Karson, writing in Earth magazine, swears that the project has a real scientific aim. Though “n between experiments,” he says, “we occasionally let kids roast hot dogs and marshmallows over the hot lava.”
Part of the reason that the understanding of basaltic lava flows remains so limited is that active lava flows are seldom witnessed up close; they tend to be inaccessible and erupt without much warning.
Having a realistic simulation of flowing lava could go a long way toward understanding how it works.
(Hat tip to Ars Technica)