Top ten geek holiday destinations
We take you on a guided tour of the planet's greatest holiday destinations for geeks, as seen on Google Earth. We'll show you where Apple hand-built its first machines and even where the Enigma code was broken
Location: Jodrell Bank, Cheshire, UK
Reason to visit: Gargantuan radio telescpope
Jodrell Bank is an observatory in Cheshire, England. The large radio telescope you see before you is the third largest of its kind in the world, and is named the Lovell Telescope after the late Sir Bernard Lovell, a physicist and radio astronomer who was director of the observatory from 1945 to 1980.
The Lovell Telescope is part of a large array spanning Britain that combines the power of many telescopes to more accurately survey the night sky.
Jodrell Bank has contributed research towards the study of Cosmic Background Radiation, and twice appeared in the Douglas Adams classics, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy.
Note: You need to have Google Earth installed for the Google Earth links to work. Click on the link below to download it for free.
Location: Brentwood School, Essex, UK
Reason to visit: Douglas Adams' school
Brentwood School in Essex, England, was the educational juggernaut behind the aforementioned Douglas Adams. Adams attended the school until 1970, when he went on to St John's College, Cambridge.
True Hitchhiker's fans should consider plotting a pilgrimage to Brentwood. Jodie Marsh also attended this school, although this may be of less interest.
Location: Kennedy Space Center, Florida, USA
Reason to visit: Because it's a bloody spaceport
Almost 20,000 people keep the Kennedy Space Center running, including the staff that peddle hats and whatnot in the visitor centres. Believe it or not, the spaceport is also a wildlife sanctuary.
According to Wikipedia, the Space Center receives more lightning strikes than any other place in the US. NASA spends millions of dollars in an effort to prevent strikes during launch.
The primary use of the Space Center is as launch pad for the NASA Space Shuttle, which was first thrown into space on a big tube of exploding petrol in 1981. Its next launch is very specifically scheduled for 11.38am EDT on 23 October.
Location: Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, UK
Reason to visit: German Enigma code was cracked here during WWII
During World War II, the British mathematicians and code experts at Bletchley Park, near what's now Milton Keynes, worked tirelessly to successfully crack the pesky German Enigma code, which was vital in defeating German U-boats in the Atlantic. Think Google Code Jam, only with lives depending on it.
Station X, as the Park was known at the time, was the main code-breaking establishment in Britain.
Now a museum dedicated to the code-breakers that once operated there, Bletchley Park sits as an interactive memorial to the efforts of heroic would-be Google employees.
Last year, the original machine that helped crack the complex German code was restored to working order. Google is rumoured to be interested in buying the mechanical algorithm. Also Microsoft.
Location: 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, California
Reason to visit: Apple hand-built its first computers in this house's garage
This may look like a blurry photo of a residential estate. You'd be correct in assuming this, because it is. But it's also the birthplace of Apple Computer.
In this house -- well, the garage -- the first Apple computers were hand-built by Steve Jobs and his able friends. In this humble carport, the company now responsible for the Mac, the world's leading music player and a phone so desirable people risked pneumonia to get one, built its machines from wood.
For any Apple fan, stopping by 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos, California, and taking a privacy-respecting photograph should be a priority.
Location: Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico
Reason to visit: World's largest radio telescope
The Arecibo Observatory sits in Puerto Rico and is operated by Cornell University. This 300m radio telescope is the largest of its kind in the world, and now contributes findings towards the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence project, more commonly known as SETI.
The Arecibo telescope is built inside a naturally formed sinkhole in the Puerto Rican landscape. Space geeks should consider this one of the most important landmarks in the world to visit, not only for its sheer size, but also because of how fun it is to slide down (see GoldenEye for more details).
Location: CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
Reason to visit: World Wide Web was created here, among other things
This, ladies and gentlenerds, is CERN -- the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (the European Council for Nuclear Research).
Though CERN is a research centre that specialises in uncovering the secrets of the universe we live in using particle accelerators -- half the world's particle physics community works on experiments conducted there -- it was also the birth-place of the World Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau created the foundations of the Web when Berners-Lee was working at CERN as an independent contractor, in the late 80s and early 90s.
Only certain parts of the complex are open to the public. But visiting the birth-place of one of the most important products of modern computer science should be a first port of call to anyone who appreciates the wonder of what is now the Internet.
Location: Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan
Reason to visit: Awesomely geeky Japanese shopping district
Akihabara in Tokyo, Japan has to be one of the most amazing and geekiest places on our planet. The huge shopping district sells every kind of electronic product you could ever imagine, alongside unbelievable quantities of manga and anime.
The social culture that blooms in Akihabara binds those who would be considered outcasts in other areas of the country. They can meet here, read manga together, discuss their lifestyles and be a part of something unique.
The bright lights and vivid decorations in this district of Japan are not to be confused with Las Vegas's hotels and neon signs; Akihabara is a completely different experience, offering a lifestyle adored by its inhabitants and visitors.
Location: Chernobyl, Ukraine
Reason to visit: Abandoned radioactive city
The abandoned city in northern Ukraine played host to one of the biggest unnatural disasters of the 20th century, with repercussions still visible today. On 26 April 1986, a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, spewing radioactive fallout over a vast area and leading to the resettlement of over 300,000 people.
The now deserted city of Chernobyl remains in a state of disrepair and dereliction. Contrary to popular belief, there are no known mutations of plant or animal life. The city is now artistically documented in the works of many photographers.
Location: Einstein's old flat, Bern, Switzerland
Reason to visit: The dude corrected Newton, come on!
Albert Einstein is of course most famous for his theories of relativity; the theories that instil an understanding of time and space into the minds of intellectuals and laymen alike. Einstein challenged Isaac Newton's physical laws that had stood as scientific fact for centuries.
It was in this street, on the second floor of Kramgasse No. 49, Bern, that Einstein penned his first theories that went on to overhaul how we understand the universe.
Whether or not you consider yourself a geek, an intellectual, a closet astrophysicist or repressed would-be professor; if you've ever appreciated how the world keeps turning or how travelling close to the speed of light makes time slow down, you should drop by Einstein's bijou bachelor pad.