Why lie on a beach when you could go to Chernobyl? In the past few years there has been a steady growth in alternative tourism, which includes people going to sites of scientific interest. In this episode of the Physics World Stories podcast, Andrew Glester meets three people who are unashamedly drawn to geeky destinations.
Ruth Nichol is a yoga instructor who travels the world with her husband seeking eclipses. She describes the emotional impact of witnessing totality and her trip to see the Northern Lights from a plane.
Tom Scott is a radiation researcher at the University of Bristol whose work regularly takes him to Chernobyl, Ukraine, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. Scott talks about his research using robotics to track radiation levels in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, which he also described in the Physics World article ‘Glimpsing Chernobyl’s hidden hotspots‘. Over the years Scott has witnessed the rise of Chernobyl tours, which had grown to attract around 100,000 visitors annually before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, Glester catches up with Jeffrey Brunstrom, an experimental psychologist at the University of Bristol specializing in nutrition. As Brunstrom explains, there are tricky psychological barriers that make our post-holiday diets easier to speak about than actually stick to. Brunstrom also describes his love of the Marconi centre in Cornwall, which celebrates the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi who undertook groundbreaking telecommunications experiments in the region.
Find out more about science-themed holidays in the August special issue of Physics World, which also has features on the physics of sandcastles and rollercoasters.