More and more we see instances where people use LEGO for serious projects, not merely for the amusement factor, but because it offers an awesome customizable framework for experiments.
Check out this automated microscope prototyped by a guy named Jamie Robinson, a PhD student from the University of Southampton. The USB microscope is controlled via a LEGO framework that moves the microscope and focuses automatically by raising and lowered the sample to be scanned. Additionally, it has the ability to methodically scan a larger sample by dividing it into grids.
"LEGO provides us with a familiar 'physical sandbox' which can be used to demonstrate various technologies," Robinson and his cohorts said in their super-dry abstract. "[it] allows for the rapid development of mechanical solutions that may take weeks to produce using traditional manufacturing processes. The use of LEGO Mindstorms provides us with a convenient, robust, programmable controller."
Via Hack A Day