Science test city to be built in New Mexico desert

A "scientific ghost town", equipped to research everything from traffic patterns to renewable energy, is to be built in the desert near Hobbs, N.M.

The real-life Science Enrichment Center will create hundreds of jobs, but have no residents of its own. Intended as a scale model of a "typical American town of 35,000", it will be a high-tech mirror to its host. Hobbs beat Las Cruces to host the $1bn experiment, the latest in a series of economic wins for the energy-rich region near the Texas border.

Pegasus Global Holdings, the firm behind the planned installation, says it will also be used to develop "homeland security" testing areas and to text next-gen cellular networks.

No word on whether cake will be served, or how frequently.

CITE Design [Center for Innovation Testing and Evaluation]

P.S. I used to live in Hobbs, and there were always wild things like this being planned. One was to construct a gigantic reservoir, several kilometers long, from the wastewater discarded by the local energy industry. Already near town is the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, a nuclear waste dump that will eventually be topped by bizarre, scary sculptures and the following warning to any future civilizations that might chance upon it.

This place is not a place of honor.
No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here.
Nothing valued is here.
This place is a message and part of a system of messages.
Pay attention to it!
Sending this message was important to us.
We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture.

Now I will forever hear it in a certain robotic female voice.

P.P.S. a former Hobbs police chief once told me that nearby Eunice, N.M., was the "state capital of weird sex."

UDPATE: From the archives, following are designs for the proposed nuclear deadzone warning sculptures. Here's the official government PDF describing the requirements, itself an incredible read.


  1. Did you catch the short story in the PDF describing future miners coming across one of the markers?

    1. Oh, that’s not the PDF, you should link the the one JWZ linked to awhile back, it contained many different proposals for warning systems (I remember seeing the included illustrations in there) – it’s much longer and is truly a fascinating read. How do you warn people of radiation danger when they may not share language or cultural reference points with you? How do you convince them that you’re not trying to protect buried treasure? 

  2.  Video preview absolutely looks like Racoon City. Combine with buried nuclear waste and hey presto, movie plot!

  3. Amazing pictures at the bottom.  I feel like I saw them somewhere on discovery channel or Nat Geo a few years ago, but wow, that would be an interesting design project.

  4. Notice how they cleverly omitted the 50-story-deep underground bio-isolation facility with the holding cells at the bottom for the mutants.   No government research facility in the desert in New Mexico is complete without one.

  5. I like this story, except for the part about it going to Hobbs over Las Cruces. In Hobbs, if you want to buy something you can’t buy at Walmart or to eat somewhere that doesn’t have a drive-thru, then you are pretty much stuck driving ~100 mi to Lubbock. Las Cruces is a bustling metropolis by comparison.

    1. Good place to buy an RV, though. My family bought a triple-axle Avion (similar to Airstream) in Hobbs in the early ’80s, both the dealership and the  trailer are still doing well. We took it to the Yearly Friends Meeting  back when that was still being held at Ghost Ranch, great memories. (You’ll have seen the landscape in many movies and Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings, but in person it’s far more wonderful. Well worth a visit if you’re passing through the region, or making a special trip if you have a week.)

      Edit: Intermountain Yearly Meeting is still held at Ghost Ranch.

      1. I’ve been to Ghost Ranch and I agree, it is quite scenic. Actually, most of New Mexico is quite scenic… except for the part close to the TX panhandle, which is okay if you like tumbleweeds.

        1. “…except for the part close to the TX panhandle…”
          Yeah, and that’s Hobbs, Carlsbad, Clovis, Roswell and  what I like to call: “metropolitan Jal, gateway to Kermit and Wink”.  If you find yourself in eastern NM, try to stick it out another 150 miles and get to Ruidoso/Cloudcoft, or Taos if you’re up north.

  6. Of course, the problem with making an area scary and foreboding to keep people away doesn’t really help when there are always people in any society that actively seek out such places. (for black metal gigs, obviously)

  7. I second the comments about the underground facilities, and the Umbrella Corporation. I would add the following questions:
    1. Do they have a failsafe nuclear cleansing protocol, with easily accessible stand-down controls?
    2. Have they developed an artificially intelligent research assistant and disk operating system?
    3. Are there manual door opening overrides?

  8. As an antinuclear activist in Santa Fe in the 1990s, I testified against opening WIPP. This is from my recently completed memoir (now with my agent):

    “The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, NM, which we activists strenuously opposed, has opened and stores radioactive waste in what I recall a geologist describing as unstable salt caves that may in future leak nuclear waste into the Rio Grande water table and make a vast area uninhabitable for 250,000 years. That nuclear waste is transported to WIPP onroads throughout the lower forty-eight states, in containers that (I once read) may fall apart in a bad accident and render a vast area around the accident uninhabitable for 250,000 years.”

    1. As I recall, all they store there is low-level waste such as the coats worn by nuclear scientists. The whole thing seemed ridiculous to me: all that effort and it’s really a trial run for a real deal that gets built elsewhere.

  9. (re: the video) And what, exactly, is the rationale behind putting “operations center” in a giant underground bunker? One not involving mutants, aliens, deadly viruses, killer nanotech nor radioactive weapons, I mean…

  10.  “This is not a place of honor.” That little paragraph reads like a nuclear-age “Ozymandias.”

  11. I found and read that pdf years ago and I was blown away by the main question it poses; How do you tell someone, who quite possibly doesn’t share you language, culture or has any knowledge about our history, about what is hidden underneath this place? How do you do it without increasing their curiosity? How do you keep telling a story for 200.000 years? 

    Edit: Ah, I see signsofrain has already pointed out what I didn’t bother to check before posting, wrong pdf. Here it is:

    quote: Before one can communicate with future societies about the location and dangers of the wastes, it is important to consider with whom one is trying to communicate.

  12. There is a documentary movie called Into Eternity about Onkalo Waste Repository, dealing with the spooky and  facinating task of creating stuctures designed to trancend culture, time and species. Enjoy it here:

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