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ATLAS Lego Model

Fotos: Christoph Krieger und Steffen Schaepe Text: Steffen Schaepe

04.11.2012 - There it is

This morning a massive crate full of Legos was delivered - and directly brought to our office. Thank god we have one office empty at the moment so there is a place to put everything. More than 10000 pieces of Lego which eventually (after a lot of fun - ahem work - by a bunch of PhD and Master students) will end up being a 1:50 scale model of the ATLAS detector. Many Thanks to Sascha Mehlhase for designing the beast, organizing the parts and providing us with the instructions.


The BoxLots of bricksEverything prepared for construction


05.11.2012 - First steps

What do you need first for a night of Lego-building? Pizza! Lucky we have three workstations in the room that we can share between the Pizza delivery service and the instruction videos. Nearly ten people gathered for the first round eager to start (playing) building. At the end of the day we managed to finish the whole inner section as well as some small parts and the base for the moun system.

As is the case with most major project already the first day brought the first set of problems: Some parts where not delivered in the right quantity. But this ain't gonna stop enthusiast detector physicists from completing their experiment.

Quote of the day: "It's like Christmas used to be - only bigger and more awesome"

Everything on one heapWork in progressReady for datataking


15.11.2012 - Things get serious

For today's work we got help of a professional. Peter came over with his son Till to help speeding up the construction works a bit.

We started building the structural parts that eventually will end up being the torroid system and supporting the whole construction. Pretty tricky stuff. Clinging faithfully to the construction videos we even managed to break the whole thing at exactly the same point Sascha did when shooting them :).

Quote of the day: "Goddammit, you're a wimp!"

Professionals at workStructural parts being preparedIt's getting tricky...


22.11.2012 - The era of mass production


Finally the blessings of industrialization have reached Bonn. Facing the challenge of constructing 4 identical copies of the support wheels (each in itself consisting of many copies of identical parts) we decided to adapt production line techniques to speed up construction. Indeed we manage to put together the whole toroid system in one evening with only three people.

Inserting the central part proved more difficult than anticipated. After putting everything in place and trying to add the toroid endcaps we realized: Off by one unit. But I guess alignment is an issue in every detector construction...


Assembly LineAlmost looks like ATLAS


28.11.2012 - The nasty bits


So far it has been fun. Now come the nasty bits. The coil closing parts are a pain in the ass (sorry Sascha) and putting on the muon chambers is a job you wish you had a highly trained miniature sized monkey for. But exceptional challenges call for exceptional solutions. Two tables can easily serve as a hoisting platform...

Also we found interesting christmas-related uses for some of the structures...

Now it's only the big wheels missing!

Cite of the day: "Other man need to have children to find excuses for playing with Lego"


Putting on muon chambers from belowDamn coli turnsAlternative useState of the art


06.12.2012 - Big Wheels and small parts


We're getting close to finish. Only the big wheels that while being left outside are indeed integral parts of the detectors are missing. As in the real detector our "Big Wheels" consist of many small parts - although thank god not as many as the 61000 individual elements in the original piece. And as during the real assembly we had to pre-assemble our individual chambers before putting them together as wheels.


Disclaimer: We do not posses any knowledge about whether a beer bottle was involved in the construction of the original muon wheels as well.


AssemblyStack of Muon chambers



10.01.2013 - Final assembly 


Everything prepared, last missing parts ordered and shipped - ready for final assembly. After roughly two month of (evening entertainment) hard work we look at the fruits of our labor. Thanks to Sasha for designing the model and organizing the ordering and shipping and thanks to Klaus Desch for acquiring one for our institute and supporting our efforts. Now there are 9517 pieces of Lego in a ordered fashion sitting in an office waiting to be transfered to a showcase where they will make their public appearance. But that will be another post.

Inner Wheels doneOuter FramesSo close...Details


28.02.2013 - Media coverage


The university of Bonn has published a press release about our project. Including this nice picture by Volker Lanner:


Official Press Photo

 Copyright: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn


The press release was published among others by the local "Schaufenster" and "General Anzeiger" as well as in "Laborpraxis". It also triggered a comment in the "Hamburger Abendblatt".


Copyright: images (if  not stated otherwise) Steffen Schaepe and Christoph Krieger, text Steffen Schaepe

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