MacDirectory Magazine

Summer-Fall 2009 (#42)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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Page 49 of 147

48 MacDirectory BOOK REVIEWS THE GEEK ATLAS > 128 PLACES WHERE SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY COME ALIVE You know you're a geek when you finally succumb to the desire to get away from it all only to discover that the thing you want most when you do is to get back to it. Simply put: vacationing can be difficult. John Graham-Cumming is offering one possible solution with The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science & Technology Come Alive. At first glance, the Atlas looks like just another travel guide; there are maps, little icons offering the standard kinds of information about cost and accessibility, photos and references pointing to where to find further information. There's also a wonderfully concise description of each destination, describing what you'll find there and their significance. And, if you're not quite up for a quick trip to Chernobyl, Ukraine, the author considerately provides geographical coordinates so you can preview the locales via a map or Google Earth. What makes the book so fascinating is that each of the 128 destinations includes a page or two explaining a bit of the science, technology or mathematical theory relating directly to the site. For example, if you're at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in Oregon, staring up at the Hughes H-4, the behemoth Spruce Goose, The author explains the concept of "ground effect," possibly the only thing that kept the plane airborne during its first and only flight. Graham-Cummings has narrowed his list of destinations to places you can actually visit. In the introduction, he notes, with some disappointment, that many of the most interesting locations in the US have been closed to the public due to recently implemented security policies. Others, like the Shockley Semiconductor in Mountain View, Calif., that, in 1958, built the product is claimed to be the source of the name "Silicon" Valley," is now nothing more than a large grocery store, though still on his list. But just a short hop north across the Bayshore Freeway you'll find the Computer History Museum. Their online archives at have a wealth of primary source documents, so if you're not up for a personal visit, you can still explore a good deal of history from the comfort of your laptop. The author admits that he has a profound fascination of mathematics (he has both a B.A. and M.A. from Oxford in Mathematics and Computation) and that is obvious in a number of entries. The commentaries on this subject sometimes border on the arcane, but offer the rest of us a glimpse of the beauty of numbers and formulas that excite a mathematician's passions. Whether this book motivates a search of your favorite travel booking site, gives you some alternative ideas when skulking about the typical tourist haunts, or simply lets you while away several enjoyable hours exploring the history of science and technology from the comfort of your home, Graham-Cumming's Geek Atlas will be a unique and useful addition to your technology bookshelf. The Geek Atlas: 128 Places Where Science & Technology Come Alive by John Graham-Cumming; $29.99, O'Reilly (; 524 pgs. ISBN 978-0-596-52320-6 REVIEW BY RIC GETTER

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