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 V.20 No.19 | May 12 - 18, 2011 

Feature

7 Sci-Fi Wonders

Mostly stranger than fiction

Julia Minamata juliaminamata.com

The Lightning Field

lightningfield.org

Part sculpture, part science project. Walter De Maria installed this expansive land art piece in the Middle of Friggin’ Nowhere, Catron County, in 1977. Four hundred perfectly spaced, polished steel rods extend up to the sky in a 1 mile-by-1 kilometer grid. It’s intended to be experienced over time, alone, especially during dusk and dawn. To facilitate that experience, the foundation that maintains the site has a cabin right in the heart of the action. Up to six visitors at a time can reserve the place, which is stocked with linens, breakfast and dinner. (Laura Marrich)

Trementina Base

wapo.st/TrementinaBase

What are you doing after the end of the world? If you’re a loyal Scientologist, you probably have some firm plans. You’ll be reincarnated in a different form and traveling around the universe spreading the good word about L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings. But wait, what if you forgot some of them? That could be really embarrassing for future generations, so the Scientologists of today have taken steps to make sure that there will always be an archive of Hubbard’s works available right here New Mexico. The Church of Scientology owns a parcel of land near Trementina where, according to CNN, there’s an underground vault that stores all of Hubbard’s works on stainless steel tablets encased in titanium. There’s also a long landing strip on the surface of the site and two enormous interlocking circles with diamonds in their center carved into the ground itself. The circles, clearly visible from the air, are there to help guide spaceships when they come in for a landing sometime in the next billion years. (Ty Bannerman)

The VLA

www.vla.nrao.edu

At first glance, the Very Large Array just looks like a bunch of giant satellite dishes. But at 82-feet wide apiece, the 27 radio towers that make up this massive radio astronomy system 50 miles west of Socorro work together to create the resolution of an antenna a staggering 22 miles across. Why is that unbelievably awesome? Because it allows astronomers from around the world to study galaxies deep in space; to explore the lingering signal leftover from the Big Bang; to probe black holes; to chip away at the truth about the history of the universe and the nature of life. And it’s just off U.S. Highway 60. (Christie Chisholm)

The Taos Hum

bit.ly/TaosHumStraightDope

Of all the things in Taos that make one go, Hmmm, perhaps the most elusive/mysterious/annoying/suspect/intriguing is the Taos Hum. Described as a low-frequency sound that resembles a diesel truck idling in the distance, the strange hum has been bewildering and maddening 2 percent of Taos’ population since the early ’90s. While many locations throughout the world report their own hum, the Taos Hum is most famous among hums due to a petition in 1993 begging congress to investigate its source. Congress delegated the task to top men (Indiana Jones reference) to track down the source of the hum, but they came up empty-handed. Hum-hearers, of course, have many theories as to the what, where, when, why and how of the hum, including, but certainly not limited to, super-secret military operations, undetected seismic activity, the sound of the Earth’s core, human skin detecting sound, communications from lost spirits or living rocks, and—because it wouldn’t be a New Mexican mystery without it—alien activity. Whether it’s a government cover-up or a natural phenomenon, the Taos Hum (and Hum-hearers) remains a real humdinger. (Maren Tarro)

Spaceport America

spaceportamerica.com

Want to ride in a spaceship? If you’ve got $200,000, you’ll soon be able to launch yourself beyond our atmosphere from Spaceport America, just 45 miles north of Las Cruces. Commercial spaceflight may just be a few years away, and it’s evidenced in the 2-mile-long runway completed last year. (Christie Chisholm)

Roswell

roswellufofestival.com

While the details of what happened near Roswell back in 1947 are debatable, the results are not: Roswell has become a sci-fi tourist mecca. The International UFO Museum is a bit drab, but the Area 51 Museum down the block is a rainbow-colored, prop-filled photo op extraordinaire. You can eat Big Macs at a flying-saucer-shaped McDonald's, and there's a UFO festival every July. (Devin O’Leary)

Dulce Base

bit.ly/DulceBase

Listen to a lot of "Coast to Coast AM” with George Noory and you may be convinced that extradimensional aliens have constructed a secret UFO base inside Archuleta Mesa. Go there in person, and you'll just wonder when the town's gas station is gonna open up. Boring? ... Or deceptively boring? (Devin O’Leary)

 
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