Nathan Readioff, a third year PhD student from the University of Liverpool’s Department of Physics is looking for public votes to have his Lego bricks model of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) produced by the company.
Nathan’s unique design uses existing Lego pieces to replicate the four ‘detectors’ which are essentially gigantic digital cameras used to capture the millions of collisions that the LHC produces every second. These detectors, ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and LHCb make up the Large Hadron Collider and each of the designs uses cutaway Lego walls to reveal all of the major subsystems.
Nathan is currently based at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, where he is studying the Higgs Boson using data from the ATLAS detector.
On his Lego model creations, Nathan said “I was inspired after seeing a large model of ATLAS designed by Dr. Sascha Mehlhase, which uses more than 9,500 pieces and takes about 35 hours to construct.
“I have always been a Lego fan and I wanted to take things to the other extreme by building the smallest possible ATLAS detector.
“I had in mind Lego’s basic principles of encouraging imagination and play through building bricks.
“After I had designed the ATLAS detector I was inspired to make the other three detectors to complete the set. I have even designed miniature models of the dipole magnets used in the LHC to build a representative accelerator ring.”
Nathan has compiled easy-to-use instruction booklets which provide a step by step guide to making the miniatures, together with short summaries of how their real-life counterparts work and what they are used to study.
The Lego models are already popular with the outreach teams at the University and at CERN who are keen to use them to explain to children about the LHC and its work investigating some of the most fundamental mysteries of the universe, from anti-matter to dark matter and the search for extra dimensions.
Liverpool scientists have been major contributors to the LHC’s ATLAS experiment from the start. One of the tracking detectors that sits at the heart of ATLAS was constructed at the University’s Semiconductor Detector Centre.
What is the LHC?
The Large Hadron Collider is the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world. It is a ring-shaped tunnel just short of 17 miles long, primarily made of superconducting magnets that sit 100 metres underground the French and Geneva countryside.
What does it do?
It accelerates particles. Two beams of particles called hadrons (which are either protons or lead ions) are sent careering around the ring in opposite directions. They travel close to the speed of light and at very high energies, and are encouraged to collide.
Why does it do it?
The high-energy collisions produced by the LHC aims to re-create the conditions of the moments just after the Big Bang. Physicists hope that the collisions will create particles that have never been observed: they are the basic constituents of matter and the missing links of modern physics.
Nathan has submitted his LHC models to the Lego Ideas proposal website where ideas from members of the public, which attract over 10,000 votes, are considered by Lego for future production.
To support Nathan’s Lego proposal bid, visit the Lego Proposal Page and vote for him.