Jon Titus - May 21, 2010
In its infinite wisdom, the US Army stationed me at Sandia Base, NM, now part of Kirtland Air Force Base, south of Albuquerque. During my tour of duty I often visited the nearby "Atomic Museum" that included replicas of nuclear weapons and a complete B-52 bomber in an outdoor exhibit area. The museum--expanded and updated--still operates, but as the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History: www.nuclearmuseum.org.
Since my time in Albuquerque I've enjoyed visits to many other technology "sites" and museums such as the Deutsches Museum (Munich, Germany, www.deutsches-museum.de), the Boston Museum of Science (Boston, MA, www.mos.org), The Tech Museum of Innovation (San Jose, CA, www.thetech.org), and The American Computer Museum (Bozeman, MT, www.compustory.com).
There are many interesting engineering and scientific places to visit, but some are difficult to find unless you already know what to look for. So I got a nice surprise in an email message that announced the book, "The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science & Technology Come Alive" by John Graham-Cumming. Some of John's world-wide destinations include:
O'Reilly Media included the following information in its press release:
"Unfortunately, finding great scientific places to visit isn't as easy as finding homes of long-dead poets, painters, or writers," noted Graham-Cumming, a self-described wandering programmer. "This is a pity, because if there's one thing that makes science stand apart, it's the willingness of scientists to freely share what they do." And unlike many travel books, this one is written for scientists. "In the technical descriptions, I've tried to simplify the science without dumbing it down to the point of using analogies and metaphors instead of actually describing ideas," said Graham-Cumming. "So as you flip through the book, you'll see the sorts of pictures you'd find in a travel guide, but also a lot of diagrams and equations. (Any reader who doesn't want to deal with the equations can safely read the first part of each chapter.)
Before you pack up the old RV or camper, check locations and hours. The Trinity Test Site, for example, opens only twice a year for visitors--it's now part of White Sands Missile Range, so you can't just show up anytime.
For a quick look at the book's contents, visit: my.safaribooksonline.com/9780596802257. The 542-page Geek Atlas sells for $US 29.95. ISBN: 9780596523206.
Two interesting places I didn't see listed in "The Geek Atlas:"
1. Brant Rock in Marshfield, MA. In 1906, Reginald Fessenden engaged in the first two-way radio-telegraph exchange between his station here and another station in Scotland. Fessensden's station is long gone, but you can still visit the concrete base for the main antenna. Sadly, the base has deteriorated and no one has taken pains to preserve the site.
2. Marconi Beach in the Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet, MA. You can visit the Guglielmo Marconi's radio-station site on the outer Cape and also walk along the spectacular beach. Not much remains of the station except the antenna base, although exhibits show what the station looked like when in operation.
UPDATE: My friends at Test & Measurement World magazine just updated their article, "Technology Museums Offer Something for Every Interest," originally published in 2000. That article lists many international places to visit. You will find the updated article at www.tmworld.com/article/CA6661457.html.
Feel free to recommend interesting places to see or visit that would interest scientific and engineering colleagues.