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updated 9/6/2011 4:08:31 PM ET 2011-09-06T20:08:31

New Mexico, home to several of the nation's premier scientific, nuclear and military institutions, is planning to embark on a science project of unprecedented scale — a petri dish the size of a large U.S. city.

A Washington-based technology company announced plans Tuesday to build a 20-square-mile model metropolis that would be used to test everything from renewable energy innovations to intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks.

The replica city would be capable of supporting a population of 350,000, but would be the state's newest ghost town.

Pegasus Global CEO Bob Brumely says the $200 million project will be a first of its kind in the U.S. and could create a Silicon Valley of sorts in New Mexico.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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