Continuing the location search for a Science Hostel: With its telescopes and dominating location, Mauna Kea immediately draws attention. Astronomers have housing at Hale Pohaku near the 2800 meter elevation. Because of the altitude, no one is allowed to sleep on Mauna Kea's summit. Nearby a visitor information centre hosts astronomy lectures and outdoor star parties. Stargazing tours take astronomy buffs for brief visits to the summit--it would be wonderful if they had a place to spend the night.
HIKING AND SNOW: The mountain has many varied hiking trails, but watch out for the altitude. Every Winter enough snow falls on the summit for snowboarding and some skiing.
DISADVANTAGES: Difficult to reach unless you have 4WD. All water must be shipped in. The biggest obstacle to a Hostel is that most of the land is public. Keck Telescope headquarters is some distance away in Kamuela. Perhaps on the mountain's slopes an astronomy inn will someday see first light.
Enshrouded in fog and overgrown with ferns, this forest looks like the Pacific Northwest. This photo was taken atop a live volcano in the middle of the Pacific. Volcano Village is perched just a short hike from the edge of Kilauea Crater. Within walking distance are the Volcano Art Center, post office, grocery store, laundromat, hardware store and 3 restaurants. Penniless scientists can reach here via the Mele bus from Hilo.
Don't worry about lava--this mature forest that has not seen Madame Pele for centuries. The present centre of eruptions is at Pu'u O'o, Southeast of the town and slowly moving further away. Even if Kilauaea were to erupt, the village is uphill from the crater and lava flows down. Unknown to most of the world, the Volcano Village is a natural location for a hostel or shared home.
HIKING AND SNOW: Of all places mentioned, Volcano has the greatest variety for hiking. In a day's walk one could see anything from the floor of Kilauea Crater to endless rain forest. The nearest snow is on Mauna Kea.
DISADVANTAGES: The nearest snow is on Mauna Kea, as are most of the telescopes.
Though fog makes this a poor site for observing the sky, it may have a lot to do with the Big Bang. Kilauea volcano is powered by Earth's internal heat, which also creates continents and islands. Internal heat, magnetic field and even the riddle of Earth's formation could all be explained by a tiny Black Hole. Tiny singularities would have been created in the immense pressures near the Big Bang. In the primordial Solar System, Earth would have formed around this little hole like a pearl around a grain of sand. Our Solar System, planet and Volcano Village may owe their existence to a relic of the Big Bang.