LEGO, Quantum Mechanics, and Defining the Kilogram

As Adult Fans of LEGO, we know that our hobby with LEGO bricks has some amazing applications, and we see how the creativity flourishes. I think it’s amazing when LEGO finds some very practical uses in real-world places that help not just creativity, but further science and innovation.

Five researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Standards (NIST) have used LEGO to create a LEGO Watt Balance. The Watt balances at NIST as well as other facilities are being used to help push the “measurement precision to within a few parts per hundred million,” which will hopefully achieve a redefined kilogram by 2018. This is important because as of right now, the kilogram is the only fundamental unit of the International System of Units that’s defined by a physical object, not a universal constant.

Leon S. Chao, Stephan Schlamminger, DB. Newell, J.R. Pratt and Xiang Zhang have recently submitted their paper on their LEGO Watt Balance to the American Journal of Physics. Their creation is helping bring quantum mechanics into the classroom, and will hopefully inspire a new generation.

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