When I first spotted this, I did not realize it was a render. I am a big fan of scientific builds, and this is definitely up my alley. I particularly love the molecule model. The scale is fantastic. The periodic table is instantly recognizable.
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.
While this rendition isn’t going to get the same results as a real particle accelerator, I invite you to take a look at this fantastic LEGO version from Jason(JK Brickworks).
This “working” accelerator does in fact send a LEGO soccer ball around the track at 440 studs per second, or approximately 12.5 km/hr. Jason outlines some of the build in more detail on his blog.
I highly recommend checking out the video, too.
It should come as no surprise at all to long-time readers that the new LEGO Ideas Research Institute has been on my list since the day it was confirmed as a set, if not before. I’m all for more gender-equality in my minifig world, and love seeing sets with female figs.
I picked up this set as well as the 21109 Exo Suit while I was on vacation, and admittedly I’ve been waiting to get a chance to break in and build it. Great way to spend the first day back from vacation, I wager.
So let’s get on with the review.
After over 10 years in flight, the European Space Agency’s Rosetta space probe today arrived at it’s target, comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. And builder Stefan Schindler decided to commemorate the event by recreating it in LEGO! Not only did he do a splendid job on the probe, he even managed to capture the bizarre shape of the comet as well.
Stefan has entered his creation in the ESA’s official #RosettaAreWeThereYet photo contest. So LEGO fans should head over there and VOTE FOR IT NOW! (Entries are piling up so you may have to search for it on the second or third page).
I think we can all agree that LEGO helps nourish the mind in various ways. We know it helps with spacial awareness, eye-hand coordination, creativity, and problem-solving.
ROOK gives us some of the tools needed for some very important mathematical and scientific skills, helpfully constructed in brick:
I have to say, I’m really fond of the protractor. The compass is pretty nifty. If you find yourself more comfortable in a lab coat, he’s got some rather clever test-tubes full of who-knows-what waiting for you.
We’ve been studiously ignoring the rather ridiculous press coverage of a study published last month in the Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Human-Agent Interaction. The study itself is simply a numerical analysis of minifig facial expressions from 1975 to 2010, concluding that facial expressions perceived by adults as “happy” have decreased over time in favor of “angry” faces and other emotions. It’s actually a rather interesting study, if you bother to read it.
But the media frenzy surrounding the study has been silly at best and consistently inaccurate — not necessarily about the trend toward more variety in minifig facial expressions but about the substance and conclusions of the study. One of the more moronic trends among the articles — or at least their headlines, which many people probably don’t read past — is claiming that the study says that the greater diversity in minifigure facial expressions is somehow harmful to children.
Conan O’Brian did a bit last night that is representative of the misunderstanding many people have about the issue. While Conan and his writers put the material to good comedic use, it reminded me that we might still want to post something about the study and the press coverage surrounding it. The story just doesn’t want to die!
Thankfully, not all the coverage is as idiotic as what you’ve probably seen on your local news. Scientific American editorial intern Arielle Duhaime-Ross has written an excellent blog post about the study and its media coverage, with insights into why people have been so attracted to the story.
She quotes one of the New Zealand researches as saying, “Our little LEGO study was never intended to give scientific evidence of the minifigures’ harmful effects — it cannot even give a hint.” Christoph Bartneck continues, “The media fights for our attention and one mechanism they use is to invoke fear.”
It’s this fear-mongering that I find so distasteful (and consistent with the controversy surrounding LEGO Friends). I’m no defender of the LEGO brand or corporation, nor do I always agree with the decisions they make — I’ve been advocating for more ethnic and gender diversity in minifigs for years, in fact — but I do take issue with bad journalism.
Head on over to ScientificAmerican.com to read Arielle’s post, and let us know what you think yourself in the comments.
LEGO certainly has some small elements, and Carl Merriam has really taken that idea to the next level with this fabulous microscope. I’m impressed with the build, and the presentation, and that’s what originally caught my eye. Then I read the description:
“A little more tinkering and I connected the focus to a magnifying glass and fiber optic light in the eyepiece, so adjusting the focus knobs would actually bring the writing on a LEGO stud in and out of focus.”
So in additon to be a beautifully presented, excellent build, it actually works.
Bravo, Carl. Bravo.
Stephen Pakbaz‘s MSL Curiosity Rover project on LEGO CUUSOO hit 10,000 supporters 10 months ago, but today LEGO is announcing that Curiosity will become the next new LEGO set through the CUUSOO program.
(This is Stephen’s project photo. I expect the final product may be slightly different. We’ll share the official product photos when we get them.)
Here’s the official announcement:
Results of the Fall 2012 LEGO® Review
We’re excited to share the results of the Fall LEGO® Review. In September, three LEGO CUUSOO projects entered the second quarterly review period for projects that successfully reach 10,000 supporters. These three projects — the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, UCS Sandcrawler™, and Thinking with Portals!™ — have been being considered for production by the LEGO Review Board.
21104 Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover – pending final name confirmation
It is with great pleasure we reveal that the next LEGO CUUSOO set will be the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, based upon the LEGO CUUSOO project by Perijove.
This project rose to popularity in late summer 2012, when the real Mars Curiosity Rover approached and landed on the planet Mars in its historic mission. The model designer, LEGO CUUSOO user Perijove is a Mechanical Engineer who worked on the actual Curiosity rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Perijove writes that he built and submitted the rover to further the educational outreach of the Mars Curiosity rover’s incredible mission, and to encourage greater public support for space exploration.
The final product is still in development. Exact pricing and availability is still being determined, so stay tuned for an update on when you can buy your own Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover in the coming months.
Tim Courtney shares the news in this video:
Personally, I couldn’t be more excited. This is easily my favorite LEGO CUUSOO project from the past 18 months, and is one of the best projects that reflects the spirit of CUUSOO. I know many of you out there will be disappointed that the Star Wars and Portal projects weren’t approved, but I hope you can join me in giving Stephen Pakbaz some well-deserved congratulations!
Update: Caylin and Chris are there at BrickWorld, and Caylin got this shot of the model they used to make the announcement there in Chicago:
It looks essentially identical to the one Stephen used for the project itself, so that’s a good sign, though I also expect that it’s still going through the redesign project with LEGO.
Every LEGO brick has its limits. We see plenty of building techniques that stress bricks in various ways, but nobody has answered the question, “How many times can you put two bricks together and take them apart before the bricks fail?” Phillipe Cantin decided to find out.
The answer: After running his machine for more than 10 days, the LEGO bricks finally failed after more than 37,000 repetitions.