02 July 2008

An explosive holiday. Nuclearly explosive.

Well I've heard of a few crazy things you can do on your holidays. Parachute out of airplanes, dive off cliffs, run in front of really angry bulls. But with most of these options (even though I consider them completely insane) at least you know it will provide an instantanteous or relatively quick death. But now a whole new way to die whilst on holiday has become available: Radiation!

I jest of course, who would want to go on holiday and have something terrible happen to them? But nuclear tourism has become a sort of extreme holiday, possibly because even though you don't get the adrenalin rush of a base jump, you have an equal amount of danger involved.

This type of tourism is most developed in the US, where one can visit one of many nuclear related sites, including the world's only public underground missile complex, a fully restored Nike missile complex, the first place plutonium was ever made, and above it all of course the National Atomic Museum. For a full list of atomic locations in the US one can visit the Bureau of Atomic Tourism.

That is not to say that the States have the only places worth visiting if you like your plutonium. How about one of the most infamous nuclear accident locations? That's right, if you're quick you can book a holiday to Chernobyl. To be fair, you can probably still book it if you move really slowlly and put it off for a couple of times. There are several groups of tourists in the area every year, equipped with their own geiger counters and you need to get scanned and greenlit before leaving. Apparently it is a very impressive site, an entire abandoned city, a nuclear reactor encased in cement and steel and thousands of acres of countryside where humans are no longer present and despite the radiation animals and nature are in complete harmony.

I thinkl what is probably the biggest appeal for this sort of destination, is like any other visit to a great site of technology, like a massive bridge or a towering cathedral. These sites are reminders of our limitless potential as a species. At the same time, sites like Chernobyl are reminders of all the other things we are capable of. If nothing else it would make for interesting conversation...

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