Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Modern Library Globe

I recently installed Google Earth (free version). It's the same satellite photos as you can see in Google Maps but presented in an extraordinary way. It's quite mesmerizing and addictive at first. I found that hours had passed without hardly noticing.

For the most part I've used it to revisit places I've been before. Vacations in Mexico or my Air Force tour of duty on the island of Mallorca. But I've also looked at sites of curiosity, such as the Pyramids, Rock of Gibralter, North Korea, the Matterhorn and others.

Google Earth has several fascinating features. The first is "Terrain" where it takes the two dimensional satellite photos and squish them down over elevation data giving a fair image of 3 dimensional mountains and landscape. The second is "point of view". The viewer's point of view can be turned to any horizontal degree of the compass, any vertical angle, and from any elevation. Combining this with Terrain yields some wonderful images. The other feature is taking this point of view and slowly moving it providing an impression of flying. This gives an increase to the presentation of 3 dimensional space. In fact the program incorporates a "Flight Simulator" where you alter the point of view through the controls of an airplane.

Another feature similar to Google Map is the incorporation of map markers linking you to other internet data. The best I think are the links to photos posted by ordinary people of the sites your looking at. Did you forget to capture a picture of the hotel while on vacation? No problem . . . "fly" there in Google Earth and "borrow" a photo some other vacationer snapped.

Some curiosities found by G-Earth;
  • There's a golf course right next to the Pyramids of Giza.
  • The classic cliff view of the Rock of Gibraltar is not the end of the peninsula that the ships sail past (also the Gibraltar airport is in a most fascinating location).
  • One thing that will hit you when looking at the capital of North Korea is the nearly complete lack of cars on the roads.

Pyramid Golf Course.

The Port of Soller, Island of Mallorca, Spain.

The Matterhorn.

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