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Nuclear Chemistry

Chemistry In Pictures

Chemistry in Pictures: Lego power

by Craig Bettenhausen
June 25, 2020


A Lego model of a nuclear reactor.
Credit: Idaho National Lab/Lego

Nuclear energy is complex and even scary for some people. Lego playsets, however, are about as nonthreatening as it comes. Enter Catherine Riddle, a radiochemist and member of the science outreach team at Idaho National Laboratory. Riddle has been a Lego hobbyist since 2013. Early in her work on the team, she discovered that the Danish toymaker has an online tool that lets people design their own playsets. So she set to work and created “Atomic Town Power,” a model of Experimental Breeder Reactor I, which shook the world in 1951 by powering four 200-W lightbulbs with the first usable nuclear electricity. EBR-I then went on to make enough juice to power the whole building and, more importantly, serve as a testing ground for theories that are central to modern nuclear science.

Think Lego should put the Atomic Town Power into commercial production? Tell them so here.

Credit: Idaho National Lab/Lego

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