Friday, March 30, 2007

It's easy being green: Google goes solar

Google's commitment to "green" means that the company sources carpet and sofas made without PVC, paints without volatile organic compounds, and cafeteria food from local growers. It's not surprising, then, that they would roll out the largest commercial solar deployment in the US—a 1.6MW installation that covers most of the buildings at Google's campus and extends even to shaded parking spaces. At the ETech conference in San Diego this week, Google's Anthony Ravitz explained how Google did it, and why.

The move to solar made sense for Google, and not just "hippie Gaia-loving" sense. Ravitz said that Google will earn its investment back in 7.5 years, after which it will continue to enjoy inexpensive power for decades. With the company sprawled across a large campus of many low buildings, roof space was easily available. Solar also has the unique property of pumping out more energy when power is the most expensive—peak afternoon hours. When air conditioners across California kick into action on sunny days, Google generates the most power. [...continue article]

Google Goes Back to Pre-Katrina Maps

Google's popular map portal has replaced post-Hurricane Katrina satellite imagery with pictures taken before the storm, leaving locals feeling like they're in a time loop and even fueling suspicions of a conspiracy.

Scroll across the city and the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and everything is back to normal: Marinas are filled with boats, bridges are intact and parks are filled with healthy, full-bodied trees.

"Come on," said an incredulous Ruston Henry, president of the economic development association in New Orleans' devastated Lower 9th Ward. "Just put in big bold this: 'Google, don't pull the wool over the world's eyes. Let the truth shine.'"

Chikai Ohazama, a Google Inc. product manager for satellite imagery, said the maps now available are the best the company can offer. Numerous factors decide what goes into the databases, "everything from resolution, to quality, to when the actual imagery was acquired."

He said he was not sure when the current images replaced views of the city taken after Katrina struck Aug. 29, 2005, flooding an estimated 80 percent of New Orleans.

In the images available Thursday, the cranes working to fix the breach of the 17th Street Canal are gone. Blue tarps that covered roofless homes are replaced by shingles. Homes wiped off their foundations are miraculously back in place in the Lower 9th. So, too, is the historic lighthouse on Lake Pontchartrain.

But in the Lower 9th Ward, the truth isn't as pretty, 19 months after Katrina. [...continue article]

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Can GPS Data Free British Soldiers Held Captive in Iran?

Iran has captured 15 British marines and sailors who were allegedly in Iranian waters over the weekend. However, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has released GPS data about the locations of the British soldiers about 1.7 Miles inside Iraqi waters during routine exercises away from their ship, the H.M.S. Cornwall.
Iran claimed the Brits were .5 Miles in Iranian waters and detained the sailors and marines at gunpoint. Today, they will parade the captives live on Iranian TV which regardless of guilt or innocent is something I would not expect a civilized country to do.
Whether the GPS data released by the MoD can prove the innocence of the captive Brits it does show the importance of GIS and GPS within the military field. Check out more maps and pics from Sky News on the situation.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Signs of slower ocean currents off Antarctica

The impact of global warming on the vast Southern Ocean around Antarctica is starting to pose a threat to ocean currents that distribute heat around the world, Australian scientists say, citing new deep-water data.

Melting ice-sheets and glaciers in Antarctica are releasing fresh water, interfering with the formation of dense "bottom water," which sinks 2-3 miles to the ocean floor and helps drive the world's ocean circulation system.

A slowdown in the system known as "overturning circulation" would affect the way the ocean, which absorbs 85 percent of atmospheric heat, carries heat around the globe.

Chernobyl Revisited

In 1986 just after the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown the town in what is now the Ukraine became a time capsule. Over the years a few people have taken the journey back to Chernobyl to record what it looks like. This particular journey take us back to Chernobyl with good pics and a story from the author, an American, on his trip into the hot zone.

Friday, March 23, 2007

San Francisco Giants To Install Solar Panels For Their Ballpark

As in other entertainment industries, the world of sports is recognizing the value of greening itself. On Wednesday, major league baseball signed a new player to the green team: the San Francisco Giants announced that, in partnership with Pacific Gas and Electric, they would be installing 590 solar panels on the port walk outside of the team's home field, AT&T Park. This would make the facility the first in baseball to incorporate solar technology.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

64MW Solar Installation About To Be Switched On!

One of the world's largest solar installation is about to be switched on. The project is called Nevada Solar One, and it is projected to generate 64 megawatts, when it is operational. It covers 300 acres and contain 760 mirror arrays, each measuring about 100 meters. The total number of mirrors is approximately 184,000. The solar power plant will go live next month in Boulder City, Nevada. The mirrors direct sunlight on an oil-filled tube. The oil is then used to create steam, which turns a turbine. [via]

Africa By Air

I just love post like these of Africa by air. These photos are outstanding and really show the glory that the Internet can hold. Imagine trying to do this post 10 years ago. Couldn't happen.

Why Your Death is Bad for the Environment

Uh oh. It seems like dying isn't just bad for the person who kicked the bucket. A new wave of environmentally conscious people are looking toward "Green Burials" to help ease Mother Nature in your time of need. Of course, some of it makes sense. Pumping something full of chemicals to preserve it then sticking it in the ground to alter the ground water is sure to be an issue. This guy has some opinions on the matter.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

$3 billion proposed for National Parks

Being in the heart of East Tennessee means being close to the busiest National Park in the U.S., the Great Smoky Mountains. Our National Parks are the heart of this country because we have chosen to recognize the beauty and uniqueness of nature. Keeping the Parks funded has been a problem in the past which leads to neglect and damage that sometimes can be hard or impossible to replace.

Luckily, the Bush Administration has green-lighted a $3 Billion increase in the National Parks budget. Wow! Talk about a step in the right direction.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


First, Iran as you've never seen it before. Enjoy this rich photo essay of the most misunderstood country in the world. It's a fantastic view of the Iranian world from the inside. Elegant Mosques, beautiful scenery, and a very unique culture are highlighted with a trained eye.

Second, a nice photo essay below from National Geographic from 1953 of a visit to Mecca for a religious pilgrimage. The images show a stunning view of the Middle Eastern World on many levels from a more innocent time.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Great Barrier Reef , Australia : Largest natural feature on the Earth
The power of the Internet allows us to easily gather cool facts and pics. Sometimes, we use this power for good instead of funny videos and half-naked (or totally naked. Your call.) women. Take this cool collection of the World's Most Extreme sites. The Google Community has made a nice collection of the highest mountains, shortest rivers, biggest buildings, largest seeds, or just about anything they could get their hands on.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Google wins key ruling in patent dispute over Earth software

Online search leader Google Inc. has won a key court ruling in a patent dispute over its popular three-dimensional software that provides Internet tours of the Earth.

In a summary judgment issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock in Massachusetts decided that Google Earth doesn't infringe on a patent issued to Skyline Software Systems Inc. in 2002.

Skyline, a privately held company in Chantilly, Va., had been pursuing a patent infringement claim since 2004 when it first sued Keyhole Inc., whose technology powers Google Earth. Mountain View-based Google bought Keyhole for an undisclosed amount in October 2004.

Keyhole's 3-D technology powers mapping software that ranks among Google's biggest successes outside of its search engine. Google said its Earth software has been downloaded more than 100 million times [...continue article]

GIS to replace paper maps in evaluating land

A new geographical information system, or GIS, NATCHEZ county has been working on for months recently completed a big step.

Among other things, the system replaces old paper tax maps with a computerized version.

A company hired by the county recently finished translating the paper maps into electronic ones. Then, they superimposed the maps on aerial photographs of the same plots, making a much more accurate and easy-to-read map, Tax Assessor Reynolds Atkins said.

“These things are so far advanced, it’s unreal,” Atkins said. “We’re not just using some archaic method of evaluating property.”

The new GIS will replace the old “blue line” paper maps in evaluating property, Atkins said. It’s more accurate and more detailed, allowing him to see buildings he couldn’t before.

The system has other uses, too, Atkins said. From locating an emergency to finding fire hydrants, the electronic GIS will make things easier, he said.

“I like to think of GIS as smart maps,” Adams County GIS project manager Peter Dale said.

“It combines computers, databases, maps, planning and development. It’s designed to help local government make decisions.”

An added benefit the system provides is a tool for businesses looking at the area. [...continue article]

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Invasion of the Giant Seals

Yes people, there really is an absolutely enormous seal in The Hague, Netherlands. Apparently it belongs to the International Fund for Animal Welfare.


Someone posted a find in Google Maps of what they claimed was a cruise missile in flight over south central Utah captured in the satellite photo. However, on the Google Earth Blog the guys got to work on the picture and concluded it is really just a jet with dark wings. It's hard to see at first, but you can look hard and see wings shadowed.