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17 Best Places for a Geek to Go This Summer [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2012-4-10 11:02:18 |Display all floors
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The top expeditions, 
experiments, and vacation excursions.
by Emily Elert
From the May 2012 issue; published online March 30, 2012

GET DOWN TO EARTH
 The most exotic geological hot spots in the country
Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone 
National Park, Wyoming
The plume of molten rock that rises from more than 400 miles inside Earth beneath Yellowstone National Park powers the 10,000 springs, geysers, and other thermal features located where magma-heated water and steam come simmering to the surface. Yellowstone’s biggest hot spring, Grand Prismatic, also hosts some of the planet’s strangest, hardiest life.

Arches National Park; Shutterstock

Sandstone Sojourns 
 Arches National Park, Utah
Famed environmental advocate and essayist Edward Abbey lived and worked in Utah’s Arches National Park as a ranger in the 1950s. Today you can follow in his footsteps through the park’s sandstone landscape, viewing features such as the Fiery Furnace, a labyrinth of dramatic red rock formations. Abbey wandered the park’s backcountry on his own, but times have changed: Due to the Fiery Furnace’s fragile soils and rare plants, access is limited to guided tours. Reserve tickets online up to six months in advance.

Fluorescent Minerals 
 Franklin and Ogdensburg, New Jersey
These neighboring towns share the title of fluorescent mineral capital of the world. Their two zinc mines have yielded more than 90 types of rare minerals that glow under ultraviolet light, due to trace amounts of manganese trapped when the crystals formed. Visitors to Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, where UV lights expose glowing red calcite and green willemite in the mine’s walls, can take a chunk of the stuff home with them.

Subterranean Winery 
 Napa, California
Wine making is an art, but fickle fermenting grapes pose hefty technical challenges as well. Jarvis Winery built a 45,000-square-foot cave into the side of the Vacas Mountains to age their drink at high humidity and constant temperature. Tours of the cave include a visit to its underground chamber for aging wine—the world’s largest—and a formal tasting. (Non-oenophiles will appreciate the wine cave’s uncanny resemblance to the Star Wars rebel base on Hoth.)

Transit of Venus 
 All of the U.S. (and most of the world)

Volcanic Eruption 
 Montserrat, Lesser Antilles
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79 buried the city of Pompeii in a single day. By comparison, the Soufrière Hills volcano on Montserrat, a 60-square-mile island in the Caribbean, has been erupting sporadically since 1995, slowly entombing the lower two-thirds of the island in ash. Visitors can look down on the destroyed capital city of Plymouth from the Montserrat Volcano Observatory, where scientists monitor the volcano’s rumblings and issue hazard warnings to the island’s depleted population. Ferries from nearby Antigua can take you to the island or around it, depending on your appetite for risk.

Swamp ToursNear New Orleans, Louisiana
The delicate Mississippi River delta ecosystems have been taking a beating from pollution, stream diversion, and other human activities upstream. But there is, for now, still some intact marsh to see, including the 35,000 protected acres of the Honey Island Swamp, 30 miles northeast of New Orleans. To admire the moss-hung Seussian cypress trees and deceptively lethargic alligators from a dry, safe distance, sign up for one of the flat-bottomed boat tours in the area. Tours run year-round, but local guide Paul Wagner says that spring, which brings a wealth of wildflowers and migratory birds to the swamp, is particularly magical. No word on which season is best for spotting the Honey Island Swamp Monster, a hairy, Bigfoot-like creature fabled to live in the wetland.

Ice-capped peaks encircle Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park; David Restivo/NPS

Retreating IceGlacier National Park, Montana
Most of the ice that carved Glacier National Park’s ridges and valleys melted more than 10,000 years ago, but by the time fur trappers ventured into the area in the 1800s, new glaciers had formed. Now those, too, are disappearing, and researchers say the handful of holdouts could be gone within a decade. So go now to see these glacial remnants in the hollows at the heads of valleys or under mountain peaks—or to take a dip in the lakes that collect downslope in summer.

Side Trip Science Museum of Minnesota St. Paul, Minnesota
When the Museum of Questionable Medical Devices in Minneapolis closed in 2002, curator Bob McCoy donated his incredible collection of quackery to the science museum. The devices on display include a vibratory chair, which supposedly cured constipation and headaches through shaking so violent that patients had to hold tight to its handles, and a fluoroscope, once casually used in shoe stores to X-ray customers’ feet. Other exhibits include a miniature golf course that teaches visitors about both landscape evolution and biodiversity.

SWIM WITH THE FISHESIntimate looks at underwater life

Shutterstock

source from: http://discovermagazine.com

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Post time 2012-4-10 11:03:18 |Display all floors
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Scuba 
Spearhunting   Cozumel, Mexico
On the surface, the island of Cozumel—a 30-minute ferry ride from Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula—is a peaceful tropical paradise. But off the island’s shore, it is under siege from the beautiful, exotic lionfish, which is encroaching on the world’s second-largest coral reef.
Invulnerable to virtually all predators due to poisonous spines that cover its body, the lionfish has spread from the North Atlantic—where it was accidentally introduced by the aquarium trade in the 1980s—to the Caribbean and across the Gulf of Mexico. When it reached the Cozumel reefs in 2009, its voracious appetite for more than 50 fish species made it a threat to the local ecosystem.
Scuba instructor Gabriel Santana Perez is one of many local divers fighting the invasion. He leads awestruck tourists around the reefs, most of the time as a conventional tour guide—navigating narrow swim-throughs in the coral and spotting sharks, eels, rays, and other exciting sea life. But he is always on the hunt for lionfish.
 When he spies a group of the interlopers lurking under the coral, the dive master darts toward them, readying the spear he carries on every dive. He impales the fish one after another, snips off their poisonous spines, and feeds them to other fish, including groupers that circle suspiciously before swallowing their meal whole.
Visitors can sign up to accompany Santana Perez at Del Mar Aquatics or take spear-hunting classes at several local dive shops. For those who prefer to keep a safe distance from the fray, some area restaurants cook up and serve the lionfish.

Marine Safari  Catalina Island, California

Visitors here, an hour out to sea from Los Angeles, can decide just how close they want to get to the rich marine life thriving in the area’s kelp forests and coral reefs. Glass-bottomed boat tours provide a glimpse down into a marine conservation area called Lover’s Cove. To get an even closer look, clamber into a semisubmersible vessel and view the ocean from a few feet below the surface, or strap on an undersea helmet (complete with speakers and an air-supply hose) and stroll on the seafloor with a biologist guide.



Salmon Spotting 
 Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon
A wild run of spring chinook salmon make their annual 300-mile journey from the Pacific Ocean to the Warm Springs National Fish Hatchery in central Oregon, arriving each spring and summer. Visitors can walk the grounds, watch salmon climb the fish ladders, and tour the facilities. Nearby, guided tours in inflatable kayaks travel the last leg of the salmon’s route along the river.



Side Trip US Space and Rocket Center  Huntsville, Alabama

You’re never too old for space camp, and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center knows it. Adults can register for a weekend filled with model rocket building, spaceflight history classes, and, upon special request, underwater astronaut training. Students also pilot a flight simulator and climb into the camp’s centrifuge to experience the 3g force astro nauts feel during launch. For a less intense NASA experience, the center also features an extensive collection of rocketry, including the Apollo 16 capsule and a full-size replica of the Apollo 11 Saturn V, the largest rocket ever launched.

DIG IN AND GET DIRTYAdventures for the hands-on type

Trinity test explosion, 1945; Los Alamos National Laboratories

Atomic Artifacts Bayo Canyon, New Mexico
Three miles east of Los Alamos, this canyon lies between two volcanic mesas. There, the U.S. military perfected the implosion mechanism used in the Fat Man bomb detonated over Nagasaki, Japan, in 1945.
These days, a hiker passing through the canyon might not notice anything unusual, other than a few posted signs instructing visitors not to collect firewood in the area. Closer inspection of the ground will reveal bits of “interesting-looking metal,” says Carl Willis, a nuclear engineer at Qynergy Corporation in Albuquerque. These bits include sockets for photomultiplier tubes from the radiation detectors, and coaxial cables used for signals and timing purposes. The detritus is fair game for anyone who wants to take home a piece of the Manhattan Project (Native American artifacts at the site are strictly off-limits, however). Most of the items aren’t radioactive, Willis says, “but there is hot stuff for people who get down on their knees with a Geiger counter and sort through all that rubble.”
Several other hot spots dot the surrounding mesas and valleys. A two-hour drive south from Los Alamos lands visitors at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque. For those willing to venture even farther, Willis says, there is a remarkable site just south of town, a half mile west of the government-run Sandia National Lab, where in 1957 a bomber accidentally dropped a mammoth Mark-17 hydrogen bomb. “There’s a huge swath of debris, and anyone can go out there and look for stuff,” Willis says. Ever-so-slightly radioactive bits of white plastic, chunks of lead, and green-painted pieces of the bomb’s casing are among the most common finds.

Cooking with ScienceBrooklyn, New York, and other cities
Spanish chef Ferran Adrià made complex chemistry a star in the kitchen when he started molecular gastronomy, a culinary movement that uses sophisticated science to create imaginative dishes, such as foams made from solids like mushrooms and “spheres” of liquid that hold their shape. Cooking classes inspired by his ideas are now cropping up in major cities.

Devonian FossilsPetoskey, Michigan
Some 350 million years ago, Michigan lay under a shallow ocean in which coral, trilobites, and other marine life thrived. Today fossilized coral makes its way into Lake Michigan from Little Traverse Bay, near the northern tip of the state’s Lower Peninsula, where the ancient rock layer is exposed. Polished and smoothed by eons of roiling water and sand, these fossils—called Petoskey stones—are strewn along Lake Michigan’s shore. Collectors will have the most luck spotting the stones after summer windstorms, which reveal the long-buried 
treasures littering the shore.

FrogwatchAll across the United States
The American Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ FrogWatch program enlists amphibian fans from coast to coast to track local frog and toad species by identifying the animals’ mating calls. To distinguish the ribbits and croaks, 
volunteers take a short training course at one of 43 participating nature organizations across the country. Then they check in at 
designated posts at least twice a 
week during the breeding season to listen for the amphibians’ calls. Researchers use the data they submit to develop conservation strategies for the animals.

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QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE FOR SUMMER GETAWAYS

Grand Prismatic Spring—Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Visitor information for Yellowstone National Park, phone: (307) 344-7381

Further details on Fairy Falls Trail.

Sandstone Sojourns—Arches National Park, Utah
Visitor information for Arches National Park, phone: (435) 719-2299
Further details and online reservations for Fiery Furnace guided tour.

Fluorescent Minerals—Franklin and Ogdensburg, New Jersey
Ogdensburg’s Sterling Hill Mining Museum, phone: (973) 209-6463

Subterranean Winery—Napa, California
Jarvis Winery
Tour reservations and information, phone: (800) 255-5280 ext. 150

Transit of Venus—All of the U.S. (and most of the world)
Transit history, maps, viewing information, and more.
Astronomy magazine’s transit-viewing tour from the Big Island of Hawaii.

Volcanic Eruption—Montserrat, Lesser Antilles
Visitor information for Montserrat
Montserrat Volcano Observatory information

Swamp Tours—near New Orleans, Louisiana
Honey Island Swamp Tours information and reservations, phone: (985) 641-1769
Cajun Encounters swamp tour information and reservations, phone: (866) 928-6877

Retreating Ice—Glacier National Park, Montana
Visitor information for Glacier National Park, phone: (406) 888-7800

Scuba Spearhunting—Cozumel, Mexico
Del Mar Aquatics, phone: + 52 (987) 872 5949
Information for La Perlita, a Cozumel restaurant that serves lionfish dishes

Marine Safari—Catalina Island, California
Information on a variety of tours offered on Catalina Island

Salmon Spotting—Warm Springs Reservation, Oregon
Warm Springs National Hatchery, phone: (541) 553-1692
Information on other activities at Warm Springs Reservation, including kayaking, camping, and golf:

Atomic Artifacts—Bayo Canyon, New Mexico
History of Bayo Canyon from the Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management
The National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, phone: (505) 245-2137

Cooking with Science—Brooklyn, New York
The Brooklyn Kitchen class information and reservations, phone: (718) 389-2982
Sur La Table class information, including molecular gastronomy classes at some locations

Devonian Fossils—Petoskey, Michigan
Visitor information for Petoskey, Michigan, phone: (231) 347-4150
More information on what Petoskey stones are and how to identify them

Frogwatch—All across the U.S.
Further information on becoming a Frogwatch volunteer, including a list of training centers

Science Museum of Minnesota—St. Paul, Minnesota
Visitor information for the Science Museum of Minnesota, phone: (651) 221-9444

U.S. Space and Rocket Center—Huntsville, Alabama
Visitor information for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, phone: (800) 63-SPACE

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