Google Earth, playing God, and mission tours

If you have a decent computer and broadband, check out Google Earth. It’s amazing. It’s google maps on steroids. You can fly over satellite pictures with virtual 3-d buildings and the terrain, measure distances between places, get directions from Chicago to Los Angeles and then fly over the route, fly thourgh the grand canyon. I made myself a mission tour, flying from Strasbourg, Fr. to Verviers Belgium, back to Mulhouse in Fr. and so on.

While it’s fun, looking at the world as a 3-d globe, zooming in to street level (where the satellite pictures have high-enough resolution) makes me feel like a part of humanity, gives me global vision. It’s the God’s-eye view. Check it out, and post anything fun you come up with.

16 thoughts on “Google Earth, playing God, and mission tours

  1. It’s great isn’t it. When I first used it, I started looking up all my old apartments on my mission. It does make you feel a little God-like, looking down on the world like that.

  2. Now take that and go to for all kinds of crazy cool plug-ins. Geotagged images from Flickr start popping up all over the globe, for one.

    Changing the viewing angle to more horizontal (esp in cities and w/ mountains, like in Utah) gives you a great 3D, topographical view, too.

  3. My husband and I have been playing with this all week.

    It takes my breath away every time I use it.

  4. Wow! I have to admit to being a little unnerved by this. I looked up my address and there was a street shot of my apartment with my car out front!

    The photos of Tokyo and Jerusalem weren’t very good quality but every past US residence of mine was bright and clear.

  5. The picture of our house is over a year old. The forest at the end of the street was still there.

  6. Yes, the pictures are at least a year out of date (no trampoline in our backyard). But at least now we know who we need to make friends with in our neighborhood so we can use their pools 😉

  7. Google Earth kicks butt! I’m almost persuaded to get broadband and a faster machine at home. Some fun things to do:

    Download each day’s route for the Tour de France, turn on terrain, and marvel at what those cyclists do on those mountain stages.

    Get really good yardage references on your favorite golf course (check the layout of some famous courses too, although St. Andrews doesn’t have the greatest resolution yet).

    Virtual fishing trip on Resurrection Bay, Alaska, where my father-in-law likes to go fishing. A beautiful glacial fjord.

    Geography test: check to see what historical and cultural landmarks you can locate without the use of a map (The Nazca lines don’t resolve as far as I can tell, btw).

    Find the letters on the mountains in Utah.

    Turn on “buildings” in Manhattan or Las Vegas.

    Recreate the Eames’ movie “Powers of 10”

    See which sites have been pixellated or included only at reduced resolution due to national security concerns (White House, US Capitol, Pearl Harbor. Guantanamo Bay seems to be bright and clear, though).

  8. The pictures are a mosaic, so how far out of date they are will vary. This is one reason why there are sudden gradients between green and brown. Some of the pictures were taken in the summer and others in the winter. I assume they will be constantly updated as more pictures are taken.

    Google plans to do even cooler things with this project. They’ve made street level photographs of all the buildings in San Francisco to create a 3d model of the city (not just the terrain) and are doing the same with other cities. Soon you’ll be able to take a virtual drive down the street and look at storefronts.

  9. I focused in on North Africa and found several spots on the map with round, black dots covering parts of the map: bad photos or military cover-up?

    My hometown of Homer, Alaska has a horrid low-res photo. Same with Rexburg, Idaho.

    But my mission apartment I had for 10 months in Elgin, IL. is still there.

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