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The Geek Atlas 145

Posted by samzenpus
from the read-all-about-it dept.
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.
The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive
author John Graham-Cumming
pages 542
publisher O'Reilly Media
rating 10/10
reviewer Ben Rothke
ISBN 978-0596523206
summary A fascinating and enjoyable read
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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The Geek Atlas

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  • by Caue (909322)
    should be titled "trips that you'll come back with the same number of condoms you left."
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lord Ender (156273)

      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]

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

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

      • by mjwx (966435)

        Seriously, though, the best way to see a country is with a native girl at your side.

        Sir, I plan to visit the states, would you recommend a Cheyenne girl over a Cherokee girl?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:08PM (#28759199)

    Offering 256 cool places to visit.

    • by 680x0 (467210)
      They must already be using an "unsigned byte" (or some larger integer)... 10000000b is -128 if you were using a signed byte.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TheRaven64 (641858)
        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.
        • by idontgno (624372)

          I'm not going to assume you even have a geek card, because your google-fu is so weak.

          ECCE LIBRO II CONTINENTUR [oreilly.com]

          Srsly. Google '"Geek atlas" table of contents'. First link.

          The table of contents enumerates 128 chapters, indexing from 1 to 128. So your assumption that all geeks count from zero is unfounded.

          If you, in fact, possess a geek card, please report for re-certification.

          • I'm not sure what your point is. If you base from 1 instead of 0, then 7 bits is still enough to store 128 distinct values.
    • The 2nd edition will use an unsigned byte count offering 256 cool places to visit.

      Hand over your geek card; a signed (two's complement) octet can store up to 127, not 128.

      BTW, it'd have been much more geeky if it said 0x80 places...

  • Great idea (Score:4, Informative)

    by interval1066 (668936) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:10PM (#28759227) Homepage Journal
    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 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mcgrew (92797) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:31PM (#28759631) Homepage Journal

      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.

      • by srussia (884021)
        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!
      • Well, their amps go up to twelve!

      • by wowbagger (69688)

        I'm rather disappointed that The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center [cosmo.org] isn't listed: there is NO other museum where you can see an authentic V1 and V2 under the same roof, let alone an SR-71, Apollo 13, plus more Russian gear than anyplace outside of Moscow.

        • by mcgrew (92797)

          You should see an SR-71 tale off; I was stationed at a base that had 9 of them. The thing rolls down the runway, does a wheelie, and takes off like a bottlerocket. It makes the Space Shuttle look slow.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by AdmiralXyz (1378985)

      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: (Score:3, Informative)

      by smaddox (928261)

      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 dia

  • by sshir (623215) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:14PM (#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.
    • 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... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Weaselmancer (533834) on Monday July 20, 2009 @03:20PM (#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.

        • 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: (Score:3, Funny)

            by CopaceticOpus (965603)

            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.

          • 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.

          • by Chabo (880571)

            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 nee

          • by khallow (566160)
            You forget that artists have a massive conflict of interest when it comes to defining art. For example, another replier mentions a claim that art cannot have a function. That's a convenient definition for someone who can't make something that functions. Similarly, there's a number of examples of modern art that while interesting, don't take that long to put together. While someone can spend a couple of hours putting together a work of art, it's worth remembering that they get a lot more money for that two h
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by sshir (623215)
        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?!
  • Geeklings (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tedgyz (515156) * on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:19PM (#28759387) Homepage

    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.

    • by Hatta (162192) *

      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?

    • by wowbagger (69688)

      The did well to list The Cosmosphere [cosmo.org], but I'm surprised they didn't mention The Salt Mine Museum [undergroundmuseum.org] just down the road, or Big Brutus [bigbrutus.org] over in the eastern part of the state.

  • by Hatta (162192) * on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:21PM (#28759433) Journal

    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.

    • I've attended such at the Jet Propulsion Lab and the USGS. These tend to be more substantive than your generic tour.
    • by d0rp (888607)

      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.

    • by fermion (181285)
      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 ch

    • 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, t

  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:21PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Em Emalb (452530)

      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.

      • by fprintf (82740)

        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

        • 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 y

        • 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.

        • 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.
    • 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!

    • by jhp64 (813449) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:47PM (#28759869)

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

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

    • 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.
    • by vlm (69642)

      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 Cavern

    • Me too (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hcdejong (561314)

      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

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      The problem with shuttle tourisim is that the launches get scrubbed so often, your odds of actually getting to see it aren't good if you don't live in the area.

      Some advice if you do go:

      1. Go to a night launch. Day launches are cool too, but night launches just cannot be adaquately described. The amount light they put off is unreal. Think artificial sunrise.
      2. Don't bother gettting "tickets". Just drive down 50 until you hit the beach, find a place a few blocks back to park, and walk down to A1A.
      3. Half of the ex
  • Too bad (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...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 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:27PM (#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!

    • by mcgrew (92797)

      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.

  • 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...
  • Subtitled: (Score:3, Funny)

    by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:28PM (#28759565) Homepage Journal

    128 Places Where You Have Zero Chance of Getting Laid

  • 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! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by johannesg (664142) on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:30PM (#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...

    • by godrik (1287354)
      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)
    • by RockDoctor (15477)

      Anyway, I notice a rather strong focus on English-speaking countries. Why only five sites in Germany?

      It's SlashDot - what do you expect? At least they do acknowledge the existence of other languages, and indeed, continents. Though why they didn't combine their "location" for the Northern Lights with a visit to Northern Sweden or Norway?

      As a geologist, I see that there's a definite under-representation of earth-science sites. They're not too hot on astronomical sites either. In the whole of Australia they re

  • 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.
    • by vlm (69642)

      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...)

      • by caluml (551744)
        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.

  • 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!

    • 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 :-)

      • Yes, but leaving out the Burgess Shale is ridiculous.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burgess_Shale
    • 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.

  • 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 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 20, 2009 @02:48PM (#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.

    • Africa also is home to some of the most holiest site for all geeks: http://www.tunisia.com/tunisia/travel/star-wars-tunisia [tunisia.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mjwx (966435)

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

      Africa was left out because it is not exactly a safe or easy place to visit, especially for a pasty nerd. There are notable exceptions. The Pyramids make for a very geeky place to visit if your into architecture, language or history but the mainstream tourists have drowned that our. Just don't fly into Cairo if you can avoid it, makes the traffic of Mumbai look organised.

      If you like Archite

  • Great, now all these destinations will be overrun with geeks.
  • 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.
  • by redelm (54142)

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

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

    • by Azghoul (25786)

      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: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Atom Tan (147797)

      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

      • by turing_m (1030530)

        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.

        I don't think he suggested that creativity and inspiration are unimportant. They are. He just suggested that a dose of reality was good. I think he has a point. If you can find part of the reality tolerable, inter

      • by kenp2002 (545495)

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

        Reality check: there are BILLIONS of people on Earth. In the USA alone over 300,000,000. Even if there was 3 million of applied sciene jobs in the USA we are talking 1% of the population would have access to those jobs. I've sat with countless graduates both masters and PhD level education. It's hard enough to find work in the private sector with a PhD (much easier with a masters apparently) let alone get a job where you get to live outside a cubicle.

        I can think just off the top of my head 4 Lockheed enginn

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      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 th

    • 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?

    • by jcouvret (531809)
      Yep, being a scientist sucks. It's engineering where all the fun is. And these days, chicks love engineers. :)
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rlseaman (1420667)

      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 premis

    • by T.E.D. (34228)
      You could similarly make being an NFL quarterback sound dull, if you just related all the hard work they spend most of their time doing to prepare for the relatively short games.
  • 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.
  • Just got the book and love it ~Ami http://transcendevelopment.com/ [transcendevelopment.com]
  • 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 a
  • Darn it! We got lots of science & technology places:

    • Sudbury, Ontario [wikipedia.org]
    • EA Vancouver -- not that you can visit the place
    • Nunuavut Diamond Fields
    • Burgess Shales
  • 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

  • "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).
    • by tqk (413719)

      "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.

  • This is a Nirvana for up and coming science geeks. http://www.exploratorium.edu/mind/ [exploratorium.edu]
  • I looked at a handful of his mapped locations, and seriously worry about where he is steering people. Sure, the Joseph Priestly House would be a good place to visit for the budding chemistry geek, but some of the others are seriously misguided.

    Take for example the Nikolai Tesla museum in Belgrade, Serbia. A budding mad scientist should know that Tesla, although Serbian, never set foot in Belgrade. His contributions to science started in Graz, Austria, and then really took off in the US. There is no plac
  • *shrugs*

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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