Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Physicist Kenneth Libbrecht of Caltech is fascinated by snowflakes (here in LEGO by lego_mancer). Snow crystals (flakes are technically blobs of conglomerated snow crystals) form when a tiny droplet of water freezes in a cloud at about -10 degrees C. The initial ice crystal will form a hexagonal prism due to the symmetry of how water molecules interact. After the first solid crystal forms, supercooled water vapor will go directly from the vapor to solid phase, starting at the six corners of the prism. As the crystal tumbles through the cloud, water condenses faster and slower, giving the beautiful complex shapes we've all known since we cut snowflakes out of paper in a grade school art class.

Learn much more at his site This site is very well written for the non-scientist, and you can learn things about the reason for the hexagonal shape, why snow looks white, whether any two crystals are actually the same, and how to grow artificial snow crystals. There are also tons of beautiful photos. Give yourself a Christmas treat and check out the site.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

LEGO for girls / science for girls

As a science educator, we constantly hear about the pipeline. The education pipeline starts with a perfect balance between boys and girls, but over the years from grade school to high school to college to graduate school girls get turned away from STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines at a greater rate than boys. The numbers are certainly significantly better than they were ten or twenty years ago, but there is still a disparity between men and women in technical fields.

Okay, I know that I'm biased here since I'm obviously a LEGO fan, but I believe that playing with LEGO as a kid can be a great learning tool. Kids learn problem solving skills, they follow directions, they learn three dimensional thinking. I contend that I'm an organic chemist today in part because of playing with those little plastic bricks in my childhood. While LEGO bricks are gender neutral, LEGO has become known to many as a "boys' toy". Now LEGO is working to turn this around with the new Friends line. They've studied how girls play similarly to and differently from boys. The figures are meant to look more like girls than the traditional minifig, since they argue that girls want toys that look like themselves. The main characters have story lines, similar to the American girls series (though without the historical tie in, that might have been cool), and the color palette is supposed to be more 'girl-friendly'.

This move has not been without some controversy. As I see it, the complaints come in a couple of flavors. Some within the fold of LEGO builders don't like the new figs and the move away from more open ended non-story-driven building. Others argue that these sets play into too many gender stereotypes. 'Boy' sets are about exploring and conquering, while the new 'girl' sets (which are all pink and lavender) have girls going to the hair salon. I certainly understand both of these points. However, as the dad of a four-year-old girl, I'm pretty excited about these sets. Like it or not, my girl is totally into princesses and fairy tales, and I don't think (maybe I'm fooling myself here) that we've tried to indoctrinate her into some stereotype roles here. But she'll completely love these set. The new figures, for instance, are extremely similar to some Strawberry Shortcake figures she already has and loves. And loving these sets will, I'm sure, push her to more inventive building with LEGO, and all of the educational benefits that go along with that. (To be fair, she also completely loves her Toy Story LEGO sets, and those are completely gender neutral.)

Don't worry, though. I'm not going to run out and buy her the hair salon set. The first one that I'll get will be Olivia's inventor's workshop (okay, probably the puppy set too). Check this out! Here we have a girl playing with a microscope, building a robot, and working out mathematical equations on a chalkboard. Now that's the sort of role model I want for my girl. I hope that LEGO makes more sets along these lines as they expand the Friends theme. But even if they don't, I think that getting more girls into building with LEGO is a Good Thing, both as a LEGO enthusiast and as a science educator.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


A microscope (here by Carl Merriam) uses a series of lenses to magnify very small objects.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Congratulations to MorsLEGO's wife, who just completed her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology. He made her this small scene of her at her microscope in commemoration of her achievement.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Roald Amundsen

I missed posting this yesterday, which was the 100th anniversary of Roald Amundsen (here by BruceWaynelego) reaching the South Pole.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Higgs boson

CERN scientists in Geneva today reported that they may have found evidence for the Higgs boson, a fundamental particle in the universe that was predicted by the standard model and is thought to play a role in why all of the other particles have mass. The Large Hadron Collider smashes protons together at extremely high speeds and then analyzes the debris. One of the instruments used to study the pieces is the Atlas detector, here in LEGO form by Dr. Sascha Hehlhase. Dr. Hehlhase is a physicist at the Niels Bohr Institute in Denmark. This model is scaled to a minifig, which gives you a feel for the size of the real thing.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Integrated Circuit Day

I'm sure I'm not the only one here who start their online day with Google as their homepage. Anyway, today's Google doodle honors Robert Noyce, who, along with Jack Kilby, invented the integrated circuit (here much larger, in ABS rather than silicon, by Dave and John Xandegar). Over the past half century, our whole world has been turned upside down by the technology flowing from their initial work.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Farewell, Voyager

If you're my age, and in any way interested in science, you probably remember being inspired by all of the great images of Jupiter and Saturn that came out when I was in about fifth or sixth grade as the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 probes flew past our Solar System's biggest planets. You may even remember watching Carl Sagan tell us all about them on TV. Anyway, Voyager 1 (here in LEGO form by Shane Larson) is at the very edge of the Solar System. At about 11 billion miles away from the Sun, the probe has entered a region where the effect of the solar wind, energy and particles being pushed out from our sun, is all but gone, and it is starting to feel the currents of interstellar space. The batteries will last until the year 2025, so as the probe goes further, scientists are looking forward to learning more about what it's really like out there beyond the edge of our chunk of the galaxy.

Friday, December 2, 2011


Lego Monster Ed Diment and members of the Brickish Association helped coordinate a massive group build where members of the public put together this mosaic at the Lego Space show at the National Space Centre Leicester, UK, this past July.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


The lemniscate of Bernoulli, here by aklego, is a plane curve defined from two given points F1 and F2, known as foci, at distance 2a from each other as the locus of points P so that PF1·PF2 = a2. This is a special case of a Cassini oval (which is simply where the product of the two distances equals a constant).

BTW, all of that description came straight from Wikipedia. It's been a lot of years since I took a formal math class, and don't remember these at all.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween

I apologize for the gaps in posting. Anyway, I wanted to do something holiday themed, but wasn't sure what to choose. I considered putting up a LEGO Frankenstein scene, since Dr. Frankenstein is kind of the ultimate mad scientist, but wanted to do something a little more 'real science'. So I thought: what do kids get tons of at Halloween? Sugar! So I found this. MIT sponsor the Mind and Hand Alliance to get kids excited about science. In one exercise, they use LEGO to build models of molecule, and here and here they have instructions to build glucose, one of the key sugars in biochemical processes. Technically table sugar is actually sucrose, which is a combination of glucose and fructose, but there you go. There model making is interesting - they use black, white and red LEGO bricks to represent carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, which are kind of the standard colors used in molecular models (atoms don't actually have colors, of course), and they represent carbon and oxygen as being the same size and hydrogen as smaller. They also have some sense in their model of stereochemistry, with some groups pointing up and others down, as is also true of real molecules. The ultimate result is not very satisfying to me, though, since the rectangular shapes imposed by the LEGO bricks don't lead a shape that closely fits the real molecule. But if it gets kids thinking about molecules, though, I'm all for it. I've noted here before that in part I am a chemist today because of building with LEGO as a kid.

Monday, October 24, 2011


I've previously discussed polymers. A polymer is a long chain made up of repeated molecules linked together. The plastic that makes up LEGO bricks is ABS, a compound polymer made of three different parts. Nathan Proudlove was originally going to produce all of these in brick form, but due to the size of the project limited himself to a beautiful rendition of acrylonitrile. The black spheres represent carbon atoms, the white are hydrogens, and the blue sphere is a nitrogen. You can also see that two of the carbons are connected by a double bond (two pairs of shared electrons), and the carbon and nitrogen are connected by a triple bond (three pairs).

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yuri Gagarin

Fifty years ago this year, Yuri Gagarin climbed into the Vostok 3KA capsule and was launched atop a Vostok 8K72K rocket into space. 108 minutes later he had made a complete orbit of the Earth and returned to earth via parachute. Apparently he landed near a farmer and daughter, and he later recalled "When they saw me in my space suit and the parachute dragging alongside as I walked, they started to back away in fear. I told them, don't be afraid, I am a Soviet like you, who has descended from space and I must find a telephone to call Moscow!" Gary Davis made this amazing bust.

Bono1900 made Gagarin and his rocket.

Morgan190 put together this minifig.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I've previously noted the Japanese Hayabusa probe that was sent out to retrieve samples from an asteroid. It turns out LEGO is going to be making an official set (available in Japan only, though, I believe) of this probe.

This is part of the LEGO Cuusoo project, that was piloted in Japan but is now coming to the internet near you. People can submit ideas and then vote on what they'd like to see LEGO produce as a set. I'm not 100% sure, but I think that LEGO designers take the original idea and rework it into a set, rather than simply taking submitted designs. Anyway, the previously noted Shinkai 6500 ocean probe was also produced via LEGO Cuusoo. Interesting that the first two projects that came through this program were science themed. I believe that these may have been prototype designs.

Friday, September 23, 2011


A zoetrope is a device to create an optical illusion of movement out of still pictures. A cylinder is set vertically so it can spin. Along the inside are individual pictures, and the cylinder walls are pierced by slits. As the cylinder spins, your eye catches glimpses of the pictures inside in quick succession, and your brain strings these together into a moving image. The early predecessors of the zoetrope go back almost a couple of millenia, but the modern zoetrope was invented about two centuries ago. Improvement and related devices led over the course of the 1800s led to the motion picture projector, and today's movie theaters, which work on pretty much the same principle. This LEGO zoetrope by 62bricks was inspired by an earlier creation by Lego Tron.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Radioactive waste disposal

Leaving aside the possibility of a horrible accident, like Chernobyl or Fukushima, nuclear power is a great way to generate power. (we could certainly argue about how the once-every-twenty-years possibility of a major even compares to the much less flashy but much more prevalent accidents due to coal or other technologies). The radioactive waste repository (here by Corioso) addresses the biggest problem with nuclear power (and with nuclear medicine and other uses) - what to do with the waste. A substance is radioactive when it is made up of atoms with unstable nuclei. An unstable nucleus will break down over time, emitting small particles and energy. This radiation can cause damage to other molecules (notably important biomolecules in living systems) by knocking away electrons. If this happens to DNA, for instance, this can lead to damage or breakdown of the DNA, leading to things like cell death and cancer. Some radioactive substances will be dangerous for many many years, even centuries, and so the waste is buried deep underground in stable geologic formations.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Matt Armstrong is doing a series of inventions and made this beautiful sextant. This instrument was first developed in 1757, and is used for measuring the angle between two distant objects - most importantly the horizon and a star. This can be used to calculate a ship's latitude, and was extremely important in helping ships navigate across oceans.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Student office

First up in my look back at my chemistry grad school MOC is the student office. When you're in grad school, this is basically your home. You work here, you entertain yourself by surfing the web, you eat the dinner that you grabbed in the student center at your desk so you can check your reaction every ten minutes, sometimes you even sleep here. Ah, the glamorous life of the grad student.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Chemistry Graduate School

About ten years ago I made a Chemistry Graduate School for my then-girlfriend-now-wife, who is also a chemist. I put this together like it was a line of small modular sets based on the design of the old Harry Potter sets (e.g. see Snape's Class and the Forbidden Corridor).

Friday, September 2, 2011

Albert Einstein

Around the turn of the last century it was believed that physics was pretty much a closed book, that Newtonian physics explained it all. Then in 1905 a humble patent inspector named Albert Einstein published four key papers based simply on sitting at his desk and thinking that revolutionized the face of science. To take one, "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light" (the basis for his 1921 Nobel prize) looks at a phenomenon that had not been explained before that point, the fact that electrons are ejected from a surface when you irradiate it with an appropriate wavelength of light. Einstein suggested that light could be described as both a wave and as discrete particles. This wave/particle duality forms one of the key elements of quantum mechanics. He realized that when you deal with very small amounts of energy, you find that it is quantized - that is, you cannot break it down into smaller units (just like matter can be broken down into smallest units). His other studies went on to revolutionize our understanding of matter, energy, gravity, magnetism, light, and the nature of space itself. It's no surprise that he has become the face of science and genius, and this huge bust can be found in Legoland Germany (there's a similar bust at Legoland California, and probably the other Legolands as well).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bye-bye, figs!

Pcdos61 was there to watch the launch of the Juno probe (the one that is carrying three minifigs to Jupiter).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fermat, well, no, Pythagoras

If Google is your home page (it's mine), you noticed this morning that today is the 410th anniversary of Fermat's birth. We all remember from high school geometry that the sum of the squares of the sides of a right trangle equals the sum of the hypotenuse, or a2 + b2 = c2, the Pythagorean theorem. Fermat famously came up with his 'last theorem', that this did not work for other powers, e.g. there are no positive integers that lead to a3 + b3 = c3. Unfortunately he didn't have space in the margin where he noted to give the proof. Or maybe that was fortunate, as it inspired the last few centuries of mathematicians to tackle this problem, until it was finally proven in 1995. I couldn't find any LEGO creations relevant to Fermat, but the Pythagorean theorem is useful in building with LEGO. You may think that LEGO is limited to square structures, but using pythagoras you can connect things at other angles, using 3/4/5 triangles, or 5/12/13, etc. For example:

Or you can see the lines here:

The late Erik Brok did some work on this using hinges:

and technic beams:

There's more discussion of how to use Pythagoras in LEGO building on various LEGO sites, like here, here and . Break away from the rigid rules of right angles!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What hath God wrought?

During the early 1800's there were a series of inventions designed to transmit messages over wires, leading up to the point where Morse developed his telegraph (here in LEGO by Monsterbrick) in 1837. This was the first step of the telecommunications revolution that brought the world together, leading up to the internet today.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More on Juno

The Brothers Brick had some additional links on the figs going to Jupiter - the press releases are available from NASA and LEGO.

LEGO writes that "The LEGO crew’s mission is part of the LEGO Bricks in Space project, the joint outreach and educational programme developed as part of the partnership between NASA and the LEGO Group to inspire children to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics." and that information and activities will be found at

BTW, looking closely at the figs, I notice that Galileo isn't just holding a simple ball, but instead it's engraved to look like Jupiter (you can see the swirling clouds and the great red spot).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Minifigs headed to Jupiter

Three minifigs are headed for Jupiter! These three stowaways, representing Jupiter, Juno and Galileo, are affixed to the Juno space probe, which is launching in two days. The probe will arrive near Jupiter in July 2016. LEGO carved these out of solid aluminum to include in the probe. They only revealed this little detail at the last minute - I hope they actually make something out of this and produce these as plastic figs. I'd love to own an official Galileo fig.

Periodic Table of the Elements

Surely everyone recognizes the periodic table, posted on the wall of every chemistry classroom, but what does it mean and does that characteristic shape bear any meaning? Let's start with the basics - The world around you is made up of a little over 100 fundamental types of atoms, called elements. These elements are characterized by the number of protons in the nucleus - Hydrogen, the smallest element, has only one proton, Helium has two, Lithium has three, and so on. Mendeleev noticed that when you arrange these by increasing number of protons, there are repeating properties - every eighth element reacts in a similar way. It turns out, reaction patterns are related to the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus. These electrons are found in regions called orbitals. S orbitals hold two electrons, p orbitals hold six, d orbitals hold ten and f orbitals hold 14. Now take a close look at the table below. On the left=hand side is a block made of two columns, then a block colored blue made up of ten columns, then another block made of six columns, and down below is a white section made of fourteen columns. That's not accidental. Neutral atoms have an equal amount of protons and electrons, so Mendeleev's list could also be characterized by an increasing number of electrons. Reading from left to right and moving down the table line to line, the first two electrons are in s orbitals, the next two are also in s orbitals, then the next six electrons go into p orbitals, and so forth.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Shuttle set rerelease

As part of a tribute to the end of the Space Shuttle program, LEGO is rereleasing set 10231, Shuttle Expedition. This is a fairly minor reworking of last year's set 10213, Shuttle Adventure. It's supposed to be a more sturdy design to be more play-able for younger kids.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Just because the Space Shuttle program is over doesn't mean NASA is shutting down. Our astronauts will continue to visit the International Space Station using other rockets, and a future manned program is in the works. More immediately, though, is the Curiosity (here built by Tim Goddard), an unmanned probe that will launch for Mars later this year. The Mars Space Laboratory's mission is to collect and analyze samples to see if Mars can, or has in the past, support any form of life.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Doppler effect

Since sound travels as a wave, if you move the source of that sound, the waves will be pushed closer together (higher tone) or further apart (lower tone). This is the source of the doppler effect, as you can hear when a firetruck goes past, or in this rotating speaker by ISOGAWAYoshihito. This is also the source of the red shift that indicates that other galaxies are moving away from us.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Welcome home, Atlantis

With the landing of the Atlantis, three decades of the Space Shuttle program draws to a close. It feels like I've been watching these things go up in the air for most of my life, so it's kind of a sad moment. Whither now, NASA? Remember when George Bush announced the next step for NASA was a trip to Mars? The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 provides for development of a new launch system, to ultimately move beyond Earth orbit in five years, but in the meantime our Astronauts will be riding Russian rockets up to the ISS, or else fly on commercial carriers. This Shuttle sculpture is from Legoland Windsor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy birthday, Gregor

As anyone who visits Google knows, today is the 189th anniversary of the birth of Gregor Mendel (here in LEGO form by Kaptain Kobold). Mendel discovered the basic laws of genetics while observing the growth of pea plants. He noted that if two plants with purple flowers are crossed, the offspring has purple flowers. If two with white flowers are crossed, the offspring has white flowers. However, if a purple flowered plant is crossed with a white flowered plant, the offspring has purple flowers. While the molecular basis for this would not be discovered for fifty years, he correctly surmised that flower color is driven by a pair of factors, and there are dominant and recessive genes. He worked out the implications of how genes are mixed and matched in sexual reproduction, and is considered the father of genetics.

Just a quick apology for the month long hiatus in this blog. Life has been hectic lately.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shinkai 6500

I previously noted the Japan-exclusive set 21100, Shinkai 6500. Builder Ocean-Storm made a number of modifications to make a more accurate model of the deep-sea explorer.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Building in space

The other day I mentioned the LEGO sets sent to the International Space Station. While some of them are more fun, like a model of the ISS, some of them will be physics experiments. LEGO hasn't posted lesson plans yet, but students here on earth will build models to do simple experiments, like compare mass using a balance, and their results will compare to those performed in orbit, under conditions of microgravity.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


STS-134, which landed recently, was the next to last Space Shuttle mission. One fun aspect of this mission was the launch (literally) of a partnership between LEGO and NASA. A set of LEGO models was brought up on the Shuttle to the International Space Station as part of an interactive project to get grade school kids excited about science. This actually isn't the first such partnership, but more on that at another time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


MRI, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging, is based on the same principles as NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) (they changed the name out of concern that patients wouldn't come near something 'nuclear'). Hydrogen atoms have a very small magnetic moment. Normally, these magnetic moments are completely random and cancel out. When placed in a strong external magnetic field, these hydrogen nuclei align either with or against the external field. When these are pulsed with radio wave energy, the tiny atomic magnetic moments flip from low energy state, to high energy state, and then relax back to the low energy state. Since the body is full of water molecules, mapping out the location and density of these molecules (or, more properly, the hydrogen atoms in the H2O), doctors can get a peek inside your skin.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

NFPA 704

If you've spent any time around a chemical laboratory, you're familiar with these colorful diamonds. Even if you haven't, you've probably seen them where ever potentially dangerous chemicals are stored. The National Fire Protection Association designed the chemical hazard label (here by me) to be a quick indicator of the presence of dangerous substances.

This symbol is found on individual chemical containers, and also on the doors to rooms containing these chemicals. The blue box indicates health hazards ranging from 0 (no hazard, no precautions needed) to 4 (potential to cause serious harm or death upon short exposure). The red box is for flammability, from 0 (inflammable) to 4 (forms an extremely flammable vapor at normal pressure and temperature). The yellow box notes reactivity, again ranging from 0 (completely stable) to 4 (capable of detonation or explosive decomposition). The white box is reserved for special hazards. The NFPA standard only recognizes OX for oxidizing agents, and a W with a slash for those substances that react with water. Informally, people often add other hazards to this box, such as the symbol for radioactivity, or the word ACID, etc. One thing to note, you have to include the highest level hazard on the sign, so if you saw the NFPA label below on the door to my lab, it tells you that there is at least one substance in the room with a health hazard of 3, another substance that has the flammability of 4, perhaps still another with a reactivity of 3, and something else that reacts with water, not necessarily any one chemical with all of those properties. The idea is that someone entering the room (particularly an emergency responder) would know what possible hazards are there and what protective gear they need to wear.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Haleakala Observatories

MorsLEGO made a tiny model of the Haleakala Observatories on Maui. The location (altitude, weather and lack of light pollution) makes this an ideal site. These observatories contain several telescopes and other instruments devoted to a wide variety of missions, such as tracking the movements of the earth's tectonic plates by bouncing a laser off the moon, tracking asteroids, a military project to track enemy satellites, and a telescope devoted to educational projects that teachers can apply to participate in.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shinkai 6500

No other manned research submarine can dive deeper than the Shinkai 6500, a vessel operated by JAMSTEC, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. This year, LEGO offered set 21100 based on this sub exclusively in Japan. Ocean-Storm shows the Shinkai 6500 here investigating a hydrothermal vent. Superheated water issues from these cracks in volcanically active areas, often including high levels of sulfur. The energy and minerals available from these vents can give rise to very unique life forms, such as the giant tube worms seen here.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Breaking Bad

Chemistry is the study of change. Electrons change their energy levels, Molecules change their bonds, elements combine and change into compounds. It is all of life: the constant, the cycle. Solution, dissolution, over and over and over. Growth, then decay, then transformation. It is fascinating. Really.

That's what Walter White tells his students in the pilot of Breaking Bad. When his life begins to fall apart, he starts synthesizing metamphetamine. The chemistry there is actually pretty simple (let's face it, there are a lot of people making meth out there who ain't the sharpest knives in the place where they keep the knives), but I don't know if I feel comfortable going into it here. Instead let's get into something much more kid-friendly: how to make poison gas. ;) When confronted by two other drug dealers who want to kill Walter and his partner Jesse, he throws some chemicals together and suddenly the bad guys (the badder guys?) are choking on the floor. He tells Jesse "red phosphorus in the presence of moisture and accelerated by heat yields phosphorus hydride, phosphine gas." Actually, not quite, according to Dr. Jonathan Hare. He probably should have used white phosphorus, a different allotrope of phosphorus. Allotropes are different ways of arranging atoms of just one element. For instance, both graphite and diamond are allotropes of carbon. White phosphorus consists of four atoms arranged at the points of a tetrahedron. When this is heated over 250 degrees Celsius, it transforms into red phosphorus, which is an amorphous network of phosphorus atoms. You probably know red phosphorus best from wooden matches. Anyway, when white phosphorus is heated with water at basic pH, phosphine gas is indeed produced.

P4 + 3 NaOH + 3 H2O ? 3N aH2PO2 + PH3

Orion Pax made this awesome rendition of Walter's RV

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Saturn V

Matt Wagner rendered this great version of the Saturn V, the rocket that sent the Apollo missions to the moon, based on set 7468, Saturn Moon Mission.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Arecibo message

On November 16, 1974, a 1679 digit message was broadcast into space from the Arecibo Telescope. The stream of 0's and 1's was created by shifting the frequencies, or, here in LEGO form by Chris Doyle.

1679 is the product of 23 x 73. If some alien race receives the signal, and then breaks it down into 79 separate sets of 23, then can then assemble these into a picture.

The result would give them information about us - an indication of the elements used in our DNA makeup, an image of the double helix, an image of a human, and the composition of our Solar System.

This was really more of a proof of concept experiment than an actual attempt at communication with others in our universe. Given that the globular star cluster targeted by this message is 25000 light years away, any response would come in about the year 52000 AD.

BTW, Carl Sagan, who was a proponent of the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI), was a part of the composition of the message. If you read Contact (again, please, don't watch the horrible movie), he spends a great deal of time discussing how messages could be transmitted across the stars and subsequently decoded.