Fans of the LEGO Ideas website know it’s an outlet where LEGO hobbyists can share ideas for potential designs made from the plastic toys. Once 10,000 different fans support a submission, it becomes eligible for review to become a real-life, licensed LEGO product. One new member of the so-called “10K Club” is Nathan Readioff, who goes by the username "NathanR2015." A physics PhD student at the University of Liverpool, he created a miniature version of the world's largest and most powerful particle accelerator—the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Readioff drew inspiration for the design from real life experience: As part of his PhD, he’s worked at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, using data from the ATLAS particle detector to study the Higgs boson. Readioff helped run the ATLAS detector, and he also observed experiments conducted on all four of the LHC’s particle detectors, which, in addition to ATLAS, include CMS, ALICE, and LHCb.
The LEGO model came about because "I thought it would be fun to have a model of ATLAS sitting on my desk at work,” Readioff told the LEGO Ideas blog. The physics student found an ATLAS detector model on the LEGO Ideas blog, but it didn’t pass muster, so he "simply hauled out LEGO Digital Designer and started work on my own version,” he says. “Once my own little ‘baby’ version of ATLAS was finished though, I couldn’t stop until I had built the full set of experiments and built a model of the entire LHC.”
Around a year and a half ago, Readioff decided to share his creation with the world, and he posted it on the LEGO Ideas website. Now, if the toy company execs give the go-ahead, the tiny LHC may become a real-life, commercially sold design.
Readioff’s LHC model uses nearly 500 bricks—“373 bricks in the LHC ring, and a further 86 in the control room,” he says. Watch him talk about (and show off) the tiny model in the video below.