Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Google Earth

I came across this picture via that wonderful RPG motivational poster thread I've been yammering about. (Click on it for a larger image.)

The picture was taken from Google Earth, a free download from Google that allows you to zip around the globe, zoom in, zoom out, and adjust the angle at which you view terrain features. A new geek game is to look for interesting pictures on Google Earth. A Google Earth user by the name of Supergranny found the picture.

The terrain is naturally formed due to uplift and erosion. It exists at 50° 0'38.20"N 110° 6'48.32"W (that's 50 degrees, 38.20 seconds north latitude, and 110 degrees, 6 minutes, 48.32 seconds west longitude). The closest settlement is Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. The image has been dubbed "the Alberta Indian". It suggests a native American ("American" meaning, in this case, a native of the Americas) listening to an iPod.

For more of the story, see http://www.smh.com.au/news/web/this-ipod-user-rocks/

The image, of course, brings to mind the famous "face" on Mars, that was likewise a geologic feature.

Google Earth is a fascinating tool/toy. Unfortunately, it is restricted by the quality of the aircraft and satellite images available to it. Most cities in North America are well covered, and major cities elsewhere show a good degree of quality, but some other cities show surprisingly poor resolution. For instance, the area just west of Edinburgh, Scotland is reasonably well defined, but the central part of Edinburgh, where the castle is located, has such poor resolution that you can't easily make out where the castle is located.

By comparison, look at this:

That's our apartment in Monroe. I believe the black rectangle in front of the building is our neighbour's truck. The white rectangle in front of the building is our other neighbour's car or truck, parked at an angle. There are no vehicles in front of our house. The shot was taken during a work day (when I ran it over to Logan's school, cars were in the parking lot). It was taken on a day Alana and I both took vehicles to work.

I checked for the photograph of downtown Monroe, and found the parking lot beside where I work. Given that the lot is sparsely used, and that I usually park in one specific spot (though I started to change that spot this summer for a shadier spot), and there's a black rectangle in that spot, I think it was a day I had the Chevy Tracker (assuming both pictures were taken the same day).

Hopefully as time goes on, better resolution pictures will be made available for other locations. There's no excuse that Monroe should be available in better resolution than Edinburgh!

I checked out the city where I grew up, but most of Oshawa, Ontario is another poor resolution area. I looked at Toronto briefly, but stopped when I started to get a little home sick. I will have to show this to Logan, though, because the imagery for Lookout Mountain — where we went for vacation this year — is pretty good.

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