Geek's Guide to the Extreme: Off the Beaten Path Edition
Transparent Factory, Dresden, Germany
This futuristic Volkswagen factory, comprised of nearly all-glass walls, Canadian maple floors and ultra-efficient mechanics celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Its visitor-friendly layout was designed to accommodate up to 250 tourists per day.
Very Large Array, Socorro, N.M.
Get your deep space nerd on at this radio astronomy facility, which consists of 27 independent antennas, each 82 feet in diameter and weighing 209 metric tons. The site is open to visitors year-round during daylight hours and offers guided tours.
Battleship Island, Gunkanjima, Japan
Populated from 1887 to 1974 as a coal-mining site, this island city has since closed down, becoming a skeletal ghost town and anthropologists' dream site, thanks to the large (mostly-intact) worker housing complex. Photo credit: Jordy Theiller
CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
The European Organization for Nuclear Research is home to the Large Hadron Collider and facilities open to the public, like the Globe of Science and Innovation, which opened in late 2005 and is used four times a week for special exhibits.Photo credit: Adam Nieman
Pyongyang, North Korea
Shrouded in mystery, this city of 3.2 million people is the country's capital. It isn't easy to get into, but visitors get a glimpse of crazy, futuristic white elephants like the 105-floor pyramid-shaped Ryugyong Hotel, finally nearing completion after 25 years. Photo credit: Pocketchef
Bikini Lagoon, Bikini Atoll
The lagoon at Bikini was designated as a ship graveyard after World War II by the United States Navy, and to this day, divers can explore the Japanese battleship Nagato, the USS Saratoga and many others. Just bring your Geiger counter.Photo credit: Pete Mesley
Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norway
Located approximately 810 miles from the North Pole, the facility preserves a wide variety of plant seeds in an underground cavern. The roof and vault entrance are filled with highly reflective stainless steel, mirrors, and prisms, while the vault itself is buried 390 feet into a mountain. Photo credit: Mari Tefry
Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica
This American scientific research station at the Geographic South Pole, the southernmost place on Earth, is located on the high plateau of Antarctica, some 9,300 feet above sea level.
Vulcan, Alberta, Canada
Thanks to Star Trek enthusiasts, this tiny town of grain elevators is now an international destination for Vulcan fans. Visitors can check out various facilities, including a tourist center and a bust of Mr. Spock. Your editor has been there, and it is truly bizarre.
Teufelsberg, Berlin, Germany
This 377-foot-high artificial mountain, built after World War II with the rubble of a shattered Berlin, was home to a U.S. National Security Agency listening station. Today, tourists can explore the eerie, dilapidated remains of the site. Photo credit: Piotr Tysarczyk