Tag Archives: Science

LEGO Microscope by Carl Merriam

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.

LEGO approves Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover CUUSOO project [News]

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.

LEGO CUUSOO Curiosity Rover

(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.

How many times can you put two LEGO bricks together before they break?

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.


Previously: How many LEGO bricks stacked vertically would crush the bottom brick?

This Collection Will Make Your Skin Crawl!!!

Afraid of bugs? Well, Sean and Steph Mayo aka Siercon and Coral have built some spectacular insects and you don’t have to worry about them crawling all over you. And, if you are not freaked out, check out the great building techniques used to create the superb detail in these creations.

There are 10 total and each with amazing detail. Check out their photo set to see them all.

Adventure Thru Inner Space

Although the Disneyland attraction Adventure Thru Inner Space was torn down in 1985 I can still hear the narrator like it was yesterday: “For centuries, man had but his own two eyes to explore the wonders of his world, then he invented the microscope, a mighty eye, and discovered the fantastic universe beyond the limits of his own meager sight. Now your adventure thru inner space has begun. Thru Monsanto’s Mighty Microscope, you will travel into the incredible universe found within a tiny fragment of a snowflake. I am the first person to make this fabulous journey, suspended in the timelessness of inner space are the thought waves of my first impressions. They will be our only source of contact once you have passed beyond the limits of normal MAGNIFICATION… MAGNIFICATION.. MAGNIFICATION. MAGNIFICATION!”

This mighty microscope is brought to you by Brasilian Gilcelio Chagas, whose interview you can check out here, if you missed it.


How many LEGO bricks stacked vertically would crush the bottom brick?

We generally pass up all the “World Record attempt!” tower builds that seemingly happen constantly, because, well, they’re not all that interesting (and most often promote some business or event that doesn’t need any additional coverage from us). But a recent experiment by the Open University is a bit more intriguing.

According to the article on the BBC, Dr. Ian Johnson and his team set about to answer the question, “How many Lego bricks, stacked one on top of the other, would it take to destroy the bottom brick?” And how tall would that hypothetical tower be?

Crushed LEGO brickBased on calculations of the average 2×2 brick’s weight and measurements of force exerted on the brick by a hydraulic ram until the ABS failed, it would take an average of 432 kg (950 lbs) to crush the unlucky brick. That’s a hypothetical 375,000 2×2 bricks, towering 3.5 km (2.17 miles) into the sky.

Dr. Fleming says, “The material is just flowing out of the way now and it’s not able to take any more. We’re getting a plastic failure. It means the brick keeps on deforming, without the load increasing. Metals can be plastic, and this plastic is being plastic.”

Read the full article on the BBC, and feel free to suggest other LEGO experiments in the comments! Who knows, we might head to a local university lab ourselves and give your test a try.

Soviet Lunokhod 1, first robotic rover on another world

I watched a show on the Science Channel called “Tank on the Moon” last night, about the USSR’s Lunokhod robotic rover program, and learned just how much today’s rovers on Mars owe a debt to these Soviet lunar rovers. Built during the 1960s in secret, Lunokhod 1 landed on the moon in 1970 and operated for four months. The feat of launching, landing, and successfully operating a remotely operated rover on another celestial body wouldn’t be repeated again for nearly 30 years, with the Sojourner rover on Mars.

After watching the show, I felt like my own collection of LEGO rovers was incomplete, and felt inspired to build one. However, I soon remembered a wonderful LEGO version of Lunokhod 1 by Japanese builder Kei-Kei over on CUUSOO.

LEGO Lunokhod 1 on CUUSOO

(Kei-Kei’s presentation is even what I would’ve done myself, with the Classic Space baseplate and Star Wars planet standing in for Earth in the background. I may still build one of my own, but this one’s too good to not highlight here on TBB.)

Head on over to CUUSOO to support this excellent project.

Mars Rovers Sojourner & Opportunity + Aldrin Mars Cycler

Having immersed myself quite deeply in both the recent news from Mars and as a judge of the Real World Starfighter Contest, I felt compelled to do a bit of building to scratch that space itch. I’d already built Stephen Pakbaz’s Curiosity, so just had to build Sojourner (landed 1997) and Opportunity (landed 2004 and still operational) in approximately the same scale.

Mars Rover Family Portrait

Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity   Mars Sojourner Rover

There’s nothing functional about my LEGO Sojourner, but Opportunity has working rocker-bogie suspension (which I struggled mightily to build, since the design is different from Curiosity’s, and I couldn’t simply scale down Stephen’s LEGO version). I plan to build the lander at some point, too.

After he landed on the moon with Neil Armstrong, astronaut Buzz Aldrin came up with an idea for a craft that would cycle back and forth between the Earth and Mars, providing significantly greater comfort for astronauts during the five-month journey. With the cancellation of the Constellation program, the dream of regular travel to and from the Moon and Mars seems even farther away. Nevertheless, I still find the idea inspiring, and built my own rendition of an “Aldrin Mars Cycler”.

Earth-Mars Cycler "Aldrin" (1)

Perijove’s LEGO MSL Curiosity Rover hits 10K on CUUSOO [News]

UPDATE (June 14, 2013): LEGO MSL Curiosity Rover is go for launch!


Back on August 5th when I first highlighted the excellent Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover project by Stephen Pakbaz (Perijove) on LEGO CUUSOO, the project had been online for about eight months and had accumulated about 1,300 votes.

In a sign that timing is everything (with a little help from a few friends on the web), Stephen’s Curiosity project hit 10,000 supporters this weekend. In fact, the project gained its final 5,000 supporters in less than 24 hours.

LEGO Curiosity Rover with skycrane

(I wanted to use a picture of the model we haven’t already used several times here on the blog. Stephen’s proposed model for the project doesn’t include the skycrane, but how awesome would that be?!)

I used Stephen’s instructions to build the rover myself yesterday, and it’s a really excellent model. The build itself was very enjoyable, and I even learned a few SNOT techniques I hadn’t seen before. The final model includes so much detail and functionality it’s really fun to play with, in addition to being just shy of fully functional (with working “rocker bogie” suspension, stowable mast & arm, and little details like forward and rear haz-cams).

LEGO MSL Rover instructions

However, Stephen’s rover does include a handful of unusual parts, and parts in quantities or colors that I don’t have (especially the Technic parts for a mainly SYSTEM builder like me). Even with my substantial, relatively well-sorted collection, it took me the better part of an afternoon to dig around and gather all the parts, and I still had to place a couple small Bricklink orders to replace parts I don’t have at all in the right colors.

All of this is to say that an official set will be a great way to easily get all of the necessary building materials for a reasonable price — as I’m sure LEGO won’t be charging $2 for the white bracket (of which the model requires two), for example.

Congratulations to Stephen, and I can’t wait to see how LEGO handles this particular project. Specifically, I’d love to see LEGO accelerate the approval of this project, given LEGO’s existing partnership with NASA, the clear educational value of the model, and the current “space fever” gripping the world.

Finally, in case you missed it last week, be sure to check out our interview with Stephen Pakbaz (who worked at JPL as an engineer on the Curiosity project) right here on TBB.

LEGO Mars Curiosity Rover powered by MINDSTORMS NXT (not plutonium)

We’re generally not as quick to blog Technic and MINDSTORMS models here, so with apologies to our readers who’ve already seen this (but in the interest of completeness): Will Gorman and Doug Moran recently built a fairly functional version of the Mars Curiosity Rover, with four of six working wheels, robotic arm, and mast.

According to the builders, “The Curiosity Rover was created with 7 NXT Bricks, 13 NXT Motors, 2 Power Function Motors, and over 1000+ LEGO Bricks. The software was developed using leJOS NXJ.”

The LEGO Group provided all the LEGO, and the rover was featured at LEGO and NASA’s Build the Future in Space event at Kennedy Space Center.