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10K CLUB INTERVIEW: LEGO DNA Double Helix Discovery by Daniel Khosravinia

Welcome, Daniel Khosravinia (LegoDNA) to the 10K club! As a genetics student, Daniel is fascinated by DNA and its miraculous job of acting as the cell’s information center in addition to its role in heredity. He would also like to support future scientists with his model. Help us congratulate him and learn more about his creation - LEGO DNA Double Helix Discovery


 

ABOUT YOURSELF

  1. Who are you?
    Daniel Khosravinia, aka LegoDNA


     
  2. Where are you from?
    United Kingdom
     
  3. How old are you?
    21
     
  4. What do you study or do for a living?
    I’m a Biomedical Science Graduate and current Medical Student
     
  5. What hobbies do you have?
    Watching movies, anime, reading thrillers, and obviously LEGO!
     
  6. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    Mostly, I have used my own Instagram page, @DanielKhosravinia, LegoDNA also has its own page @LegoDNA
     
  7. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud of it and do you have a photo of it?
    LegoDNA is in fact my first actual MOC! Before that, I only assembled actual pre-existing LEGO sets. I am proud of LegoDNA not only because it is science-based, but also since it is my first real MOC. Hopefully, I will make more in the future!
     
  8. How and when did your interest for LEGO come about?
    I was maybe 4 or 5 when my mom bought me my first LEGO set. This was LEGO Knights’ Kingdom: Siege Tower. I absolutely loved that theme, although that was the only set I had from it. My love quickly shifted towards LEGO Star Wars, and I have had more than 14 different sets, including the Death Star.
     
  9. What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games or 'just' watch the cartoons.
    For me LEGO is special. Not only is it a form of play and entertainment, but it also allows an expression of creativity and acts as a form of relaxation. The beautiful thing about LEGO is its universal nature. The pieces all can fit together, which means that different sets can be used together for play or for building. Until some time ago for me, LEGO acted as a medium through which favorite scenes from a movie or cartoon were reproduced, e.g. Star Wars sets about a specific occurrence. But now that I have started building MOCs, it also allows me to think about various sets that would fit the nature of LEGO and then create it! Also, building LEGO while listening to music or watching a movie or show really helps to relax and wind down after a busy day.
     
  10. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    My favorite LEGO theme is LEGO Star Wars, simply because I am a huge fan! I have had the pleasure of owning more than 14 sets, and combining the various structures and characters to make alternate storylines and scenes is so fun! In terms of building styles, I love the fact that different themes and sets offer different variations. One favorite which comes to mind is LEGO Technic and their huge use of Technic elements, which is something that plays an important part in the bases of the LEGO DNA structure.
     
  11. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    LEGO Star Wars: Imperial Star Destroyer. The sheer size, number of pieces, and attention to detail make it so fascinating! I especially love the engines at the back.
     
  12. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    1x4 Tiles. This is because I love building smooth floors. I feel that playing with minifigures on smooth floors is a different level of fun! I also love the notched Technic axles since they’re so important for various connections.
     
  13. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Yes, I am a big fan of @20Tauri and her Women of NASA set. It was through this set that I started thinking about the various scientific events or phenomena that would look good in LEGO.


     

ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    I started thinking about various scientific sets made in LEGO after seeing the Women of NASA set by @20Tauri. I also thought creating certain non-conventional shapes, such as the DNA double helix would be challenging and would look fabulous in LEGO. I searched for official LEGO sets containing this, but once I didn’t find any, I decided to make my own. Also, I studied at King’s College London, which was one of the most important universities in the discovery of the DNA structure more than 70 years ago. 2 of the important scientists, Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins also worked there. Studying there, I started to learn more and more about the historic and ground-breaking achievements, and I would see various historical artifacts put on display. All of these put together made me decide to design this model that combines the structure of DNA as well as the history of its discovery. In addition, through my research, I started learning more and more about Rosalind Franklin, and I realized that while her research was crucial to this discovery, a lot of people not involved in science do not know about her essential contributions. I thought that the DNA set would be a fantastic opportunity to honor her, with the set acting as a form of tribute to her. This would allow more people to get to know her and recognize her contributions. Lastly, I had read and heard many stories of now famous and fantastic scientists becoming interested in science and starting their scientific careers due to various objects or toys they came into contact with as children. I hope that LEGO DNA can also help influence other people (young and older, as people of all ages enjoy LEGO) to become more interested in science. If even a single person decides to start a career in science because of this set, it would make me extremely proud and excited!


     
  2. How long was the process of making the project did, and what did you have to research as well. What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
    The whole process of making the set took about a month, but this was spread across 3 months. The process included everything from the research to the drafts and to the design. First I had to prepare and decide what I wanted the set to be about and what I wanted it to look like. I decided to combine the scientific aspect of the molecule shape, with the historical aspects. The research involved learning more about the details of the structural aspects of DNA and how these could be represented in LEGO. As I was a science student, this was relatively easier to perform. Subsequently, I had to research the most important scientists involved in this achievement, including what items could be placed in their respective labs. As I was a KCL student, this was made easier for the research about the KCL scientists, as various historical objects were displayed around campus, such as the same camera microscopes used by the scientists to take DNA sample images. When putting it all together, I decided that it would look interesting if there were 2 labs, one on either side, with the DNA structure placed in the middle. This would make it look as if it was the contribution and work of both labs that together gave rise to the DNA structure in the middle. One lab is for the King’s College scientists, Franklin and Wilkins, and the other for University of Cambridge scientists, Watson and Crick. I also had to design what code the DNA would read (as DNA bases code for proteins), and I decided on my initials :), so the code starts with M (which all proteins must start with), then DK, and then the stop codon. Finally, I had to decide on the colors to use. In most, if not all, biology textbooks, each DNA base is given a separate color, with Adenine being red, Thymine being green, Guanine being blue, and Cytosine being yellow. I decided to keep this same color scheme as it would be most recognizable to others. As for the helix itself, I wanted to use a dual-color system that emphasized the rising and helical shape. The colors would also have to be different from those in the bases, so I decided on black and light blue.
     
  3. What special challenges did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate?
    I believe the most challenging aspect of the project was representing the details of the DNA structure in LEGO. As I didn’t have any physical LEGO pieces with me at the time, I had to use a digital designer which made it all the more challenging. An interesting part, however, was the designing of the double-ringed and single-ringed bases in the middle of the structure that connect the two strands!


     
  4. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters?
    After the preparation was done, the model took some amount of time, maybe a few hours each day for a week as I was new to using digital designers. If I were building it in real life, it would probably take less. The build time was nothing compared to promoting the idea, as that took close to 2 years!
     
  5. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    It truly was a magical feeling as it took 2 years to get to it! I felt very happy as I really was engaged with the project for a long time.
     
  6. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    A bit less than 3000.
     
  7. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    My favorite sections are the bases in the middle of the helix, which is composed entirely of Technic parts, and these are used to make the double and single ringed bases. Also, I found it fascinating to use turntables fixed with other pieces at a certain degree of rotation to bring about the 36-degree rotation per base required in the helix.
     
  8. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    Stud.io 2
     
  9. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    I searched online for a photo of Rosalind Franklin’s Photo 51, and I used that on a 2x2 Tile. For the stickers on Watson and Crick’s blackboard, I drew a sketch of the DNA structure and wrote “Bases Inside?” and “Double Helix?” as if these were notes written on the blackboard.


     

ABOUT LEGO IDEAS

  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    My advice would probably echo that of other designers. Create something you are passionate about, something that means a lot to you, and through that passion, hopefully, you can achieve the support you need.
     
  2. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    There are so many great ones, like the Grand Piano, Women of NASA, Pirates of Barracuda Bay, and The Tree House. Also, I’m super excited for the Van Gogh Starry Night set that’s been approved!
     
  3. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    LEGO is something that a huge number of people grew up with. Everyone at some point thought about designing a set for LEGO, and LEGO Ideas gives people the chance to do that!
     
  4. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
    Absolutely, I would however like to keep it a secret until it’s been posted :) I think that adds to the excitement!
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • 10k
  • lego idea
  • dna
  • double helix
  • biology
  • chemistry
  • lab
  • discovery
  • science
  • history
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36 comments