MySci Roundup, Nov. 30: Zooming from orbital space to your doorstep

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We remember reading in Robert Hughes  history of Modernism, “The Shock of the New,” that the completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1889 helped trigger the mass mind expansion that led to Picasso and de Kooning.  That’s because the then-tallest structure on the planet allowed people to view reality from a never-before-seen expanse, and to take in more visual information in a single sweep than ever before.  Now, we have access to a comparably perspective-altering experience right on our desktops–the beta version of Google Earth 6.

The online digital atlas now integrates satellite photos with ground-level images compiled by Google’s intrepid armada of digital photography vans. The result is that users can now start with an orbital view of the planet’s surface, type in an address, zoom down to the equivalent of a few feet off the ground, and then zip around the streets like Tinker Bell. (Or, if you prefer cutting-edge experimental technology, you could be one of those insect cyborgs that Pentagon-financed researchers are building.) One of the coolest things about Google Earth is the ability to fly from your doorstep to, say, a sidewalk cafe next to the entrance of the Louvre in Paris, in just a matter of seconds. 

Another intriguing feature of Google Earth 6 is that the program doesn’t just show the planet’s surface–it actually improves upon it with 3D Trees, digital simulations of actual tree species that the designers have planted in locations around the world, from Kenya to Brazil. We’re hoping that they eventually add digital clones of Horse Boy, the Street View prankster, on the streets of various cities.

Okay, enough time-wasting–your boss is getting suspicious. Now for the news.

Extinct animals come to life with augmented reality. We just hope the really scary-looking ones ones don’t come after us.

British scientists report biomass oil substitutes breakthrough. Not just for fuels, but for making plastic, too.

An Odyssey through the brain. This is one of the coolest slideshows, ever.

Oxygen in atmosphere found on moon of Saturn. It’s five trillion times less dense than the Earth’s atmosphere, but still. 

Snakes on a rope. This is a study of boa constrictors’ agility and mobility, not a remake of a Samuel L. Jackson disaster thriller. It’s just as interesting, but without the bad words.


  1. raman123
    December 1, 2010, 9:20 am

    Wow. This is a really good tool. the only question is , whre does privacy go in all of this banter? Its completely lost!