earth, wind, fire

I went to a little talk today, held by Mano Mark, senior geo developer at Google, for whoever at the Smithsonian who wanted to come. I learned some interesting things…
Declan G. De Paor, professor of geophysics at the Old Dominion University in Virginia have worked with Google Earth and maps for years, and have made some amazing and creative use of it. The image above shows the deep mantle plume under Iceland, and a little timeline elevates the polygon wrapped in images.
He has a bunch of other examples here, I am particularly fond of the Seattle Subduction. I see great potential, and with careful thinking, this could be used for geological layers, strata and maybe even archeological digs and actual artifacts. It could be models of sites, it could be models of sites represented in the appropriate eon. Imagine the continental drifts, the sites today, and the levels of possible representation. Mind-boggling; exciting.

Google earth are now in at version 6, and some interesting things are going on. Google runs their satellite images through analysis, and find trees. They have apparently identified about 50 different species, made 3D models of them, and planted them in Google Earth. This is of course fun, but to some of the people present at the talk this is important mapping of biotopes and possible identification. I imagine a combination of things like the mobile application leafsnap and Google Earth/maps. Endless potential.

HistoryPin is a nifty little site, that gives you the opportunity to load historical pictures in streetview. I think it needs more work and refining, but it is a splendid thing, informative and fun.

This map shows the worlds most interesting remote places from touristiness. It exemplifies basically a heat map, that shows density. This particular map is curiously interesting because it shows interesting remote places, while as the natural instinct would be to go for the – say – most popular places (they do that too). In that sense, it is a “negative” map, and therefore a tad more interesting. The idea is to show you where you are less likely to meet other tourists. As a way of showing density, heat maps are brilliant. Intuitive, easy to understand, and highly flexible.

I also learned about fusion tables, and how Google includes the Similie timeline. This feels a little ironic, as we looked into Similie in 2010 as a potential solution for this project for the Smithsonian. We then decided against it, mainly because it was¬†unnecessarily large, and the documentation a little shaky for our project. Now, it seems, it works directly with fusion tables… so it goes.

I also learned about other things, such as shapefiles (shp), Google Earth Builder, intensity maps with own defined borders and space-time. I have to look into all of it. Exciting times, and indeed thanks to Mano Marks.