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The Geek Atlas

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Science 145

brothke writes "A recent search on Amazon for travel guides returned over 30,000 results. Most of these are standard travel guides to popular tourist destinations which advise the reader to go to the typical tourist sites. The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive is a radically different travel guide. Rather than recommending the usual trite destinations, which are often glorified souvenir stores, the book takes the reader to places that make science real and exciting, and hopefully those who exit such places are more knowledgeable than when they went in." Read on for the rest of Ben's review. Irrespective of its travel content, The Geek Atlas is a unique and fascinating read for the information and overview of its wide range of topics. If there is a fault in the book, it is with its title. When people see Geek Atlas, they might think that this is a book that takes the reader to boring and obscure places, which is the exact opposite of its intent.

Author John Graham-Cumming writes that you won't find tedious, third-rate museums, or a tacky plaque stuck to a wall stating that "Professor X slept here." Every place he recommends is meant to have real scientific, mathematical, or technological interest.

Each of the books 128 chapters is separated into 3 parts: a general introduction to the place with an emphasis on its scientific, mathematical or technological significance; a related technical subject covered in greater detail, and practical visiting information. So while you may not be able to make it to the Escher Museum (chapter 29) in The Hague, Netherlands; the information on how M.C. Escher used impossible shapes in which the chapter describes is a fascinating read on its own.

Graham-Cumming notes that a disappointing trend with science museums today is a tendency to emphasize the wow factor without really explaining the underlying science. He notes the following 3 attributes of such museums: a short name ending with an exclamation mark, a logo featuring pastel colors or a cuddle cartoon mascot, or an IMAX theater.

Why does the book specifically have 128 places listed? See chapter 58, for the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley, UK. Graham-Cumming notes that your average travel guide would have listed perhaps 100 or 125 places. 128 is a round binary number (10000000). Of course, those who are binary obsessed might wonder why this book is not titled 10000000 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive.

The 128 places listed are for the most part divided equally between sites in Europe and the USA, with a few in the Far East and Russia. A complete listing of the sites is mapped on the books web site. Africa for some reason seems to be left out and perhaps a follow-up volume will fill that void. Of course, one could argue that Africa has had a minimal contribution to the world of science, mathematics and technology. Nigeria for example is famous for its 419 advance-fee fraud, but not its overabundance of contributors to physics.

For the US locations, there are locations for 25 states, with California being the biggest with 7 suggested places to visit. With that, it is surprising that the book lists the HP Garage, given that it is not open to the public and only serves as a shack to be photographed. Other places such as the US Navy Submarine Force Museum and MIT Museum are indeed more visit worthy.

The tours of some of the sites, like the HP Garage will take less than an hour or so (chapter 42 — Bunhill Fields Cemetery, London, UK), while others one can spend a half or full-day at the site.

While The Geek Atlas is touted as a travel guide, it is much more than that. Its 128 chapters are a wide-ranging overview of science and mathematics. Topics run the gamut from physics and pharmacology to transistors and optics. In fact, the book would make a superb syllabus for an introduction to science course. The plethora of subject covered, combined with its easy to read and absorbing style makes it a fantastic book for both those that are scientifically challenged, yet curious, and those that have a keen interest in the sciences.

The Geek Atlas is a fascinating and enjoyable read; in fact, it I found it hard to put down. Lets hope the author is working on a sequel with the next 256 additional places where science and technology come alive.

Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know.

You can purchase The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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145 comments

But.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759137)

...this would require going out side!

Re:But.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759663)

How come Stevie Wonder is always smiling? He doesn't know he's black!

great, but... (2, Funny)

Caue (909322) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759151)

should be titled "trips that you'll come back with the same number of condoms you left."

Re:great, but... (2, Funny)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759785)

Seriously, though, the best way to see a country is with a native girl at your side. Is there a book about how to hook up while traveling? That would be really useful.

[insert obligatory joke about slashdotters needing a similar book for use while at home]

Re:great, but... (0, Flamebait)

Caue (909322) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759857)

"dating for geeks"

#1 tip: buy new clothes

#2 tip: buy a new pair of glasses

#3 tip: don't be a geek.

Re:great, but... (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28762815)

#2 tip: buy a new pair of glasses

I have better-than-20/20 vision, you insensitive clod!

Oh, wait...

Re:great, but... (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760055)

Is there a book about how to hook up while traveling? That would be really useful.

That would be something like this [slyguide.com] ?

The 2nd edition will use an unsigned byte counter (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759199)

Offering 256 cool places to visit.

Re:The 2nd edition will use an unsigned byte count (1)

680x0 (467210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760191)

They must already be using an "unsigned byte" (or some larger integer)... 10000000b is -128 if you were using a signed byte.

Re:The 2nd edition will use an unsigned byte count (2, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760237)

Hand in your geek card. A 7-bit counter can store 128 values, and is typically used to store the range 0-127 inclusive. This book contains 128 entries which, assuming they are real geeks and count from 0, will mean that the last one is number 127.

High risk endevour (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759219)

If you use this travel guide, you will never have sex with a live human female.

Great idea (4, Informative)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759227)

I hope the Stanford Linear Accelerator is in there, took a tour of that machine about two decades ago. Awesome place. The SPEAR experiment target machine alone was worth the price. 40 tons of delicate widgets and gizmos.

Re:Great idea (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759631)

I hope the Kennedy Space Center is, especially considering today's date. They have a Saturn V rocket (or did when I visited in the eighties), as well as an Apollo capsule, moon rocks, all sorts of incredibly interesting stuff. I never realized how HUGE that rocket was!

Oh yeah, they fire off space shuttles there, too. Those are simply AMAZING. If you're up close (meaning a couple of miles away) the ground shakes. It's louder than a Pink Floyd concert.

Re:Great idea (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761223)

I see your Kennedy Space Center (included BTW) and raise you a Baikonur Cosmodrome, which I'm planning to visit in October ! I hope to witness a Proton launch (exact date TBD) or at least see the rocket!

Re:Great idea (2, Informative)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760187)

For high-energy physics enthusiasts on the other side of the country, Cornell University also gives guided tours of their accelerator (actually a synchrotron). Did this a few years ago and it was wicked cool.

Re:Great idea (2, Informative)

smaddox (928261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760945)

While we are making suggestions:

The Mirror Lab at The University of Arizona is absolutely amazing. I'm not sure if they do public tours or not (they gave us a tour for a graduate recruitment site visit), but it is definitely worth checking out if you are into astronomy/optics/engineering. When we were there, they were working on two 8.4 meter off-axis parabolic mirrors for a multiple mirror telescope. It's absolutely incredible how precise they can grind these mirrors down to when they are 8.4 meters in diameter.

Re:Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760957)

The reality of anything has very little to do with the PR. The picture above the job applications at McDonald's rarely looks like the faces you see working there. And let's not get started on the pictures of the food compared to the reality :)

Other "sightseeing" book (5, Informative)

sshir (623215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759307)

As far as "travel" books for geeks go, I would recommend "Infrastructure: A Field Guide to the Industrial Landscape" by Brian Hayes.

The book is fantastic! Even the route you take to commute to work every day will suddenly become a sightseeing trip.

Highly recommended for geeks and others who still posses a spark of curiosity.

Re:Other "sightseeing" book (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760087)

Uh...sightseeing is for people to see beautiful things. The word "industrial" when used outside the context of Art and Artists is a dead giveaway. I guess you didn't get the memo.

The problem is... (3, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760363)

...you have a limited definition of 'beautiful'.

For instance, the Large Hadron Collider. [google.com] It is, in fact, beautiful. Beautiful in execution, beautiful physics, beautiful. And falls neatly outside your context.

If this book being recommended can bring that sense of beauty to power sub stations and the like, then I think it's a good idea.

Re:The problem is... (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760793)

Go ahead and advocate that view at an Artists' gathering and see how far you get. Although the nearest one might be a fair bit away from where you live.

Re:The problem is... (2, Funny)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760999)

Well, okay, if "Artists" at a hypothetical gathering say so, I guess I'll stop trying to find beauty in things they don't approve of.

Re:The problem is... (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761103)

Most artists today aren't very interested in "the beautiful" (which is a concern of the decorative.) And they might well find the Large Hadron Collider compelling in its own way, albeit in the context of a critical reflection on the relationships between science, knowledge and culture.

Re:The problem is... (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761749)

In an episode of Top Gear from a couple years ago, Jeremy Clarkson was reviewing the Alfa Romeo 8C, asking "Can a car be a piece of art?"

He quoted an artist friend of his, who said that a car can never be art because art must have no function outside itself; it must only be a piece of art. He concluded that the 8C is a piece of art, because it's useless as a car, despite its utter beauty.

I agree; something industrial can be beautiful if it was created to be beautiful, and not simply engineered to meet a need or to fit a market segment.

Re:Other "sightseeing" book (2, Insightful)

sshir (623215) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760739)

Ha-ha-ha!

While I always try to keep conversations civil, but I'm sorry, your message about "art and artists" is just, well, stupid.

Just to make a point: are bridges part of infrastructure? Yes! (answering myself to simplify it for idiots)
What about Millau Viaduct [wikipedia.org] ? Doesn't it look fantastic?! Isn't it beautiful?! Is it worth seeing?!

A Night Sky For Star Search: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759335)

can be found in Samarqand [youtube.com] .

Yours In Tourism,
K. Trout

We need one of these for the internet (-1, Offtopic)

basementman (1475159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759343)

128 websites where the internet comes alive. I'll start, #1 lemonparty.org

Geeklings (2, Interesting)

tedgyz (515156) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759387)

For young and budding geeks, wired lists 100 Geeky Places to Take Your Kids This Summer [wired.com] . I guess they weren't obsessed with rounding up to a power of 2. Come to think of it, it's been a long time since I wrote code that worried about optimizing usage of memory/disk space to such numbers.

Re:Geeklings (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759507)

For young and budding geeks, wired lists 100 Geeky Places to Take Your Kids This Summer. I guess they weren't obsessed with rounding up to a power of 2

Dunno, maybe there are only 4 geeky places to take your kids?

Museums or real science (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759433)

How does a tourist get to experience real science getting done? I went to Los Alamos and went to a few museums there. I felt talked down to at best, and at worst propagandized. All this while many of the countries top minds are doing amazing research just thousands of feet away.

No, the only way to really see science is to have a personal connection with the investigators involved. Get a tour of their labs, sit in on a talk by a visiting professor, go to a poster session. I don't see how this book will help with any of that.

how national lab open houses? (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759553)

I've attended such at the Jet Propulsion Lab and the USGS. These tend to be more substantive than your generic tour.

Re:Museums or real science (1)

d0rp (888607) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760323)

I grew up in Los Alamos and I can agree that the museum there doesn't really offer a whole lot. There is an Atomic museum in Albuquerque (http://www.nuclearmuseum.org/) thats a bit more substantial.

Of course working as a student at the lab (they hire a lot of college students for the summer) is the only real way to experience some of the more interesting stuff. They do fun tours and even field trips to places like the Trinity test site on occasion.

Re:Museums or real science (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760985)

I have been to the Los Alamos Musem and the recently reopened National Museum of Nuclear Science & History. I agree that both, in a way, talk down to the viewer. Most science museums, in fact most widely used science curriculum, is geared to the 10 year old. There is a fear of making things too complex. I will say the Los Alamos museum was more in depth in the science, while the National museum was more in depth with the artifacts.

What i find really interesting is how you point is proven in the choice of the site. While the Trinity site is of great historical importance, it is a tourist site with little context outside of the twice a year tour. In terms of how science is done, something a geek might be more interested in rather than just an outcome, the musuems are better.

Henry Ford & Greenfield Village (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761695)

No, the only way to really see science is to have a personal connection with the investigators involved. Get a tour of their labs, sit in on a talk by a visiting professor, go to a poster session.

If you want to tour places, stop by the poorly named "Henry Ford Museum". It has little to do with Mr Ford. It's actually a history museum that simply collected artifacts from the industrial revolution. You'll see various pieces of machinery from the 18 and 1900's along with cars, train, planes, sewing machines, typewriters, combines, steam engines, locomotives, etc... Also right next door is Greenfield Village - Mr Ford bought a bunch of buildings and had them moved here. You can tour Thomas Edisons lab, the homes of various historical figures, the home of the Write Brothers (and I believe the actual shop), and many other interesting buildings taken straight out of history and preserved generations. These are not reproductions, they are the actual buildings. There are also demonstrations of how some things were made in the old days, and I believe you can even get a ride in a model T.

I'm sure most people who visit the Detroit area pass on this the way I'd pass on an Elvis museum just because of the name.

I go on geek vacations (3, Interesting)

peter303 (12292) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759443)

A good fraction of my vacation trips are for educational reasons. I want to see places, museums. conventions where I can learn new things. Some of my friends think I am crazy to do this rather than to go vacationing for pure pleasure and relaxation.

For example in April 2008 I went to central New Mexico to catch three main sites: the Trinity bomb site (open only two Saturdays a year because its inside a military base), the Socorro large radio telecope array (the staple of almost many scifi movies), and Roswell. Along the way I hit the Almogorov Space Museum (sadly declining), and the Albquerque Atomic and Ballooning museums. Los Alamos is also not far away.

My next goal is to catch one of the seven remaining shuttle launches. I better get organized because they end soon.

Re:I go on geek vacations (2, Insightful)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759573)

And I am the exact opposite. I've been in the IT industry (not coding, but routing/switching/WAN/LAN/Security) since the early 90s. When I go on vacation, I want to get as far a way from anything tech-related as I can.

I already spend enough of my life doing IT/technology related things, why would I want to do more of it on my vacation?

Obviously, to each their own, but I am having a hard time wrapping my head around the need for this book.

Re:I go on geek vacations (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759941)

I would say this is insightful because your profession probably is just a job now. If you truly love something, you'd likely not want to do anything *but* that activity. There are many people that love what they do for a living so much that their personal lives can be seen as an extension of their professional lives. There are other, like myself and possibly you, where the profession is a way to earn a living, but the really fun stuff begins when not doing work.

I am a marketing manager for a living. When I get home I love to spend time learning new programming languages and playing with various aspects of my various computer systems. If I had to do that for a job, I'd probably hate it and want to do marketing for fun.

When I was a teenager I used to teach sailing. When I was not working, on my days off, I was sailing. People used to ask me what I was doing at work on my day off, and I'd respond 'when I am on the clock I am teaching others how to sail, which is fun. When I am off the clock I am sailing myself, which is always more fun'. I couldn't get enough. Maybe technology has a similar attraction to the GP.

Re:I go on geek vacations (1)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760033)

I have a job that I love and identify with, but when I travel and during my leisure time, etc., I still feel it is important to explore other aspects of life. Overspecialization is really a kind of inhibition based on fear of the unknown and the different, and it leads to a kind of diminishment of the self. I still think it is wiser to cultivate all aspects of yourself - the aesthetic, the athletic, the emotional, as well as the intellectual - and to explore facets of the world the do not resemble that of your day-to-day life whatsoever.

Re:I go on geek vacations (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760277)

If you truly love something, you'd likely not want to do anything *but* that activity

Only if you suffer from monomania. The rest of us are capable of enjoying more than one thing, and like taking a break from some things we enjoy to focus on the others for a while.

Re:I go on geek vacations (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 4 years ago | (#28762343)

You seem to be mistaking passion for obsession. While I imagine visiting a space or car museum might be an entertaining change for some IT folk, others would find it too much like work. It's probably fair to say that taking a trip for technology in place of meeting people or seeing new parts of the world could seem like work though.

The trouble with tribbles (2, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759757)

Some of my friends think I am crazy to do this rather than to go vacationing for pure pleasure and relaxation.

Kirk: Scotty, you're confined to quarters.

Scotty: Thatnks, Captain! It'll give me a chance to catch up on my technical journals!

Re:I go on geek vacations (4, Funny)

jhp64 (813449) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759869)

the Socorro large radio telecope array (the staple of almost many scifi movies)

Actually, it's only been in nearly some scifi movies.

Re:I go on geek vacations (1)

99luftballon (838486) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759893)

You're not alone.

Apparently Bill Gates had a screaming row with Paul Allen after Allen bunked off with two workmates for 24 hours so they could get down to watch the first shuttle launch.

Re:I go on geek vacations (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760123)

Some of my friends think I am crazy to do this rather than to go vacationing for pure pleasure and relaxation.

How could anyone not find Socorro pleasant and relaxing? What is tense and stressful about a way cool machine run by way cool people in the way cool desert?

On the other hand, trinity, now that is a PITA, as I recall they want to do all kinds of crazy security screening, annoying scheduling, etc. If it were not for knowing the history of what happened, it would be right up there in excitement with visiting an IRS office.

However, its geology geeks that really have all the fun... White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns... Ft Union Monument is not really geologic buts its old and has alot of rocks... And that is just one states worth of fun.

Now what I'd like to know is where (anywhere at any site) can I find tours that don't talk down to me as if I'm a totally unprepared and slightly retarded public school educated 5th grader... That is the tiring part, like when I visit a cave and have to listen to "uh... like... rocks are like, hard, you know? Now all you little kids (and that old geek guy, too) please line up and we'll walk to the next interpretive station, where we'll dazzle you with our superiority."

Me too (2, Interesting)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760473)

Same here. After several tries at more conventional vacations that turned out to be boring (Architecture? meh. Nature? If you've seen one tree, you've seen them all. Mountains? pfft), I've given my geek impulses free rein the last few years, and it's wonderful.
I just finished a two-week trip to the UK, where I visited several old mines, a few car and aircraft museums, the Porthcurno Telegraph Museum (thanks to Neal Stephenson) [1] and Bletchley Park.

1: an absolute treat, well worth travelling to the middle of nowhere for

Too bad (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759519)

...you won't find ... a tacky plaque stuck to a wall stating that "Professor X slept here".

I always suspected he was doing Storm on the side.

LIGO, and the CREHST (2, Informative)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759541)

If you happen to find yourself in the desert of Eastern WA, I can wholeheartedly recommend Richland's CREHST exhibition on the Hanford site, and the Western branch of the LIGO gravitational interferometer out on the Hanford reservation itself. It's not often you get to stand on a scientific instrument two miles across!

Re:LIGO, and the CREHST (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759787)

You couldn't get me to within twenty miles of Hanford. I'm no fan of cancer, and that place is as radioactive as Chernobyl.

Re:LIGO, and the CREHST (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28762631)

Fairly safe if you avoid the worst areas (and ideally carry a geiger counter), then.

To anyone who has read the book... (1)

sh00z (206503) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759557)

Is there any chance that there's an explanation for the Fibonacci Sequence on the side of the dome of the Italian National Cinema Museum [tolove.it] (Mole Antonelliana) in Torino? If there was an explanation in or on the building itself, I either didn't see it, or couldn't read it...

Possibly 128 museums to visit (1)

vorlich (972710) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759593)

The majority of sites are museums, certainly Germany seemed to be mostly museums and only Peenemünde was a location although also a museum. No mention of the Nördlinger Ries crater or the crater a Steinheim - which you can visit nor any mention of Neandertal outside Dusseldorf or even Einstein's birthplace in Ulm to name but a tiny number of places you would expect to appear in this "list"

Hey! (2, Insightful)

johannesg (664142) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759601)

So while you may not be able to make it to the Escher Museum (chapter 29) in The Hague, Netherlands; the information on how M.C. Escher used impossible shapes in which the chapter describes is a fascinating read on its own.

That's only 15km from my house! It's quite easy to reach!

Anyway, I notice a rather strong focus on English-speaking countries. Why only five sites in Germany? Why is the Boerhave Museum in Leiden (in the Netherlands) missing (with its fascinating exhibit of the first-ever helium liquification system)?

And why is the Atomium in Brussels there? Talk about a crummy museum...

Re:Hey! (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761553)

I've been to the Atomium and it is definitely lame. In Paris I would recommend "Le musee des arts et metiers" which features very nice steam machines. (I love them)

More Effective? (1)

Haffner (1349071) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759619)

I feel it would be more effective to write this guide on geek places at normal-people destinations, as some of us cannot gather interest at home to visit a museum about computers. On the other hand, if said museum were in the Carribean, most of us would have little problem convincing a signficant other.

Re:More Effective? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760257)

I feel it would be more effective to write this guide on geek places at normal-people destinations, as some of us cannot gather interest at home to visit a museum about computers. On the other hand, if said museum were in the Carribean, most of us would have little problem convincing a signficant other.

Sounds like you want

http://www.insightcruises.com/ [insightcruises.com]

(I have no connection to them, other than wanting to go...)

Re:More Effective? (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 4 years ago | (#28762485)

Just curious..

http://www.insightcruises.com/
(I have no connection to them, other than wanting to go...)

What is this (seemingly) American obsession with making sure everyone knows you've not got a link with companies? I'm referring to the sort of: "Full Disclosure - I work for this company type" posts.

Counting from 0 - fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759653)

The typical CS smug counts from 0, giving 128 = 1111111. Nice 'round' binary number generally means it is the largest number that fits within a certain number of bits.

Hand in your geek card at the door.

One Canadian site? What? (1)

myvirtualid (851756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759745)

Perhaps I am too much of a fan boy for my own country, but one Canadian site? And it's Baddeck?

Am I the only dinosaur-loving geek wondering why Drumheller isn't on the list?

The only paleontology-loving geek wondering at the omission of the Burgess Shale?

The only astronomy-loving geek wondering the exclusion of DRAO?

The only communications-loving geek perplexed at leaving out Signal Hill?

And these are only the ones right off the top of my head! Imagine what a little detailed research would uncover!

Re:One Canadian site? What? (1)

jaavaaguru (261551) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760671)

There are over 200 countries in the world, and the book only covers 128 places to go and see. Be happy your country made it onto that list :-)

Re:One Canadian site? What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28761559)

Ignoring of course the fact that the USA comprises almost 1/4 of the entire book!

Yeah, that's not violently skewed at all.

Re:One Canadian site? What? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761191)

Perhaps I am too much of a fan boy for my own country, but one Canadian site? And it's Baddeck?

The only communications-loving geek perplexed at leaving out Signal Hill?

Yeah, that's an unforgivable omission.

For those who are unaware, this was the site of the first trans-atlantic wireless transmission.

Think about that.

List inclusion criteria (1)

myrrdyn (562078) | more than 4 years ago | (#28759813)

What are the criteria used by the author to make the list? It seems to me that a lot of the sites are related just to modern developments in technology, a lot less connected with (not contemporary) sciences...

Africa left out (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28759877)

Of course, one could argue that Africa has had a minimal contribution to the world of science, mathematics and technology.

Ancient Egypt? Mathematics, astronomy, engineering? Definitely a significant contribution to the world of science.

Re:Africa left out (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28761959)

But nothing in the last few thousand years that the "regular travel guides" don't already hit.

Akihabara (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760035)

As a gadget/games nerd I am very excited about going to Akihabara in Tokyo in about 6 weeks. Apparently it's the Mecca for people like me. Even with the strong Yen (vs USD) I'm hoping to find some good deals on electronics.

Re:Akihabara (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760513)

find some good deals on electronics.

Unless things have changed since I was there, you're not going to find any "good deals". What you'll find is stuff you'll never be able to find anywhere else, but you'll be paying a pretty penny (... yenny?) for them. I was there back when Sony's minidisc was the rage, and thinking of picking up a player. Stuff equivalent to the couple of models in the US back then were probably about 10% more expensive, and prices went up from there on the cooler models.

Fortunately the cost dissuaded me from buying into MD ;)

Really? (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760151)

My morning logon fortune was: "I read National Geographic for the same reason as Playboy -- to see places I'm never going to go." :)

mo3 up (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760233)

stagnant. As Linux Keep unnecessary 4, w4ich by all

Belgium (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760235)

The Atomium is included in the list. Plan your visit for the 6+7 February 2010 and visit FOSDEM 2010 !

Kids and Real Science don't mix (1, Troll)

kenp2002 (545495) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760293)

Kids today don't need any more nonsense then they already get. Here is real science:

Get up in the morning.
Drive to work.
Sit in your cube.
Spend 6 hours reading test results.
Enter test results into spreadsheet.
Spend an hour prepping results report.
Send results to senior scientist.
Go home.
Repeat.

Not everyone gets to trudge around rain forests or go globe trotting looking for the next big thing. Most sit in cubicles crunching numbers. Hell not everyone even gets to be in the lab. I remember working with a PhD chemical engineer at SEARS when I was in high school. He left the field because sitting in a cubicle all day staring at rehometer readouts for a blown film line test drove him insaine. 10 years and he never set foot in a lab. The whole of his start in chemistry was hoping to be like his father who also was a chemist (Lots of beakers and burners and condensation tubes and crap with a lab coat). Things have changed now. Kids need to see that part. Deluding kids is not the answer. Science is now, more then ever, a business and the old days are gone.

Not everyone gets to sit at an observatory looking for some celestial wonder.

Most live in Excel spreadsheets and databases.

Kids need some reality before they waste 4 years in college and countless $$$ pursuing their master's and PhD in a field they end up dropping out of once reality sets in.

We suffered enough thanks to Indy when that crap came out. "What do you mean I have to label everything and dig with a brush?!" Where is the "adventure". "What do you mean I don't get to go to Egypt?" I have to sit in a warehouse in Kentucky labeling stuff and making plaster casts?"

Enough "adventure" nonsense with the kids. They need to learn to value the aqusition of knowledge. Knowledge for knowledge's sake. We need people with a passion for real knowledge rather then just "The cool parts".

Please no more science camps. Show them a good helping of real work, stick them in a cube 3 days a week, 8-10 hours a pop.

Science is hard work. Kids need to see that. They don't need magic, they need reality.

Go ahead mod me troll I have karma to burn but we need to get our kids heads on straight.

How many kids want to be astronauts? doctors? pirates? ninjas? Astronomers? Give them a real taste of what it's like.

Want to be a doctor? Here, you get to go to doctor camp where you can spend 14 weeks a year defending yourself against malpractice suits. Hopeful astronomer? Here is a spreadsheet of gamma bursts from XM310203-01. Grab the data from the k:\orbitXM310203-01.xls and see if the gamma burst data shows if it correlates to Dr. Atworsts theory that there is a large object occluding the omission, possible an orbit. Also before heading home make sure you get Grant #44 and Grant #55 applications update for submission.

The horror stories I've seen over the years leads me every time to one factor: the reality of science and the marketing of science have grown so vast that the reailty of science is almost unknown until they get out into the private sector.

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (1)

Azghoul (25786) | more than 4 years ago | (#28760455)

Yeah, way to REALLY blow away any hope for future scientific achievement coming out of America, man...

(not saying you're WRONG, just saying... yuck)

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760727)

Hum, not quite wrong. As a Computational Physicist myself, the wow moments happens, but most of the time the work is to find a 2 factor or a minus sign on a very, very long code, or a very, very convoluted article. To do something new, there is a LOT of hard work. Then, maybe, just maybe, if you are right, the wow happens. But this is science, and it has been always like that.

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760523)

yeah, people should just die.

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (3, Interesting)

Atom Tan (147797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761469)

Wow, what a sad post.

There are hundreds of thousands of applied science jobs that do allow you to get out of a cube and get your hands dirty. Two personal examples:

My father just retired after being a chemical engineer for 15 years (his second career). During this he spent most of his time in a laboratory or in the field working with manufacturers of physical goods to design processes that would yield good results with the chemicals they were using, or suggesting better alternatives. This often involved mixing up small batches of sealants, adhesives, etc. applying them to materials with different methods (brushing, spraying, etc.), and seeing how they held up. Not everyone's cup of tea, but certainly not spending a lot of time in a cube.

My hands-on experience is with an airplane manufacturer (Boeing), where I worked for 4 years in a lab that produces simulations for all of their commercial airplanes. Actual test data for physical systems like engines and control surfaces was combined with modules like autopilots and flight management into a 7 million line-of-code simulation that could be used to drive the complete flight deck.

True much of my week was in the cube, but very often, sometimes for days on end, we would be in flight deck replicas of the commercial airplanes (complete with hardware, hydraulic controls, etc. and simulated out-of-the-window view). We used the simulator to test behavior of new equipment in simulation, prototyping new displays for pilots, etc. Engineers in our sister group, Flight Test, actually got to test the equipment in flight.

In both examples above there were dozens of engineers at the same companies doing largely the same things we were, with different programs or areas of emphasis. In other words, there were many such opportunities, but everyone was "the expert" on some particular niche.

There is always an adjustment from academia to industry, and some disillusionment (I've found it happens with new engineers around the 1 year period once the novelty of joining the work force has worn off). As a hiring manager, I look for new engineers that can do the grunt-work but are still inspired to try new things and I've found that "new blood" can actually energize the entire team. I would say a goal for academia is to inspire students with a passion for science and discovery while preparing them for the discipline and sustained hard work required to succeed in industry.

I think it is actually destructive to suggest that creativity and inspiration are not important in science jobs, because the types of jobs that do not require these (in other words, that require a certain level of knowledge but are describable and repetitive), tend to be outsourced to contractors.

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (2, Insightful)

Bunny Caerbannog (1594655) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761817)

Dude, It's about getting excited about learning and how stuff works. Science needs the superstars and interesting places to visit because it's usually not what's glorified in popular culture. Not everybody gets to live their dream but everyone wants a chance to hit the big time. If we show kids that being smart can lead to awesomeness like being athletic they might try for that. Someone's always gotta do the grunt work and that sucks when it's you.

But to lean on sports, You gotta be willing to play on the farm team to get called up to the majors.

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#28762087)

So essentially you want to show them how much of a drag work will be, no matter how much time they spend studying? Do you want to drive the teenage suicide rate up?

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (1)

jcouvret (531809) | more than 4 years ago | (#28762449)

Yep, being a scientist sucks. It's engineering where all the fun is. And these days, chicks love engineers. :)

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (1)

aldo.gs (985038) | more than 4 years ago | (#28763041)

We need you to do some recruiting, you make being a mathematician sound fun!

Re:Kids and Real Science don't mix (2, Insightful)

rlseaman (1420667) | more than 4 years ago | (#28763071)

Hogwash!

Not everyone gets to sit at an observatory looking for some celestial wonder. Most live in Excel spreadsheets and databases.

Indeed - including most astronomers. Experimental design is not boring just because it has evolved to include digital cameras and computer networks and a remote operations paradigm.

Kids need some reality

Encouraging a bit of hopeful imagination about their futures is dramatically more realistic than your fatalistic world view. As regards science in particular, your premise is absurd. Science is all around us. A forensic accountant may "live in Excel and DBs", but uses the principles of science just the same. A baker is a chemist. An auto mechanic a mechanical engineer. And both may use spreadsheets and databases regularly - and those databases and spreadsheets, if well organized, will save them a lot of time they would otherwise spend sitting at a desk crunching numbers.

A child who is encouraged to visit museums and libraries and Geek travel sites and to participate in "Science Olympiad" or "Destination Imagination" and to build LEGO robots and electronics kits and chemistry sets - is going to have a heck of a head start no matter what career they eventually pursue.

I've judged (with many others) at my local science fair for the last ten years or so. I can personally attest to having seen hundreds of "Real Science" projects successfully conducted by kids over that time. Successful by your restricted definition of success, meaning with neat, complete lab notebooks and pertinent graphics often produced from spreadsheets. And successful in the true sense of revealing underlying truths of the universe and of ennobling the spirits of the participants and judges alike.

bitCH (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28760509)

many use8s o7 BSD

COSI in Columbus Ohio (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761691)

If you go to the TV museum in Ohio you really should take half a day and go visit COSI near downtown Columbus. I spent a lot of time at the old location when I was a kid and absolutely loved it. They moved to a new location a few years back and the wife and I went to check it out last time we were in the area. It might be a bit on the childish side as it is designed to interest children in the sciences and history. But even as an adult I found the exhibits interesting and entertaining.

National Geographic Traveler (1)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 4 years ago | (#28761789)

This might be slightly off topic, but for anyone interested in a good travel guide, I used the above mentioned guide on my last trip to Hawaii (honeymoon): http://www.amazon.com/National-Geographic-Traveler-Hawaii-3rd/dp/1426203888/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1248122652&sr=8-1 [amazon.com] .

I found it to be much more useful than the standard Frommer's guide. It pointed us to lots of natural wonders (i.e. not tourist traps) and even suggested some good restaurants off the beaten path. What I liked most about the book is that it gave you a numbered guide of important things to see in each location, like having a personal tour guide (in many cases the guide pointed out things I would have easily missed). I think something like The Geek Atlas is a novel idea and would be interested to read its contents and visit the sites mentioned therein, but being an engineer who is constantly surrounded by science and technology, the things I want to see/experience while on vacation rarely have to do with those subjects. For me, vacation is a time to do something different, something out of the ordinary, something that is not part of my daily life. I'll take watching the sunrise over the top of a volcano over visiting the Hague at least 9 times out of 10...

He missed the Delta Works (1)

mvdwege (243851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28762587)

Call me a parochial Dutchman, but if you want a stunning display of science and engineering, the Delta Works [wikipedia.org] and especially the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier [wikipedia.org] should have been included. Their contribution to human knowledge and just plain awesomeness is easily on a par with the works of M.C. Escher.

And as an added bonus, if you're listing the Escher museum anyway, the Delta Works are just around the corner.

Mart

"Geek Atlas" == boring and obscure places? (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 4 years ago | (#28762751)

"If there is a fault in the book, it is with its title. When people see Geek Atlas, they might think that this is a book that takes the reader to boring and obscure places, ..."

"Geek Atlas" == boring and obscure places to you? Are you aware of on what website your comments are currently posted?
Damn, I'd love to see Alexandria, as it once was (pre-destruction).

Re:"Geek Atlas" == boring and obscure places? (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 4 years ago | (#28762959)

"Geek Atlas" == boring and obscure places to you? Are you aware of on what website your comments are currently posted? Damn, I'd love to see Alexandria, as it once was (pre-destruction).

No, that's not an intentional play-on-typo-of geek =~ Greek, for all the budding comedians out there. Feh.

Another place left out, in New Jersey (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28763085)

Yet another great place the book doesn't include: New Jersey's InfoAge Science Center. The center is located in Wall Township (near the shore). It's a hands-on learning center. Originally it was built as a Marconi America R&D facility in 1912. It was a Navy comms lab during WW1, and an Army Signal Corps lab from WW2 until the 1990s. All sorts of amazing things in the history of radio, radar, communications, and computing happened here. It's also got the biggest friggin' satellite dish most people will ever see. Today there's a radio/TV museum, computer museum, shipwreck museum, model trains museum, military vehicles museum, amateur radio museum, and much more. Hours are Sundays 1pm-4pm and other times by appointment. www.infoage.org

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