Did you know Lego pieces can serve as a primitive analog Monte Carlo agent?
Yeah, I didn't either. In fact, I hardly know what that sentence means.
What happened is a mathematician at a German university dumped a bunch of Lego pieces in a washing machine (without washing powder, he is careful to note in his report on the project. Some of the Lego bricks stuck together (“many stable complexes arose”) and the mathematician with too much time on his hands recognized this could be used to visualize aspects of spontaneous self-organization, because why not.
Lego pieces are intended to be versatile. And while the creators of the classic construction toy may not have planned for their product to be used to model advanced mathematics via washing machine, the ABS bricks have served plenty of uses beyond model Eiffel Towers and Millennium Falcons.
I found a few other examples of scientists using Lego products to create their own specialized tools. Often driven by budget constraints, their inventions are clever and cost-effective and a little more distinctive than your average microscope (although someone made one of those, too.
The plant holder