This won’t be the first time we’ve featured a LEGO MOC that’s geared towards scientific ends. Before, we’ve covered a brick-built sundial and even a scanner setup for detecting nerve gas and airborne biological agents. And now, we’ve come across another far-out scientific application for LEGO bricks, producing cultured meat.
Lab-grown meat research isn’t exactly new, but using LEGO pieces to make equipment to do so is now a thing. Researchers from Penn State University and the University of Alabama have been pondering on how to make cultured meat from starch fibers have an “organic” texture. The solution was a device that spins the starch fiber into a “meat-like” structure.
According to Food and Wine, the research teams hit upon constructing a spinning wheel for the cultured-meat fabric using various LEGO parts and moved by Power Functions motors. Plastic was the material of choice they used due to being non-conductive.
Using the setup pictured above, the researchers were able to have the spinning mechanism cause the starch fabric to align into muscle cells just like with real steak-grade meat. Of course, the small LEGO setup used means the quantity of lab-grown meat isn’t much, but the experiment has proven the concept, making the team confident in replicating the method with a larger version in future.
If you’re curious as to whether the experimenters will continue to use LEGO in their later studies of making organic-like cultured meat, the answer’s actually no. But again, the iconic toy brand has come through with its wondrously wide applicability that even scientist can rely on it for their work.