35, who lives in the Marcy Houses across the street from the warehouse.
Suppes began constructing his reactor two years ago, using $35,000 worth of parts he got on eBay.
He bought an additional $4,000 worth of parts with money he raised from investors and hopes to create a more sophisticated reactor.
The goal is to build a device that could produce more energy than it takes to power it - a conundrum that has hampered scientists for some 50 years.
"The attractiveness of the fusion reaction is you don't produce large quantities of radioactive materials," said Charles Sparrow, professor emeritus of chemical engineering at Mississippi State University. "But to have enough of these reactions to produce energy that's significant is what we've been working on for a long time."