Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Take advantage of Black Friday with 15% off sitewide with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" on Slashdot Deals (some exclusions apply)". ×
United States Idle Science

Tech Company To Build Science Ghost Town In New Mexico 198

Charliemopps sends this excerpt from an AP report: "New Mexico, home to several of the nation’s premier scientific, nuclear and military institutions, is planning to take part in an unprecedented science project — a 20-square-mile model of a small U.S. city. A Washington, D.C.-based technology company announced plans Tuesday to build the state’s newest ghost town to test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems, next-generation wireless networks and smart-grid cyber security systems. Although no one will live there, the replica city will be modeled after a typical American town of 35,000 people, complete with highways, houses and commercial buildings, old and new."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Tech Company To Build Science Ghost Town In New Mexico

Comments Filter:
  • Just don't take any shortcuts on your road trip in that area.

    • by Lord Lode (1290856) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @04:22AM (#37324622)

      If they're going to do nuclear testing there, you could always hide in a fridge and be safe.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @04:22AM (#37324620)

    1) Lots of movies will be shot there.

    2) Lots of squatters will move in and create a real life issue of the morality of building a vacant city that can house 35,000 people and not letting homeless people stay there.


    • by Co0Ps (1539395)
      I doubt you would want to move out in the middle of the desert with no open stores and no institutions if you are homeless. Since the city only consists of buildings you would have a lot of logistics problems. Do they even have running water? Even if they did the piping there would be no point in having it on except if they did some kind of related water tests.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

        I doubt you would want to move out in the middle of the desert with no open stores and no institutions if you are homeless.

        You wouldn't want to move under a bridge either, but that's what some homeless people do.

        I agree with the original poster though. You want to build a test town? Well at least have it help some people besides your R&D department.

        Anyway, I bet they'll have water because there will be a bunch of R&D wonks working there.

        Unfortunately, I think we're wasting time here. Something t

        • by afidel (530433)
          Why not? If you were ever going to do it now would be the time, skilled labor is cheap and materials are generally as cheap as they are going to be in the foreseeable future.
    • You forgot

      3) All the fridges will get stolen.

      • All the fridges will get stolen.

        But... where can Indy hide for the nuclear blast then??

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        You forgot 3) All the fridges will get stolen.

        Also (4) In this Ghost Town, all the clubs in this will be closed down (due to too much fighting on the dance floor).

  • Sounds very inefficient and expensive to me.
    • expect government backing.
      I see no reason why they could not outfit 35,000 peoples homes with kit. Real world data has to be worth more.
      • Re:Hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

        by SomePgmr (2021234) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @04:39AM (#37324704) Homepage
        Because burning down 35,000 real homes when your molten salt solar energy storage system fails, or having your water recycling system backflow bad water through the tap is a bigger problem when you fill them with families of 4?

        Just a guess. :)
        • I'd mod you as +1 funny for a good answer. In reply to that down the /. pub. You'd have to start with all the system fails of every current energy production method and list just how many coal / gas/ hydro electric deaths disasters happen and give a body count. Molten salt is a plus as it doesn't give you Nth conditions.
          I'm not sure how to fit a water recycling system backflow into a car analogy just yet; but I'm sure we can give it a go.
          • I'm not sure how to fit a water recycling system backflow into a car analogy just yet; but I'm sure we can give it a go.

            It would be akin to running your exhaust through your air vents?
            Just a shot in the dark to help you out =D

        • by vlm (69642)

          Because burning down 35,000 real homes when your molten salt solar energy storage system fails, or having your water recycling system backflow bad water through the tap is a bigger problem when you fill them with families of 4?

          Even "normal failure" needs to be covered up. If it takes 50 revisions to get your SDHW panels not to leak, the last thing you want is 50 families whining on facebook and twitter about how revisions 1 thru 49 of your new panel design leaked water all over their priceless scrapbooks.

          Also payment negotiations with a zillion individuals would be a huge PITA.

    • by Inconexo (1401585)

      Well, it's a salvation for construction companies. Now, they can keep building houses without the need of selling them.

      • by delinear (991444)
        I wouldn't be surprised at all if this was part of the logic behind it - keep builders in work on the tax payer's dollar then try to recoup the money by hiring out the town to big business for testing.
  • by arcite (661011) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @04:24AM (#37324628)
    Those Crashtest dummies have been demanding a homeland for compensation for decades of abuse and maltreatment in the workplace.
    • That sounds all too familiar...
      1. Let's abuse group A very badly
      2. We make it up to them by giving them land
      3. We give them terrible land in the desert
      4. They open casinos and make some money
      5. We tax said casinos...
      6. Profit

      • This sounds even more familiar:

        Slashdotter makes marginally funny comment.

        Another Slashdotter misses the point entirely and tries to rebut the post by trying vainly to force some semblance of logic and intellect in it.

        Then another Slashdotter comments on the above.

        Meanwhile, an obscure component manufacturer somewhere in the Pacific Rim announces a major order for some new bleeding-edge piece of technology that could conceivably become part of some expensive, digital-lifestyle-enhancing nerd toy.

        • by Pope (17780)

          Many miles away something crawls along the shore of a dark, Scottish loch.

    • by Dogtanian (588974)

      Those Crashtest dummies have been demanding a homeland for compensation for decades of abuse and maltreatment in the workplace.

      When asked to respond to today's news, the crash test dummies' spokesman said "Mmm mmm mmm mmm."

  • Only a scientist could understand the need to test outside a sterile laboratory environment full scale with the hubris to mock Reality by charging for it and then certifying the inanity soliciting a self-serving kind of captive tourism to pay rent while caught in its nightmare

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @04:36AM (#37324694)

    They should just use Detroit [time.com]: it's already built, it's realistic and it's a lot larger than a 35,000 inhabitant city.

    • There are a lot of existing city locations that could be used for this purpose. Two candidates are Las Vegas and Riverside county in Southern California. There are large tracts of existing houses that are empty that the banks would love to unload. The people who own houses here have all seen their value drop by large amounts. A government buyout would be great for them as well.

      This article lists Riverside/San Bernadino a having the worst outlook for recovery of the housing market. http://www.businessinside [businessinsider.com]

      • by ThorGod (456163)

        After having lived in both NM and Las Vegas, I can contrast and compare the two fully. Where NM is sparse and full of local communities; the surrounding Las Vegas area is jam packed with people. (Problematic if you truly want a ghost town.) The real crux, how ever, is that NM has much more progressive policies. NM has tons of science all around the state. Los Alamos was built to design the nuclear bomb. It also has a nuclear waste repository (WIPP), a world-class tech/engineering college (NMT), Sandia

        • by ThorGod (456163)

          And before I'm flamed...Yes, I know this isn't a prospectus for a government program. But, it has the definite 'feel' of a government program. It simply wouldn't fly anywhere near Las Vegas.

    • Cleveland also has vast tracts of uninhabited land where the steel mills and factories used to be. I don't know if it would be possible for anyone to live or work there now, due to all the hazardous waste dumping that occurred since they closed. I imagine that (to a lesser extent than Cleveland or Detroit) the same is true of many other Rust Belt cities. Cleanup would be possible, but difficult and expensive, and, for most purposes, it's more practical just to build in exurban areas half an hour away, so
    • They should just use Detroit: it's already built, it's realistic and it's a lot larger than a 35,000 inhabitant city.

      I'm thinking things are going to be turning around for Detroit real soon. Sarif Industries [wikia.com] just started there a few years back, they're going to be huge.

      • Sarif Industries? Do they have a leg to stand on? [Warning: mods modding this off topic should look up and see the oooosh flying past]
      • They would be turning around right now if the culture of Detroit and its immediate environs were not so hostile to business. The falling dollar and lower labor costs due to the recession should be making American manufacturing competitive again. But not many investors are brave enough to invest in a place where workers don't want to work, unions don't want to let them, city government is famously corrupt, regulations at all levels stifle anything resembling innovation, a communist thug like Michael Moore
    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      I was thinking why not http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cordova,_Alabama#Present_Day_Cordova [wikipedia.org]
      Or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greensburg,_Kansas [wikipedia.org]
      Or any number of other places. I love the idea of building a town from the ground up. I just hope that put in a trolly system. Up till the 1950s every major city in the US had a trolly system. Maybe get Google involved as well.
      What we are talking about is what EPCOT was supposed to be except Walt was going to have people live there.

  • Ghost down [dailymail.co.uk]

    I've read about plenty of them in a "chick or the egg" situation: commercants don't want to settle because there are no clients. Residents aren't drawn because there is no commerce running and there is nobody else.

    Perfect setting for an apocalyptic scenario..

  • You know, for things like Simulations? Seems you could hopefully get many answers from the computer without the need for 20 sq. mi of "hardware", and then confirm the results with more limited real-world tests.

    Observation 2: This sounds like a money-grab more than anything else.

    Observation 3: China has ghost cities already. Perhaps we could use one of theirs.
    • Boeing has supercomputers but even they wouldn't produce a kite without wind tunnel tests.

    • by jovius (974690)

      Indeed. A new universe shall be build to simulate life that simulates life that simulates life that...

  • To be a truly faux American city, it needs virtual law offices, courts, and lawsuits over easements and blocked views, and ghosts invested in keeping it from ever ever being built.
  • Test value? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @06:09AM (#37325020) Journal

    How will they actually test the viability of 'intelligent traffic systems' with no traffic?

    In fact, most of those mentioned systems are about the interaction of that technology WITH PEOPLE in an urban environment. Just an empty urban environment doesn't get you much?

    • I am sure you could wrangle up a sufficient number of college students looking for credit, interns and retro-post modernist-faux-psuedo-quasi hippie hipsters to move in for a few months for relatively lost cost for those experiments.

    • Which reminds me of my drive to work this morning...
      The human element is a huge factor in something like traffic, when you have people running red lights, right on red when it's a no-no, and lane changes with no blinker (signal for those of you not in the Boston area).

      Given the circumstances of driving, and introducing the human element, I'd nominate Boston, LA, or something of the sorts.
      Furthermore, I will gladly accept a government stipend to live in this town, and drive like I do to work.
      As long as GLaDO

    • by delinear (991444)
      I'm not sure how much use testing where the participants know they are in a test is anyway. Most of the issues I see on my daily commute are caused by one or two idiots doing something wrong, shooting a red light and forcing drivers who have the right of way to brake, backing up traffic behind them, or someone trying to do a U-Turn on a road that doesn't permit it because they missed their turning and blocking another lane of traffic in the process, not to mention the guy talking on his phone who rear-ends
  • by vlm (69642) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @06:25AM (#37325112)

    is planning to take part in an unprecedented science project — a 20-square-mile model of a small U.S. city.

    Note the military has quite a few of these, although smaller scale. Also full of bullet holes. Which might actually be a bonus if you're planning on a technology deployment in "urban" areas.

  • This better not get federal funding.

    • There was a blog early last decade that purported to be by someone in the White House; lots of gossip about Condo Rice checking her bank account. Only thing that really stands out as credible data is that the DHS had so much cash in the budget, they couldn't spend it all on things within their remit. So they bought and stored in underground bunkers masses of expensive supplies, "Just in case".

      This feels like the sort of thing a govt. dept. WOULD spend money on, as no sane private corporation would do thi

  • $200 million will buy housing for 35 thousand? There's a town just north of Dallas called Frisco, also known as "Frisclosure" for the number of foreclosures in the area. Why not just do the testing there? Or in Las Vegas where there are thousands of homes in neighborhoods sitting empty?

    Considering the state of the housing/mortgage crisis, this seems like a prime pork barrel project. I'd rather see $200 million (let's rephrase that, $0.2 billion) spent buying out mortgages or at least the pri

  • by grumling (94709) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @07:36AM (#37325524) Homepage

    1) solar will be recommended. NM gets a ton of sunlight and it's a friggin' desert.
    2) Insulation and sealing up the shell will have the biggest impact on energy efficiency.
    3) Setting the thermostat to just above/below "uncomfortable" will be the second.
    4) LED lighting will be the third.
    5) The capital outlay will exceed the amount of money saved for the first 4-6 years... but only because energy production is subsidized in this country.

    How much experimentation do we need? This ain't rocket science. Dad was right, turn down the heat and turn off the AC. Shut off the lights when you leave the room. You think I'm made of money or something?

    • by delinear (991444)
      I hope they don't pick a dad who has the same double standards as mine. He'll complain if you leave one light burning for ten minutes while you're not in the room, but he'll happily heat the whole house to T-Shirt weather all winter just so he doesn't have to bother wearing a sweater.
  • by ThosLives (686517) on Wednesday September 07, 2011 @07:38AM (#37325534) Journal

    I find it curious that the article says 35k people for 20 square miles is "typical". I'm familiar with several small cities with about 40k people in 9 square miles, and it's not that dense. 20 square miles for 35k people seems like a very inefficient city. 0.36 acres per person is not "city-like" at all.

    Consider Detroit, which has lost a staggering amount of population, has a density of about 0.13 acres per person (using 700k and 139 square miles), and this idea of "typical" seems to be really poor.

  • Is it something to do with the SyFy (or is that PsyPhy) channel?

    • by Thud457 (234763)
      No, we're just trying to catch up to China [dailymail.co.uk]. We need to have ghettos ready for the Newcomers [wikipedia.org] when they arrive. I mean, you wouldn't want to live next to some noisy, smelly foreigner, would you?
  • If they think a brand new, fully working "city" is going to stay uninhabited for long, they are too stupid to be performing "science".

    Once construction starts, and word gets out, all the contractors will know, which will pass word down to the friends and families of people who know the construction workers, and pretty soon, you've got illegal immigrants moving in, homeless people moving in, people who've been foreclosed on and locked out of their own houses, i.e., basically a squatter situation, and, unless

    • As others have pointed out, just ask China to use their ghost towns. But if we're going to do this on US soil, might as well build the town on land used and operated by the military. God knows we spend a lot of money on defense. Might as well provision the complex for special forces training.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      If there are already abandoned towns, then why would all of the people flock to this one? If the entire town is part of the project, and all private property, it will be easy to spot the squaters, and easy to remove them. Heck, they could just set up buses from this town to one of the many other 'ghost towns' you mention, and there would be no reason for the people to come back to this one.
  • ... we'll nuke it!

  • Typical governmental waste; building something new when we already have have the same thing.

    Why not just use Detroit?

We all agree on the necessity of compromise. We just can't agree on when it's necessary to compromise. -- Larry Wall