For all the lovers of science and invention, here are some laboratories and houses of mad science that are worth a visit:
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif.
JPL is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center managed by Caltech. The lab builds planetary spacecraft and operates astronomical missions such as Curiosity from onsite; a hotbed of invention and discovery. These 2- to 2.5-hour tours include a visit to the Mission Control room and a stop in the Clean Room, a hangar-like space where technicians dressed in bunny suits assemble robot vehicles in an environment free from dust or other contaminants.
Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos N.M.
In the early 1940s scientists from around the world descended on Los Alamos, N.M., to work on the top-secret atomic bomb project. Today, Los Alamos National Laboratory is home to the Bradbury Science Museum, which highlights the history of Los Alamos Lab, its national security mission, and its current research in energy, computing, and defense research. Inside the galleries, check out the replicas of Little Boy and Fat Man, the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.
Biosphere 2, Tuscon, Ariz.
Initially designed to imitate Earth and create an enclosed, self-sustaining world, Biosphere 2 was a mini world about a half-hour outside of Tucson filled with mangrove wetlands, savannah grassland, fog desert, and a 20,000-plus-square-foot rain forest, encased behind 7,200,000 cubic feet of glass and atop a 500-ton welded stainless-steel liner.
Now owned by the University of Arizona and operated as a research facility for the school’s own projects, Biosphere 2 attracts tons of visitors. Guided walking tours include the campus’s biomes, as well as its Technosphere, a 3.14-acre basement housing all the electrical, plumping, and mechanical systems that help the Biosphere to “breathe.”