Professor Timo Betz is a very famous and well-accomplished biophysicist at the University of Göttingen in Germany. He is so popular and educated that one can find his name on widely cited research papers with serious-sounding titles like Neurite branch retraction is caused by a threshold-dependent mechanical impact and External forces control mitotic spindle positioning.
He is the person responsible for the structure or rather the idea of a microscope build from Legos. He wants this to be kind of a fun experiment which enthusiastic people can try outbuilding at their own home.
“If you have the parts, and if you are good at building Lego, it can be done in 30 minutes,” Betz told Digital Trends. “If you are a bit new, I guess one hour is reasonable. There are some difficult parts when it comes to the part where we need to adjust the focus. In this quality regime, we need to move the lens on a fraction of the diameter of a hair. That is hard to achieve with Lego, but a worm drive can do the job. However, this takes some patience to build. Still, I [have] the feeling that the children could do it better than the adults.”
The idea came to him on a day very suddenly too. “[My son, Emil, and I] were basically sitting together playing Lego on the weekend,” Betz continued. “I had agreed to prepare a lecture for school kids, with the aim to introduce them to my work in the lab — biophysics, with a focus on cell mechanics — so I was asking him what he thinks is interesting for children his age. He told me that he really likes the microscopes we have in the lab, and suddenly there was the idea of having a microscope built from Lego. My first reaction was that this is too hard, because of the precise movements and all the parts that are non-Lego. But he came up with a series of great ideas on how to overcome the difficulties that I explained to him.”