Pokémon GO, a free-to-play mobile game from the Pokémon Company, has millions of players flocking to locations all over the world to flush out and capture rare Pokémon: digital monsters the franchise has been creating since 1996. The viral sensation recently beat out Twitter for the most active users, and requires players to physically move to neighborhood landmarks to find supplies (Pokéstops), competition grounds (Gyms), and, of course, 151 different Pokémon to catch and collect. Pokémon GO uses the phone’s camera to overlay Pokémon with the real world, and players across the globe have been posting what they’ve found, and where, on social media.
Along with monuments and statues, some buzzworthy scientific landmarks have made the Pokémon GO circuit.
1. NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Pokémon have been spotted at the visitor’s center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. They tweeted, alerting players to a grand total of 18 Pokéstops in their vicinity.
2. Smithsonian Mathias Laboratory
Researchers working at the Mathias Lab at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Maryland, were interrupted by a Pokémon invasion. After regrouping and caffeinating, the scientists—who work in biogenomics, conservation biology, and other fields—have begun to resist and retaliate.
3. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
For Pokémon, mission control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is a gym. As of yesterday, it’s controlled by a level-11 player with a mean-looking Vaporeon.
4. Arizona Science Center
A Caterpie (a caterpillarlike Pokémon) was found by the staff of the Arizona Science Center in Phoenix, near an exhibition on giant insects, of course. Fitting, because the insect Pokémon is 0.3 meters tall on average.
5. Birthplace of the internet, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
A high school research student captured a pair of pocket monsters (one is pictured at right) while wandering the halls of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science—specifically, in the presence of the machine that sent the first message via the internet.
6. Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
This particle physics lab in Batavia, Illinois, is a Pokémon GO player’s dream, complete with Pokéstops (there’s one at the Tevatron cryogenic cooling system plaque), a gym, and plenty of pocket monsters to wrangle—although some have infiltrated an office and the control room.
7. Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
A physicist working at the LHC at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, found that the ATLAS detector, used to identify and study new particles, is actually a Pokéstop. No word yet on the species of Pokémon that roam the LHC’s tunnels, however.
8. International Space Station
While the world continues to download and obsess over Pokémon GO, there are six people who can’t catch ‘em all … or catch any, for that matter. A solemn tweet from the International Space Station noted that there are no Pokémon to be captured in space by the handful of crew members.
Pokémon are seemingly everywhere—even at Science headquarters in Washington, D.C. Recently, a Weedle was spotted crawling around the entrance to AAAS (publisher of Science).
Catch any Pokémon at a noteworthy scientific landmark? Let us know what Pokémon you’ve caught and where in the comments below.
*Update, 14 July, 4:14 p.m.: This article has been updated to define Pokémon GO.