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Lego helps scientists study delicate insect specimens.

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posted on Feb, 11 2015 @ 11:26 AM
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From Natural History Museum www.nhm.ac.uk...
Who knew playing with a popular childhood toy could help solve a scientific problem?


Natural History Museum scientists have created a tool made from Lego to hold and manipulate delicate specimens such as tiny insects.

The pinned insect manipulator (IMp) allows scientists to easily move the specimen into different positions and rotate it over two axes so that they can study the detail from many angles.

Previously, if for example scientists wanted to make comparisons between two specimens, they had to pin them to specially made or adapted devices and then constantly re-align the specimens to look at the different structures. This was time-consuming, fiddly and used expensive equipment.

‘This was not a viable solution for me,’ said Museum entomologist Dr Steen Dupont, part of the team with Dr Benjamin Price and Dr Vladimir Blagoderov who created the IMp. ‘I needed a good manipulator that was also cheap, because I needed one for each specimen I was comparing.’

So how did the Lego idea come about? ‘I solve problems with Lego… That’s just what I do.’ Dr Dupont said. ‘People are usually quite sceptical at first, but quickly realise the potential when they see it in use, then they want one!’

SO COOL!

Over the next five years the Museum aims to digitise 20 million specimens. This involves taking multiple digital photos of each, and transcribing label information, which can then be made accessible online.

Dr Dupont explains, ‘This process includes a lot of imaging, for example of pinned insects, and to get a meaningful image often we have to use different views'.

‘The IMps will become the standard manipulator in the Sackler Biodiversity Imaging Lab at the Museum,’ said Dr Blagoderov.


The team are currently working on designing portable lighting for the IMp as lighting is essential for accurate specimen imaging.

‘One of the reasons the IMps do not include lighting and a light diffusing shell is that we wanted the IMps to be as inexpensive as possible,’ said Dr Price. ‘By making it completely out of Lego it is possible to have it ordered and shipped to almost anywhere, and the low cost makes it affordable to everyone. It is especially important for scientists in developing countries and students.’


Here is a Video of the IMp in action!


Just another great use for one of if not the most popular toys of all time!


edit on 2/11/2015 by DjembeJedi because: (no reason given)

edit on 2/11/2015 by DjembeJedi because: (no reason given)




posted on Feb, 11 2015 @ 12:24 PM
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a reply to: DjembeJedi

hi op, that is excellent.
Though the lego looks like meccano.



posted on Feb, 11 2015 @ 01:10 PM
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a reply to: DjembeJedi

I would hate to be the specimen... Poor little guy, stuck to a Lego Device just to be spun around at will



posted on Feb, 11 2015 @ 01:13 PM
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a reply to: PsychoEmperor

Yes Its not to great for the insect.
But Im sure I've read that Nicola Tesla attached insects to a type of
waterwheel and observed them spinning the wheel.



posted on Feb, 11 2015 @ 01:21 PM
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originally posted by: covman
a reply to: DjembeJedi

hi op, that is excellent.
Though the lego looks like meccano.


I was thinking the same. But all articles I could find refered to them as Lego..lol oh well.



posted on Feb, 11 2015 @ 01:29 PM
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a reply to: DjembeJedi

It is lego - but a kind developed for older kids initially but finding great favour with model makers and robotics nuts.

Lego Technic



posted on Feb, 13 2015 @ 03:25 AM
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a reply to: Silk

Yep, beat me to it. Meccano is metal and uses nuts and bolts.



posted on Feb, 14 2015 @ 01:02 AM
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I remember those, I had a set that was a model of R2D2 using them. Anyway this seems like a great low cost solution for the problem. Part of me can't help but wonder if LEGO may make an actual set for this to cater to a new market? Good on the guy for coming up with it!




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