John Graham-Cumming's The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive is a geek initiation in 505 pages. Identifying 128 sites of nerdy interest (with strong clusters in the UK and US), the Atlas could also be called 2^7 places to go and have your mind blown before you die.
From Charles Babbage's pickled brain (Royal College of Surgeons Hunterian Museum, London) to the lockpickers' paradise at the John M Mossman Lock Collection in NYC to place to see the prime-number-oriented magicicadas spawn to the Magnetic North Pole, the Atlas covers a gamut from the historical to the wondrous. It even takes note of some of my local haunts, including the wonderful, solemn and beautiful Bunhill Cemetery, resting place of Thomas "Bayesian filtering" Bayes and his patron, Richard Price, the inventor of actuary. It does a particularly good job on Bletchley Park, site of Alan Turing and co's codebreaking efforts during WWII (part of the proceeds from each Atlas sold go to fund restoration efforts at Bletchley, which is sadly neglected by the British government).
Each site in the Atlas is accompanied by a sprightly and well-explained lesson in history, science and technology, from the functioning of diesel, two-stroke and four-stroke engines to the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum theory to the way that antibiotics work to the basis for the Davy lamp.
Whether you're off on a trip or just want to do some armchair exploring and learning, the Geek Atlas is a wonderful piece of reading, and an education besides.
The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science and Technology Come Alive (Amazon)
The Geek Atlas (author's site)
Publisher of Geek's Atlas to help save Bletchley Park
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