Sunday, 3 July 2005

Visit Earth the Google Way

, in their never ending quest for new ways to use and distribute information, have come up with a new toy. Take satellite and aerial photographs; combine them with geographical data, such as borders or location of towns and cities; add information from Google Local; package the whole thing in a nice little application that can stream all this data from the Google servers. The result is Google Earth.

The application is extremely fast and nicely done. You can fly from one point on the planet to another. The quality of the satellite and aerial data varies depending on where you are but above major cities like London, the details are such that I can identify my house and the tree in front of it. With my parents house, which is in an area that also has very detailed coverage, not only can I identify the house exactly but I can make out the terrace at the back. Looking closely, you even notice darker areas: the top floor bedroom windows. So I can point out my childhood bedroom. Spooky.

Beyond this, it is amazing to look at natural and man made wonders from above. The pyramids in Giza, near Cairo, are one of the most impressive ones. Other amazing places include the Amazon basin and other major river deltas, major mountain ranges such as the Himalayas or the Andes. This is a fantastic tool to learn the geography of our planet while having fun. It's a shame they only do a Windows version though.

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