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Scientific tourism?

I'm adding a new category of posts: "science tourism." This includes traveling for ecotourism or to visit science museums. Volunteering to help on a research project (perhaps through Earthwatch) or going to a scientific meeting (particularly one outside one's own specialty, if you're a scientist) are also science tourism.

Here are a few examples of science tourism (or scientific tourism) I've enjoyed.

Musée des Arts et Métiers, Paris. I was in Paris to speak to a meeting of plant breeders focused on organic farming. The museum includes Focault's original pendulum and is a major setting for Umberto Eco's book by that name. But it also includes Focault's less-known demonstration of the earth's rotation: a gyroscope with a microscope to detect the tiny apparent shift in its plane of rotation during its 10-minute spin time, as the earth turns around it. Also an example of the pre-Morse shutter-based "telegraphs" mentioned in The Count of Monte Cristo, looms controlled by player-piano-like paper rolls, a hand-cranked machine for making metal files, the apparatus Lavosier used to weigh hydrogen and oxygen before combining them into water, etc. My wife and I ended up spending all day there.

Heron Island, on the Great Barrier Reef. I was there for the Applied Evolution Summit, but got to snorkel on the reef during afternoon breaks. I wrote about this already and linked to a video that summarizes some themes from the meeting but also includes lots of nice wildlife shots. I'm guessing the resort on the island is quite expensive, but the food there is good. I stayed at the research station, which is mentioned in Arthur C. Clarke's The Deep Range.

Tech Museum in San Jose, California. I was in town for the Ecological Society of America meetings, in 2007. They had a hands-on lab exercise to transform bacteria, adding a gene that made them fluorescent. I just followed the instructions ("first, take the rack of red tubes out of the refrigerator"), which ended with putting a plate of transformed bacteria in an incubator. Some staff person took the plates out after the bacteria grew up, then put pictures up on the web, so you could see if the transformation worked.

What's your favorite destination for science tourism?


My favorite is more of a tour - visit all the Archaeopteryx specimens (well, except for Maxburg). Not only are the Archaeopteryxes (Archaeopterices? What is the plural?) important and generally well displayed, the museums that house them are quite varied and each is interesting in its own right. Plus you get to go to a lot of cool cities in the process.

Cool idea! Which museums?

Great post

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