The Geek Atlas: terrific tech shrines that every geek should see

This new book outlines the best places in the world for nerds and geeks to visit before they die. We selected some favorite places, including the HP Garage, the MIT Museum, and da Vinci's last home.

MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts

It should come as no surprise that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has a museum, and a good one at that.

The major exhibitions at the MIT Museum cover robotics and artificial intelligence, holography, the work of Harold Edgerton, and the education that students receive at MIT. The museum also contains an exhibition of kinetic sculptures, a hands-on lab focused on DNA, and a collection of model ships.

MIT is well known as a center for robotics and artificial intelligence, and the museum doesn't disappoint in that respect. Many robots are on display, including Kismet (shown above), a robot that can make realistic facial expressions.

The holography collection is simply the best in the world. You'll find an entire gallery of holograms to look at, including some (such as a woman blowing a kiss) that change as you move around them, and one featuring the artist Keith Haring. The complete hologram exhibit is also available online at the museum's Web site, but to see the items properly you have to go there.

Harold Edgerton's photographs and films, made using a stroboscope for very high-speed photography, are the most important part of the MIT Museum collection. With the strobe lights, his photography was able to stop the wings of a hummingbird in flight, study the motion of a golfer's swing, and capture a single drop of milk creating a splash. Even the pattern of smoke around a turbine blade is revealed.

Photo courtesy of the MIT Museum (photo by Sam Ogden).

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