scientific research takes place at "observatories,"
which are havens for science. The locations we visited represent
a wide array of scientific environments, each one different
from the other. What binds them together is the role they
play as hubs of scientific pursuit.
Some observatories are created to serve an instrument. At
CERN, the boundaries of the observatory are defined by the
particle accelerator, an
that those boundaries even cross an international border.
photo tour of the
Hubble Space Telescope’s Mission Control
that while there’s a wide variety of labs and activities,
all are devoted to collecting and disseminating information
from the telescope.
In other places, researchers have set up camp in naturally
existing environments that provide them with unique opportunities.
In Antarctica, for example, the harsh conditions produce organisms
with unusual adaptations—such as
scientists clues to the process of evolution. The
forest of Belize
is a field biologist’s
dream, with one of the most diverse ecosystems on earth.
Each of the locations we visited displays, in some way, a
history of science and human curiosity. In Antarctica, the
story begins with the
of explorers, scientists, and traders simply trying to reach
, and continues as
an experiment in
international scientific cooperation
the Natural History Museum in London, modern tools such as
build on the
knowledge obtained over hundreds of years from
collections of specimens
for study. The legacy of Barbara McClintock’s genetics
research is embedded in the very landscape of Cold Spring
Harbor, which includes the
where research on her Nobel-winning
corn hybrids continues today.
This environment of science goes beyond
the physical, and becomes a culture within each of the observatories.
Cold Spring Harbor
buzz with research
talk during conferences,
has its own rock band
is an experience that
bonds the few who share it. While it’s the science that
brings most researchers to these locations, perhaps it’s
the camaraderie that keeps them coming back.