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May 27, 2009

The Geek Atlas--New from O'Reilly Media: 128 Places Where Science & Technology Come Alive

Sebastopol, CA—The history of science is all around us, if you know where to look. And if you're a traveler who loves science, you'll definitely want to check out at a timely new resource from O'Reilly, The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science & Technology Come Alive ($29.99), by John Graham-Cumming. Arriving just in time for summer vacation planning, this unique travelers' guide covers 128 interesting destinations around the globe where major breakthroughs in science, mathematics, or technology occurred--or are happening now.

"Unfortunately, finding great scientific places to visit isn't as easy as finding homes of long-dead poets, painters, or writers," notes Graham-Cumming, a self-described wandering programmer. "This is a pity, because if there's one thing that makes science stand apart, it's the willingness of scientists to freely share what they do."

And unlike many travel books, this one is written for scientists. "In the technical descriptions, I've tried to simplify the science without dumbing it down to the point of using analogies and metaphors instead of actually describing ideas," writes Graham-Cumming. "So as you flip through the book, you'll see the sorts of pictures you'd find in a travel guide, but also a lot of diagrams and equations. (Any reader who doesn't want to deal with the equations can safely read the first part of each chapter.)

Each site in The Geek Atlas focuses on discoveries or inventions, and includes information about the people and the science behind them. Full of interesting photos and illustrations, the book is organized geographically by country (by state within the U.S.), and comes complete with latitudes and longitudes for GPS devices.

The destinations covered in The Geek Atlas include:

  • Bletchley Park in the UK, where the Enigma code was broken
  • The Alan Turing Memorial in Manchester, England
  • The Horn Antenna in New Jersey, where the Big Bang theory was confirmed
  • The National Cryptologic Museum in Fort Meade, Maryland
  • The Trinity Test Site in New Mexico, where the first atomic bomb was exploded
  • The Joint Genome Institute in Walnut Creek, California

Every site in this book has genuine scientific, mathematical, or technological interest--places guaranteed to make every geek's heart beat a little faster.

"One thing that I've been asked by reviewers again and again is to recommend one single must-see place. Picking one place is next to impossible--there's just so much great science out there--but I will admit to shedding a tear every time I see the Difference Engine at the Science Museum in London (Chapter 77)," writes Graham-Cumming. "It's mathematics in motion and arithmetic in action."

For a review copy or more information please email peyton@oreilly.com. Please include your delivery address and contact information.

John Graham-Cumming is a wandering programmer who's lived in the UK, California, New York and France. Along the way he's worked for a succession of technology start-ups, written the award-winning open source POPFile email program and churned out articles for publications such as The Guardian newspaper, Dr Dobbs, and Linux Magazine. He is the proud owner of a three-letter domain name where he hosts his web site: http://www.jgc.org.

Additional Resources:
For more information about the book, including table of contents, index, author bios, and cover graphic, see: http://www.oreilly.com/catalog/9780596523206

The Geek Atlas
John Graham-Cumming
ISBN: 9780596523206, 542 pages,
Book Price: $29.99 USD, £22.99 GBP
Ebook Price: $23.99 USD

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