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Nerdy New Mexico: Voyage through the Land of Engeekment

Welcome to Nerdy New Mexico. CNET Crave blogger Amanda Kooser hits the road to track down a space chimp, the site of the first atomic bomb explosion, and a little place in the mountains called the Black Hole.

Fat Man bomb replica
Technology developed in Los Alamos, N.M., went into the Fat Man atomic bomb. This replica is at the Bradbury Science Museum.
Amanda Kooser/CNET

Yes, New Mexico is one of the 50 states. No, it's not just a big desert. Yes, it's the birthplace of the atomic bomb. No, our cacti don't have surrender arms (that's Arizona). Yes, Microsoft was founded here.

Over the next two weeks, I'm going to cram all my gadgets into a Prius (unfortunately, the DeSoto is in need of radiator repair) and run around the Land of Enchantment, soaking up all the geeky sights I can find.

I'll be delving into the history of telephones in Albuquerque. Tinkertown, a paradise of miniature handmade animatronic Western scenes and oddball ephemera, awaits in the nearby Sandia Mountains.

Many people already know about the Very Large Array, a collection of massive dishes on rails, but New Mexico also has a National Solar Observatory situated at an altitude of more than 9,000 feet. What does a solar observatory look like? I have no idea, but I'm going to find out.

If all goes according to plan, I'll be stopping in at Spaceport America during the second week. Maybe I'll catch a glimpse of Richard Branson floating in free fall. Speaking of space, Ham the Astrochimp is buried not too far away from there. I'll make a pilgrimage.

Nerdy New Mexico kicks off on Monday with a look at Trinity Site, the location of the first atomic bomb explosion back in 1945. Yes, New Mexico is full of geekery. No, you don't need a passport to visit.