Maia Weinstock
Maia Weinstock

The Women of the Supreme Court in LEGO Form

Maia Weinstock
Maia Weinstock

The Supreme Court has long been a boy's club—so far there have only been four female justices since the court's inception. Somehow the court managed to be woman-free for an embarrassing 192 years, until Sandra Day O'Connor's appointment in 1981. 

Artist Maia Weinstock decided to celebrate the four female justices by immortalizing them as LEGO minifigures. The custom pieces aim to showcase ladies in law and encourage women to seek out higher professional positions in the legal world. 

The four figures—Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan—come with their own U.S. Supreme Court replica and SCOTUS library, so the figurines have the proper setting for some serious law regulating. 

Maia Weinstock, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Maia Weinstock, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Maia Weinstock, via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

You can check out the full library here.

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Vivian Abagiu, University of Texas at Austin
This LEGO Box Could Be Key to Detecting Deadly Nerve Gas
Vivian Abagiu, University of Texas at Austin
Vivian Abagiu, University of Texas at Austin

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new way to detect deadly nerve gases, and it involves LEGO.

The new detection device, described in a study published in the journal ACS Central Science, uses chemical sensors, a box made out of LEGO bricks, and a cell phone to identify the presence of odorless, tasteless nerve agents like VX and sarin.

Chemical weapons like sarin are extremely dangerous—even at low concentrations, a direct whiff of sarin can kill you in just minutes. So being able to identify them in the field is vital, and it has to be done fast.

The chemical-identifying sensors, developed by UT Austin chemist Xiaolong Sun and his colleagues, fluoresce in different colors and brightnesses to indicate which nerve agents are present in the air, and in what concentrations. Unfortunately, depending on where these tests are taking place, it’s not always easy to see how bright the fluorescent glow is. Expensive equipment designed to detect these changes in the lab just isn’t feasible on the battlefield or in a war-torn region.

An open black LEGO box sits in the lab in front of a chemical test plate.
Vivian Abagiu, University of Texas at Austin

The 320-brick LEGO structure, meanwhile, is portable and quick to assemble. It acts as a black box that blocks out light around the sensors. The top of the box has a hole in it, over which the user places a smartphone’s camera lens. Using a standard lab test plate and a UV light inside the box, the fluorescent changes can be photographed with the phone and analyzed with UT Austin's free software to determine what type and concentration of nerve agents are present in the sample.

While 3D printing could produce a cheap equivalent of the LEGO box, the toy bricks may be more accessible. Not everyone has access to a 3D printer or the same printing materials as researchers might use in the lab—but LEGOs are available across the world for a relatively low price. The software necessary to analyze the samples is available for free on GitHub, and the researchers include the LEGO assembly directions within their study.

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Build Your Own Harry Potter Characters With LEGO's New BrickHeadz Set

Harry Potter is looking pretty square these days. In a testament to the enduring appeal of the boy—and the franchise—who lived, LEGO has launched a line of Harry Potter BrickHeadz.

The gang’s all here in this latest collection, which was recently revealed during the toymaker’s Fall 2018 preview in New York City. Other highlights of that show included LEGO renderings of characters from Star Wars, Incredibles 2, and several Disney films, according to Inside The Magic.

The Harry Potter BrickHeadz collection will be released in July and includes figurines of Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore, and even Hedwig. Some will be sold individually, while others come as a set.

A Ron Weasley figurine
LEGO

A Hermione figurine
LEGO

A Dumbledore figurine
LEGO

Harry Potter fans can also look forward to a four-story, 878-piece LEGO model of the Hogwarts Great Hall, which will be available for purchase August 1. Sets depicting the Whomping Willow, Hogwarts Express, and a quidditch match will hit shelves that same day.

[h/t Inside The Magic]

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