I’ve just arrived at Fermilab for a 2-month sabbatical (gotta do my part to enhance the CV geographic distribution) and learned of a contest sponsered by the state of Illinois to chose the Seven Wonders of Illinois. It’s a gimmick, of course, to promote tourism and is a total rip-off of the ancient seven wonders of the world. Visitors to the Illinois Bureau of Tourism Seven Wonders web site can nominate their favorite wonder. Note that timing is of the essence – nominations are due by 1 March, 2007 (this Thursday!). The state has been divided into seven regions and folks are asked to pick a region in which they want to nominate a site. Online voting will then take place to pick the top sites from the nominations starting March 5. The field will be successively narrowed through the rest of the month and the Illinois tourism bureau will announce one winner for each of the seven regions on April 30.
Curious? So, ya go to the 7 wonders website and you see lots of pictures that the good folks at the Illinois tourism board consider worthy of nomination – historic courthouses, lakes, Indian burial mounds, riverboats, majestic big city buildings, but nothing – absolutely nothing – of what I consider to be the most important, and probably famous, site in Illinois: Fermilab! This is a place that is special and unique to the planet, and yet retains its roots in the prairie land of Northern Illinois. I think the good folks of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism should take note. Afterall, it is (presently) the most energetic particle accelerator on earth and has made, and has the potential to make further, fundamental discoveries of the nature of the universe. It is also honestly a wonder in itself to the human eye. The collider ring circumference is 6.28 km and can easily be viewed by an airplane heading to or from one of Chicago’s airports. The accompanying office building is a 15 story highrise, built in an A-frame shape with a spectacular multi-story atrium. To retain its natural connection to the land, the lab boasts a buffalo farm (gosh the young ones in the spring are cute!) and a prairie wilderness area.
It’s a truly spectacular site! And is more than worthy of being one of the top seven wonders of Illinois. So, there’s one day left to nominate – let’s flood’em with nominations for Fermilab! Let the folks at the Illinois Bureau of Tourism know that people from all over the world think they’ve got something truly special (which they do).
To nominate, go here. You gotta type in your address (even better if you’re out of state/country – let’em know Fermilab is famous!), and write a 250 characters maximum blurb on why you think Fermilab is a wonder. That was tough for me – I hit 250 words and hadn’t even touched all the lab’s features.
Go to it folks – let’s show’em that science is important!
Update: Alas, Fermilab did not make the first cut of sights for the first vote! I’m sure we had plenty of nominations, perhaps the committee thought it was too esoteric. C’est la vie in the science world.