Introducing the Atlas Obscura

Joshua Foer is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Joshua is a freelance science journalist and the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura: A Compendium of the World's Wonders, Curiosities, and Esoterica, with Dylan Thuras.

Thanks so much, Mark, for that introduction. We're thrilled that you guys have lent us the keys to Boing Boing for the next few days.

atlasobscuralogo.gifI'd like to tell Boing Boing's readers a little bit about the new web site that Dylan and I have launched, the Atlas Obscura.

The Atlas is a collaborative project whose purpose is to catalog all of the "wondrous, curious, and esoteric places" that get left out of traditional travel guidebooks and are ignored by the average tourist.

Anyone can enter new places into the Atlas Obscura, or edit content that someone else has already contributed. We're counting on you, Boing Boing readers, to help us fill out the map and document all of the world's wonders and curiosities!

What kind of places are we talking about? Here are a few that were recently added to the Atlas:

- A hidden spot in the Smoky Mountains where you can find fireflies that blink in unison

-A 70-year-old house made entirely out of paper

- A giant hole in the middle of the Turkmenistan desert that's been burning for four decades

- A Czech church built of bones

- The world's largest Tesla coil

- A museum filled with the genitals of every known mammal in Iceland

- Enormous concrete sound mirrors once used to detect aircraft off the English coast

- The self-built cathedral of an eccentric Spanish ex-monk

- A museum of Victorian hair art in Independence, Missiouri

- An underwater sculpture garden off the coast of Grenada

- Galileo's amputated middle finger

- An island in the Canaries where people communicate by whistling

- The corpse of a 14th-cenutry Japanese monk who mummified himself while he was still alive

Dylan and I are hopeful that we if can get a bunch of like-minded travelers (and armchair travelers) to share their obscure knowledge, we can build a truly awesome resource for everyone. So, please check the site out! Explore! Get involved! Add a curious place!

First, though, a quick caveat: The site is still very much in beta. We're still adding features, making improvements, and sussing out bugs. So please let us know what works and what doesn't.

Now, before handing the mic over to Dylan, I'd like to take a moment to abuse this very big soapbox by giving a quick shout out to the Atlas Obscura's amazing developer Adam Varga of Sawhorse Media, our genius fix-it guru Boaz Sender, and our slick designer Aaron Taylor Waldman. Thanks gentlemen!