Science tourism is a travel topic grouping scientific attractions. It covers interests in visiting and exploring scientific landmarks, including museums, laboratories, observatories and universities.
For the museum sites, check the relevant opening hours and entry fees, where applicable. As many of the listed laboratories have ongoing scientific research, you need a scientific reason to visit a laboratory. Hence you must plan in advance and check for the days were there are special public access opportunities. Observatories are usually open to the public and have tours showcasing their astronomical research.
Most university campuses are open to the general public, though access to the buildings is typically restricted to students and staff. Some universities, however, may have an on-site science museum for the public to view their most significant findings.
Historically, most European scientists had published their findings in Latin. However, this began to change during the Enlightenment, when German, French and English emerged as the main scientific languages. However, German lost its prestige after Germany’s defeat in World War I, and French gradually lost its prestige after the collapse of the French colonial empire and French global power following World War II. During the Cold War, Russian emerged as one of the main scientific languages, but also lost its significance following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Since then, virtually all significant scientific findings have been published in English, and even non-English-speaking countries tend to produce more scientific publications in English that in their native languages. As such, all reputable scientists will generally have at least some command of English, even if English is otherwise not widely spoken in their respective countries.
Publications, conferences and seminars
Scientific findings are generally published in the form of peer-reviewed journal articles, and these are the benchmark through which most scientists are judged when applying for jobs, while PhD students in the sciences are generally required to publish these in order to graduate. The most prestigious journals are Science and Nature, which publish weekly and cover the full range of scientific disciplines, as well as Cell, which publishes twice a month and specialises in the life sciences. Publication in the aforementioned journals is extremely competitive and difficult, and outside the top American and British universities, most scientists go through their entire careers without ever publishing in one of these. That said, there have also been cases of scientists winning Nobel prizes despite publishing in much less prestigious journals. Collections of these journals are held in many university libraries. While you can in theory pay for subscriptions to one or more of these journals, most of the research articles go into too much technical jargon to be comprehensible to the general public. That said, both Science and Nature publish news andorial articles that are written in a form that is much easier for people without specialist knowledge to understand.
As an alternative to reading scientific journals, consider reading scientific magazines. These typically take the latest and most important findings and distill them into a form that is more comprehensible to the general public. Examples of such magazines include New Scientist and Scientific American.
Scientists also often travel to conferences in order to present their work in person and network with fellow scientists from around the world. Conferences are often tailored towards a very specific scientific discipline. While these are in theory open to anyone who is willing to pay the conference registration fee, the presentations and discussions usually go into so much technical detail and jargon that they would be virtually incomprehensible to somebody without specialist training.
An alternative to going to a conference is to attend a public lecture, in which leading scientists are sometimes asked to present their work in a form that is more accessible to the general public. Universities often also host scientists to give a seminar, and while often open to the general public, these are generally targeted towards fellow scientists in the same broad area of specialisation, and would be difficult for people without specialist training to understand.
Nobel Museum, Nobelmuseet Stortorget 2, Stockholm/Gamla Stan, Sweden, ☏ +46 8 534 818 00, ✉ email@example.com. It has exhibitions about the Nobel Prize.
Sweden Solar System in greater Stockholm, contains the world’s largest scale model of the Solar System.
Heureka, Kuninkaalantie 7 (Near Tikkurila railway station). M-W Th 10:00-20:00, F 10:00-5PM, Sa Su 10:00-18:00. Heureka in Vantaa is an interactive science museum, with different kinds of exhibitions about technology, physics, chemistry, medicine, astronomy and so on. Really exciting for children interested in science. Adult €19; children (6-15) €12.50.
Peenemünde (Historisch-Technisches Museum Peenemünde), Im Kraftwerk, Peenemünde, ☏ +49 38371-505-0, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Apr-Sep: 10:00-18:00, Oct-Mar: 10:00-16:00, open daily (Nov-Mar: Mon closed). A place where the Germans developed some of the world’s first rockets before and during World War II. Regular €8, discount €5.
Marie Curie Museum, ul. Freta 16, 00-227 Warszawa, Poland, ☏ +48 22 831 80 92, ✉ email@example.com. History of radioactivity.
Auto & Technik Museum (Signposted from exits 33 or 34 on the A6 Autobahn.). open daily. In Sinsheim, Baden-Württemberg (southwestern Germany). Has interesting displays of many vintage and historic cars, motorcycles, other machinery, and an extensive collection of aircraft, including a Soviet Tu 144 and French/Britain Concorde.
Deutsches Museum (German Museum of Masterpieces of Science and Technology), Museumsinsel 1 (S-bahn station Isartor, then follow signs, alternatively U-bahn Fraunhoferstrasse Tram 16: Deutsches Museum), ☏ +49 89 21791, fax: +49 89 2179324, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 09:00-17:00. Probably the closest anybody is ever going to get to a “museum of everything” or at least a museum of “everything technology” and a whole lot more. One of the greatest scientific and technical museums in the world, it is one of the most important sights in the area and absolute “must see’s” of Munich, visited by roughly 1.5 million visitors per year. Topics range from aviation to brewing, from computer sciences to bridge building. There are many guided tours on specific themes and in different languages. There is a planetarium and two branch offices in other locations, which show vehicles that found no place in downtown Munich. Adults €8.50, concessions €3.
The city of Friedrichshafen offers a museum dedicated to zeppelins and another to Dornier aircraft.
Science Museum London (South Kensington), ☏ +44 870 870 4868.
The Down House, Luxted Road, Downe, Kent, BR6 7JT, England, ☏ +44 1689 859119. Opening hours vary according seasons, on open days 10:00-16:00. This place is unique piece in the history of science as the theory of evolution by natural selection got worked out here. A visit of the home of the English naturalist Charles Darwin allows glimpses in his life. Darwin wrote ‘On the Origin of Species’ in this house. The house has also carnivorous plants and exotic orchids. adults £10.00, children £6.00, concessions £9.00.
James Clerk Maxwell’s Birthplace and Museum, 14 India Street, Edinburgh, EH3 6EZ, UK. The house in which James Clerk Maxwell was born is open to visitors by appointment. Visits for up to twelve people are conducted by volunteers and take approximately 1 hour, but please note that there are four steps up to the main door. Tour appointments are normally available M-F 10:00 – 12:30, and 14:30 – 17:00. Edinburgh’s answer to Newton and Einstein. His equations unified the forces of Electricity and Magnetism and paved the way for Einstein’s theory of special relativity. From the website “Modern technology, in large part, stems from his grasp of the basic principles of the universe. Wide ranging developments in the field of electricity and electronics, including radio, television, radar and communications, derive from Maxwell’s discovery of the laws of the electromagnetic field – which was not a synthesis of what was known before, but rather a fundamental change in concept that departed from Newton’s view and was to influence greatly the modern scientific and industrial revolution.” #nerdcator Free, donations welcome.
Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology (Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia), S.Vittore Street, Milan, Italy (reachable by bus or subway, line MM2 Sant’Ambrogio Station), ✉ email@example.com. Hosted in a former monastery, San Vittore al Corpo.
South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.
In the outskirts of Moscow there are a couple of sites dedicated to the Soviet and Russian contributions to science and technology. These include the Memorial Museum of Astronautics, the All-Russia Exhibition Centre and the Monument to the Conquerors of Space. While you’re there, check out the 540-m-high concrete transmission tower, Ostankino Tower.
Akademgorodok. Out in the Siberian taiga near Novosibirsk, Akademgorodok (literally “academy town”) was built during the Soviet era, so that the academic elite could conduct their research in relative freedom, prosperity, and isolation. The planned city with tree lined streets hosts several museums, institutes, as well as a beach on the Ob Sea, an artificial reservoir.
Exploratorium, San Francisco.
Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. The launch site for NASA’s space missions. All 12 people who have traveled to the Moon so far have started their journeys from here.
National Museum of Mathematics in New York (Momath).
Space Center Houston in Webster, Texas. NASA space museum, plus tram tours of Johnson Space Center, including astronaut training facilities, Mission Control, and the actual Apollo and Mercury launch vehicles.
National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton. The largest aviation museum in the world in the hometown of the Wright Brothers. Has historical experimental aircraft and missiles.
Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta Ohio. A museum in the hometown of Neil Armstrong that hosts Apollo 11 artifacts and Moon rocks.
The Henry Ford. A museum containing artifacts and prototypes from figures including Buckminster Fuller, The Wright Brothers,Igor Sikorsky, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.
Field Museum of Natural History. Has rare finds in geology and paleontology, and operates labs related to paleontology.
National Cryptologic Museum. A museum dedicated to the history of cryptology.
Living Computers: Museum + Labs. A museum of computing history.
National Air and Space Museum (NASM). Houses the Apollo 11 Command Module (First manned moon mission), Bell X1 (First plane to reach mach 1), SpaceShipOne (First manned private spacecraft), and the Spirit of St. Louis (First nonstop transatlantic flight)
Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo (If walking, follow the signs from Darling Harbour near the Exhibition Centre. If driving, access via Harris St), ☏ +61 2 9217 0111. 10:00-17:00 daily. The Powerhouse Museum is a large museum, essentially of popular culture. It has displays on the history of fashion and transport, decorative arts, music, and space exploration exhibits. It also partly plays on a sci-tech theme, with interactive hands-on and discovery displays of technology, design and industry There is usually a special exhibition on as well. There are in-depth displays for all ages, but also displays especially created for young children to discover and play. $10 adults, $5 children.
Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre), King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Canberra, ☏ +61 2 6270-2800, toll-free: 1800 020 603. 09:00-17:00. Questacon is an interactive museum of science with exhibits illustrating scientific ideas from the principles of physics to the motion of an earthquake. Great for kids and excellent science books can be picked up here. Allow at least half a day. $15.50 adults, $10.50 concessions, $9 children, and $46 for a family of 2 adults and 3 children.
Alcântara, in Northeast Brazil, is the rocket launch site for the Brazilian Space Agency, and hosts a museum on the site
Kourou in French Guyana hosts the Guyana Space Centre, the primary rocket launch site for the European Space Agency.
Bogotá in Colombia, has some of the most interesting museums, Gold Museum, and The Archeology Museum: Casa Marqués de San Jorge.
National Museum of Nature and Science Japan.
National Museum of Ethnology Japan.
Tanegashima Space Center (TNSC). The location where JAXA launches their rockets.
National Science Museum South Korea. National Science Museum,
Pusat Sains Negara Malaysia (National Science Centre).
National Science Centre, Delhi.
China Science and Technology Museum.
National Science Museum Thailand.
Bandung Geological Museum Indonesia. Museum with a focus on meteorites.
National Science and Technology Museum Taiwan (NSTM).
Baikonur Cosmodrome Kazakhstan. The spaceport that launched Yuri Gagarin into space. Still operational today for Roscosmos.
The Mind Museum Philippines.
Many European countries participate on the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which has his laboratories including the famous Large Hadron Collider on the French/Swiss border. Plus the bigger European countries like France, Germany, Italy and UK operate national laboratories. Most laboratories have open days for public visits.
Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA). The CEA has 5 divisions: nuclear energy, technological research, life sciences, sciences of matter and military applications. It has one of the top 100 supercomputers in the world, the Tera-100.
CEA Saclay (South of Paris, RER B + bus). The biggest research center of the CEA hosts nuclear research reactors.
CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research), 1211 Geneva 23, Switzerland (Tram 18, final stop “CERN”), ☏ +41 22 767 4052, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. At CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest experiment and most complex scientific accelerator. Founded in 1954, the CERN laboratory sits astride the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. The weak force got discovered here in 1973 and in 1983 subsequently the W and Z bosons. In 1995 it created the first Anti-Hydrogen atoms of which the ASACUSA experiment can since 2014 produce a beam of. In 2012 the ATLAS and CMS experiment announced the discovery of a boson with 125 GeV, whose properties got confirmed to be the long-sought Higgs boson.
Microcosm. M-F 08:30-17:30, Sa 09:00-17:00 (some exceptional closures at holidays). In front of the entrance of the CERN laboratory there is a permanent exposition retracing its history. free of charge.
National Physical Laboratory, Hampton Road, Teddington, UK (Buses 281, 285, R68, 33, 481 and X26 serve Teddington, trains from London Waterloo ~30 min). The National Physical Laboratory is the birthplace of atomic timekeeping. In the 1950s, Louis Essen and John Parry constructed the atomic clock, Caesium Mk. 1. This new clock kept time more accurately. It paved the way for redefining the second in 1967, based on the fundamental properties of CS atoms, rather than the quite irregular Earth rotation. The facilities in Teddington are among the world’s most extensive and sophisticated for measurement science. While children are allowed, the exhibits are aimed for adults, and children must be kept under adult supervision at all times. free – registration required.
Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (ALT), Chilton, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom, ☏ +44 1235 445000. The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is a national scientific research laboratories in the UK operated by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. It is a multidisciplinary centre for research both in physical and life sciences. It had in 1957 a 50 MeV proton linear accelerator. RAL hosts ISIS, a spallation neutron source and the Central Laser Facility. RAL organises a monthly public scientific lecture: Talking Science. free, registration required.
In the United States of America overseen by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) the Office of science operates ten national laboratories. In total there are 17 national laboratories funded by the DOE. Most of the sites hold open houses where the public can come in for free and see how American tax dollars are invested in research. This used to include nuclear facilities, but those have been restricted since 9/11.
Ames Laboratory (Ames Lab), Iowa, USA (Iowa State University campus), ☏ +1 515 294-9750, ✉ email@example.com. Ames Laboratory conducts research into various areas, including the synthesis and study of new materials, energy resources, high-speed computer design, and environmental cleanup and restoration. The Ames Project purpose was to produce high purity uranium to accompany the Manhattan Project. It’s most notable faculty member Dan Shechtman won the 2011 Chemistry Nobel price. Contact the Lab in advance of your visit. Group tours can be arranged through the public affairs office.
Argonne National Laboratory (Argonne), 9700 S. Cass Avenue Argonne, Illinois, USA (Metra train to the Westmont Metra station + PACE bus #715), ☏ +1 630 252-5562, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Argonne National Laboratory was founded in 1946 to carry out Enrico Fermi’s work on nuclear reactors as part of the Manhattan Project. Today Argonne is a multidisciplinary science and engineering research center, to address vital national challenges in clean energy, environment, technology and national security. Argonne welcomes all members of the public age 16 or older to take guided tours of the scientific and engineering facilities and grounds. Tours last about two and a half hours and are by reservation only (call or email).
Brookhaven National Laboratory (Brookhaven Lab), William Floyd Parkway, County Road 46, Long Island, New York, USA (Ronkokoma station from the Long Island Rail Road (LIR) + Taxi). Brookhaven National Laboratory is a multipurpose research institution funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Brookhaven Lab operates large-scale facilities for studies in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and applied science. It is the home of the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, which first observed/created the Quark-Gluon-Plasma. Brookhaven scientists won 7 Nobel prices including the Ribosome discovery (2009). The lab is open to the public on Sundays during the summer for tours and special programs.
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), Kirk Road and Pine Street in Batavia, Illinois, USA, ☏ +1 630 840-8258, ✉ email@example.com. Apr-Oct: 8AM-8PM, Nov-Mar: 8AM-6PM. Fermilab is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics. Hence many components of the Large Hadron Collider got engineered and tested here. The Top quark was discovered in 1995 by both the CDF and DØ experiments of the Tevatron accelerator at Fermilab. The 2008 Nobel price was given for the prediction of the third generation of quarks (Bottom and Top quarks). Fermilab visitors are allowed to visit two buildings on their own: the first and ground floor of Wilson Hall and the Lederman Science Center, Groups of six or more must book a visit by calling the Center.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), San Francisco, California, USA (Lab bus from the Berkeley downtown BART station, otherwise 15-min walk uphill). Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) was founded in 1931 by Ernest Orlando Lawrence. 13 Nobel prizes have been awarded to LBNL scientists, the most recent one (2011) for the discovery of the accelerated expansion of the Universe. It started as a particle physics laboratory, became involved for the study of nuclear matter and discovered 16 chemical elements. It is today a multi-program research site. Visitors need special clearance or may take advantage of the open days. The site on top of the hill nicely overlooks the San Francisco Bay.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA (7 miles from the center of the city of Oak Ridge), ☏ +1 865 574-7199, ✉ ORNLvisit@ornl.gov. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is a multiprogram science and energy laboratory, with scientific and technical capabilities spanning from basic to applied research. ORNL is famous to host the Titan supercomputer. The Spallation Neutron Source is an accelerator-based neutron source facility that provides the most intense pulsed neutron beams in the world for scientific research and industrial development. Oak Ridge National Laboratory hosts thousands of visitors every year. It is very important, if you are not a DOE or DOE contractor employee, to arrange your visit to ORNL ahead of time.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), 902 Battelle Boulevard, Richland, Washington, USA. The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has many research projects for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Nuclear Security Administration. All PNNL visitors, regardless of nationality, will need to have visitor badges to go past the Lobby.
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), 100 Stellarator Road Princeton, New Jersey, USA (NJ Transit Northeast Corridor line train (southbound) to Trenton Station; switch to the SEPTA R7 train to Philadelphia; from the West Trenton Station (I-95 south, exit 2, Bear Tavern Road south) take the SEPTA R3 train to Philadelphia), ☏ +1 609 243-2000, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 09:00-14:00. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory researches plasma physics and nuclear fusion science. PPPL is located on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus. The free tours are led by engineers and physicists who can answer questions about magnetic fusion. In order to visit email to request a tour and give PPPL two weekdays when you would like to visit and some background on your group, including where your group is from, how many people are in your group, the age-range and the educational background of your group.
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, SLAC), Sand Hill Road, Stanford, USA. The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory does experimental and theoretical research in elementary particle physics using electron beams and a broad program of research in atomic and solid-state physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine using synchrotron radiation. It discovered the charm quark, the quark structure inside the protons and neutrons and the tau lepton (3 Nobel prizes). At this time, all public and educational tours of the laboratory have been suspended. SLAC hopes to have them back and asks to check their website periodically for updates.
Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (Jefferson Lab), Newport News, Virginia, USA, ✉ email@example.com. Open house one day in May 9AM-3PM. The Jefferson Lab main facility is the Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility, which is 1400 m in length and accelerates electrons up to 6 GeV. The most powerful free-electron laser in the world has an output of over 14 kilowatts. The lab has an open house once a year that includes a tour of the accelerator tunnel and the free electron laser. No registration of visitors is required during the open house. The open house tours involve extended periods of walking, and many tour stops include stairs. Also, much of the event is outdoors. Free.
Biosphere 2, 32540 A Biosphere Rd, Mile marker 96.5, Oracle, Arizona, USA (30 min north of Tucson on Hwy 77), ☏ +1 520-838-6139, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-4PM daily, no reservations required. This facility was designed as an artificially closed complete ecology, and was the setting for research on human interaction with natural systems. The site is now owned and maintained by the University of Arizona, which conducts tours for the public. The scientific credentials of the initial project phase is quite unclear as it started as theatre group. For example no input was taken from the Antarctic research stations, where researcher experience extreme confinement. $20/adults, $13/children.
McMurdo Station. An American research station that doubles as the largest community in Antarctica.
ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre, Karl-Schwarzschild-Straße 2, Garching (near Munich, Germany), ☏ +49 89 32006900, ✉ email@example.com. 09:00–17:00. The ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre is a cutting-edge free astronomy centre for the public located at the site of ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München, providing you with an immersive experience that will leave you in awe of the Universe we live in.
European Space Agency’s Columbus Control Centre, Münchener Straße 20,82234 Weßling (20km (12 mi) outside of Munich in Oberpfaffenhofen), ☏ +49 8153 28-2711, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. every day from 15:00-16:00 (registration required, groups limited to 30 persons) until “Blue Dot” space mission is in space, afterwards depending on space missions. is used to control the Columbus research laboratory of the International Space Station, as well as a ground control centre for the Galileo satellite navigation system. It is located at a large research facility of the German Aerospace Centre. (DLR). [http://www.col-cc.de/fuehrungen.html free.
Stjerneborg observatory, Hven Island, Sweden – observatory Tycho Brahe’s.
University Observatory Vienna (Universitäts Sternwarte), Türkenschanzstraße 17, Währing, Wien, Austria. The Institute of Astronomy is part of the University of Vienna, located inside a fabulous historic building. The park contains many rare trees. It has a mini observatory on the roof. Guided tours are available.
Mt Graham International Observatory (MGIO), 1651 W Discovery Park Blvd, Safford, AZ (Discovery Park Campus), ☏ +1 928-428-6260, ✉ email@example.com. May-Oct, depending on weather. Operated by the University of Arizona and situated in the Pinaleño Mountains west of Safford, this observatory offers periodic tours for the public. Reservations required, preferably two or more weeks in advance. Tours depart from the Discovery Park Campus in Safford. $40/person, includes lunch.
Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tohono O’Odham Reservation, Arizona, USA (90 minutes southwest of Tucson), ☏ +1 520-318-8726, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-3:45PM daily. Operates several astronomical telescopes plus a large solar telescope. Several guided tours are available, as well as a nightly observation program (reservations required). $9.75 for all three tours (adults).
McDonald Observatory, outside of Fort Davis, Texas.
Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, 670 Mt Hopkins Rd, Amado, Arizona, USA (one hour due south of Tucson off I-19), ☏ +1 520-879-4407. M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM. Call ahead for tour information.
Lowell Observatory, 1400 W Mars Hill Rd, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. Among other historical achievements, this is the observatory where Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto, and you can still see the telescope he used to do it.
NRAO Very Large Array, outside of Socorro, New Mexico, USA (US Rt 60 between Phoenix, Arizona, and Socorro runs right through the complex.). Huge, iconic radio telescope array featured in numerous films and TV shows, which still performs cutting edge observations. Self-guided tour allows you to walk around the base of one of the dishes and see into the maintenance facility. Occasional guided tours (see website) give you a closer look.
NRAO Green Bank Observatory, 155 Observatory Road, Green Bank, WV 24944. Tucked away in the beautiful West Virginia Mountains, in the middle of the National Radio Quiet Zone, this is the largest fully steerable single dish radio telescope in the world.
While the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) are in Garching near Munich, Germany the observatories are located in northern Chile.
ESO La Silla Observatory, Coquimbo Region, Chile, ✉ email@example.com. La Silla Observatory is on the outskirts of the Chilean Atacama Desert, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile and at an altitude of 2400 metres.
ESO Paranal Observatory, Cerro Paranal, Chile, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. At 2635 metres above sea level in the Atacama Desert of Chile, ESO’s Paranal Observatory is one of the best astronomical observing sites in the world and is the flagship facility for European ground-based astronomy.
ESO/NAOJ/NRAO ALMA, Llano de Chajnantor, Chile. High on the Chajnantor plateau in the Chilean Andes, the European Southern Observatory (ESO), together with its international partners, is operating the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) — a state-of-the-art telescope to study light from some of the coldest objects in the Universe.
SALT Telescope (Southern African Large Telescope). The largest single optical telescope in the southern hemisphere and among the largest in the world.
KAT-7, MeerKAT, PAPER, and SKA Africa. The SKA Telescope is the most powerful telescope ever conceived. Its precursor, MeerKAT, is already the most powerful telescope every built. Most of it is to be built in Africa under the auspices of SKA Africa. The core of the telescope is located near Carnarvon, on the Northern Cape, with more dishes located in Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia, Namibia, Mauritius and Ghana.
South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) (Cape Town). The national centre for optical and infrared astronomy in South Africa. The Observatory has a fascinating history dating back to 1820, which is when the main building was constructed, making it one of the oldest permanent structures in Cape Town. Owing to light and air pollution in the city, most of the actual observing happens in Sutherland in the Northern Cape, about 380 km from Cape Town. Some of the telescopes in Cape Town are still used for outreach and public events.
H.E.S.S. Telescope. One of the leading observatories studying very high energy (VHE) gamma-ray astrophysics.
The most prestigious universities generally attract excellent scientists and have fine science programs. University campuses are usually open to the public, though permission from guards is sometimes required, and there may be some café or cafeteria or mensa or restaurant or even a university shop on site. Universities usually offer public lectures about ongoing research. Otherwise, their seminars and buildings are reserved for the students and the working faculty including post-doctoral researchers or professors. On weekends or holidays, many universities require special permits to enter. Universities compete on a worldwide basis; hence, they are not ordered by geographical position or alphabetized. Below is a list of the 20 highest-ranked universities according to 2013/2014 QS world university ranking (of course rankings may differ according to year and specific subject).
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. MIT is a private research university.
Harvard University (Harvard), Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
University of Cambridge (Cambridge), The Old Schools, Trinity Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1TN, United Kingdom. A collegiate research university that was founded in 1209 making it the world’s third-oldest university. It includes 31 constituent colleges and academic departments which are organised into six Schools. 90 Nobel laureates count as affiliated.
University College London (UCL), Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT, United Kingdom, ☏ +44 20 7679 2000. A public research university that was founded in 1826. There are 27 Nobel Prize winners and three Fields Medallists amongst UCL’s alumni and current and former staff.
Imperial College London (Imperial), South Kensington Campus, London, SW7 2AZ, United Kingdom, ☏ +44 20 7589 5111. Specialised in science, engineering, medicine and business. The former constituent college of the federal University of London became independent in 2007. It lists 15 Nobel laureates and two Fields Medallists amongst Imperial’s alumni and current and former faculty.
University of Oxford (Oxford), University Offices, Wellington Square, Oxford, OX1 2JD, United Kingdom, ☏ +44 1865 270000. A collegiate research university. The leaflet Explore the University of Oxford contains a map and information on opening times of colleges, museums and other places of interest. The main places of interest are only a few minutes walk from the main rail and coach stations. Oxford holds a few open days each year in July and September. Due to high demand, many colleges and some departments require advance booking for their events.
Stanford University (Leland Stanford Junior University, Stanford), 450 Serra Mall, Stanford, California, USA, ☏ +1 650 723-2300. A private research university founded in 1885. 58 Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university. The Stanford campus offers sightseeing and educational opportunities for tourists and first-time visitors. There are student led walking tours.
Yale University (Yale), New Haven, Connecticut, USA. A private research university. Fifty-one Nobel laureates have been affiliated with the university as students, faculty, or staff.
University of Chicago (UChicago, Chicago), Chicago, Illinois, USA. A private research university.
California Institute of Technology (Caltech), 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, California, USA (at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, Caltech’s campus is 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles and approximately 30 miles from the ocean; the Caltech and JPL campuses are readily accessible by car, shuttle, bike, and public transit). A private research university that is a world-renowned research and education institution dedicated to advancing science and engineering. Tours are offered for prospective students on holidays or high school groups. Caltech also offers a self+guided walking tour with booklet.
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, USA (the transportation network of bus, rail and highways puts Princeton within reach (an hour or less) of major urban centers: Philadelphia and Trenton to the south, Newark and New York to the north). A private Ivy League research university that was founded in 1747.
ETH Zürich (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich), Zurich, Switzerland. This Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university. Twenty-one Nobel Prizes have been awarded to students or professors, the most famous of which is Albert Einstein in 1921. It is the top-ranked university in continental Europe.
University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, USA.
Columbia University, New York City, USA.
Cornell University, USA.
John Hopkins University, USA.
University of Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom.
University of Toronto (UofT), King’s College Circle, Toronto, Canada.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
King’s College London (KCL), United Kingdom.
Hofmeyr Skull, The Hofmeyr Skull is a specimen of a 36,000-year-old skull found in the 1950s near Hofmeyr, South Africa. The samples age supports the so-called “Out of Africa” theory that modern humans evolved from Africa.
Groote Schuur Hospital, On December 3, 1967, 53-year-old Lewis Washkansky received the first human heart transplant at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. The procedure was performed by Dr. Christiaan Barnard.