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Lego Large Hadron Collider searches for building blocks of life

An intrepid physicist has built a model of the Atlas detector at the Large Hadron Collider out of 10,000 pieces of Lego.

The Large Hadron Collider atom-smasher is searching for the building blocks of reality -- but no-one expected them to have studs on the top. Yes, an intrepid physicist has built a model of the Atlas experiment at the LHC out of Lego.

As the LHC discovers its first particle -- the sub-atomic particle Chi-b (3P) -- we couldn't resist bringing you the 10,000-piece Lego model built by physicist Sascha Mehlhase. The 1:50-scale model of the Atlas experiment at CERN is nearly half a meter tall, complete with orange-suited and hard-hatted Lego minifig miniphysicists.

He spent a weekend mapping the Atlas detector in the Lego Digital Designer modelling software, using the standard Lego man -- known as a minifig -- for scale.

After the bricks were delivered by Lego about a quarter of the building time was taken up with sorting them by colour and type, and several more hours were spent figuring out by eye which bricks went where after Mehlhase abandoned the 4,500-page instruction manual automatically generated by the Lego rendering software.

Mehlhase even conquered some of the hurdles that faced the boffins building the real-life LHC, such as the heavy outer magnets in both the real and Lego Atlas having to support themselves.

The model is set to go on display at Mehlhase's workplace, the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. He hopes to one day see it at CERN.

The Large Hadron Collider has a special place in our hearts here at CNET Towers: our April Fool's joke from two years ago, about a man arrested at the Large Hadron Collider claiming he's from the future, has since taken on a viral life of its own. As fans of the LHC's quest for knowledge, we salute both the scientists of CERN and their Lego counterparts.

Are you excited by the prospect of Lego time travel? Tell us your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook page, and check out our interview with a CERN scientist to find out what life is really like at the LHC.