Get Nerdy: The world is yours

By Gus Bode

Editors Note: This is the fourth in a series of columns that will examine recent advancements in technology on campus and around the world.

Time travel, deep-sea exploration and space exploration have left the realm of science fiction and entered many computers packaged in the slick application known as Google Earth.

Google Earth was released as the ultimate time-killer in 2004 and has kept people off-task in a way eclipsed only by Facebook. Instead of stalking people to whom you have not spoken since high school, you can explore foreign countries and familiar sights. The thing about Google Earth is it leaves you in a sense of awe and inspiration like no other application. The newest installment, version 5.0, builds on this and explores new territories in ways that would make Jules Verne (author of ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’) jealous.

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The two new features of Google Earth 5.0 are the ability to navigate under the sea and explore Mars. Both new features are wonderfully diverse, spanning from diving under the sea to explore abundant life forms, or roaming around on a cold dead planet. Roving around Mars’ crater-filled terrain and stopping at the largest volcano in the solar system, Olympus Mons, is the highlight of the Martian exploration, while tracking sharks and whales in the deep blue sea is the pinnacle of Google Earth’s ocean journey.

The Mars application is thoroughly entertaining because the quality of the image is represented very well. We are spoiled to expect high definition pictures from satellites orbiting miles above us, but the quality of Mars surface – which is between 36 million miles to 250 million miles from Earth – is simply outstanding. David Bowie will have his best shot at determining if there is life on Mars with this new feature.

Traveling the ocean in search of shipwrecks, deep trenches, and hot spots for scuba diving are among the highlights of the new ocean feature. The details on the ocean floor are far less defined than the surface, but for its efforts, Google will get a free pass. To compile all this data into a simple cohesive application warrants praise.’ The ocean floor is filled with mysteries the free application is still unable to unlock, but the joy of trying to navigate trenches and coral reefs is awe-inspiring.

Using compiled satellite images from the earliest satellites Google Earth allows you to travel back in time, albeit in a limited manner. There is no checking on the dinosaurs, but it is interesting to witness a construction project go from start to scratch or how a natural disaster can affect an area.

Sure, Google Earth is not without its problems (mainly long wait times), but Google’s desire to capture the planet Earth with a simple click of a mouse is wonderfully imaginative. The load times can be a bit annoying, but when you realize Google’s refusal to compromise quality above anything else it is well worth any wait.

Google Earth gives anyone the power to explore the world at large along with the universe with a little patience and precise mouse control. It is also interesting to note that one of the most powerful applications is free to download and enjoy.’

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