Building CERN’s LHC out of Lego at Scienceworks

High Energy Physics Conference

At Scienceworks this weekend parents and kids are building a Lego model of a piece of the Large Hadron Collider – that’s CERN’s 27km long particle accelerator buried underneath the French-Swiss border which is looking for the Higgs boson, aka the “God particle”

Stills of the completed model:

Media clips of the real thing:

Then choose – Large Hadron Collider; Atlas experiment

We’re not sure if they’ll find the Lego Higgs boson. But then, we’re not sure that they’ll find the Higgs boson in real life either.

They’re building a model of the ATLAS detector – one of the particle physics experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.

The real ATLAS detector is the largest, most complex particle detector ever built. It’s 44m long, 25m in diameter and weighs 7000 tonnes. The Lego version will be somewhat smaller – about a metre across

The Lego fans are from ASD Aid, a not-for-profit which promotes Lego therapy for kids with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Building models together like this is a great way for kids with autism spectrum disorders to meet and gently develop their social skills.

Tanya Hill from the Planetarium will be able to explain what the real ATLAS detector does, and Rob Deakin from ASD Aid will be free to chat about the benefits of bringing these kids together to work on the model.

For more information call Niall Byrne on 0417 131 977 or

Caroline Hamilton, 0478 402 765,


ScienceWorks is at 2 Booker St, Spotswood, Victoria, 3015.

The Lego ATLAS detector model is a lead-up event to the 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics – in Melbourne from 4 to 11 July – with the main action and the juicy stories from 9 to 11 July.

Physicists from around the world, including leaders from CERN, the Fermi Lab and other major particle accelerators will be in Melbourne. Lots of Australian scientists working abroad will be home and available to chat about their work.

And hopefully, if everything goes to plan, there will be an announcement on the Higgs boson – the so-called “God Particle”.

It all depends on whether there’s enough data to confirm or deny its existence, but if they do, then this conference is the place where we’d expect to hear about it.

We’re helping with media for the conference. There will be a staffed media room set up and we can facilitate access to leading scientists from CERN, the Large Hadron Collider, the Fermi Lab and the other big particle physics labs.

Media registration for the conference is open at

More on the conference at

The Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks, along with ASD Aid, the ATLAS Experiment at CERN and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP) have joined forces to bring the Lego build to fruition.

Rob Deakin from ASD Aid is a big believer in Lego as therapy, and says that

“It is quite staggering the number of families impacted by ASD around the world. We hope that by building the ATLAS model together we can inspire LEGO fans around the world to join together with our mission to set up local clubs for ASD families”. He adds “Parents know we are providing a meeting place that allows subtle development of social skills and face challenges for kids with ASDs.”

Dr Tanya Hill, Astronomer for the Melbourne Planetarium, also believes that Lego is a great way for people to understand particle physics

“I love the analogy of Lego and particle physics – after all, the job of the particle physicist is to try and discover nature’s fundamental building blocks… what are we made of and how does the Universe work at its most basic level?

ATLAS and the LHC are remarkable physics experiments but they are on scales that are just so hard to comprehend. Seeing the Lego model, it brings to light all that is needed to make these experiments work – the huge and powerful magnets and the arrays of detectors.”

The ATLAS Lego model is the brainchild of Dr Sascha Mehlhase who originally designed the model as an outreach project for the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen. The model is one of only a few in existence. The pieces were flown all the way from CERN in Geneva. Once the model is completed, it will make up one element of a particle physics display in the Planetarium foyer at Scienceworks during the July school holidays.