How can LEGO, a delightful construction toy, a versatile art medium, a celebrity plastic, that which is so fun, also be an instrument of pain?
Oddly, it can. Try walking barefoot on a floor, strewn with these innocent-looking little blocks, and you’ll discover the secret meaning of the phrase, “I hope you step on a LEGO”—a retort in “rage comics,” said to anyone who’s done you a bad turn.
The stab you feel is a combination of two factors. One, the sole of the foot has some 200,000 sensory receptors, which makes it very sensitive to pain. Two, when you step on a LEGO brick, your weight is concentrated on a very small area, generating a pressure of three million pascals. And because its made of a very strong plastic, it channels that pressure back into your foot, digging into it remorselessly, without itself getting crushed.
Known for their sharp edges and peerless sturdiness, each piece is built to withstand a weight of 950 pounds. It’d take a tower of 375,000 bricks, 2.17 miles high, to break the bottom one.