Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn
dachte

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Google Sky Bug

An amusing bug in Google Earth's sky mode that I found while browsing the stars (plus some musings):

No, that's not our planet - the software maps bookmarked places onto what's presumably the same sphere (inverted, of course) it uses to render the planet. I may be fairly distant from where I was born, but not quite Ford Prefect-level distant...

I'm amazed at how cool Google Earth (and some of the other free astronomy software out there) is. It would be neat to develop enough proficiency in tools like that to use them as teaching tools - we'd really know when we're there when random questions asked by students could smoothly be answered with off-the-cuff demonstrations. This wouldn't have to be limited to astronomy, of course -- if we were to imagine putting large amounts of effort (and software expertise) into chemistry or physics simulation, making them free and pretty and all that, with flexible displays of how much information is given and what levels of education to assume (and possibly what style of info presentation suited for the learner), the possibilities for learning are really exciting.. (quick aside: are different styles of learning, or rather the materials used for them, readily transformable from each other? machine translatable?). One of the things that Google Earth (astronomy mode) does right, I think, is provide links to astronomy databases for individual stars when people zoom in enough - these databases provide info in tabular format. Just like with a lot of the bioinformatics databases that are public in Europe now, it would be nice to develop a parser to try to flexibly present that data to users based on, again, technical sophistication and language.

Just like with on the planet, Google Earth is very poor at handling polar areas.

If I spend too much time with it, I almost feel like I'm playing with fractint... Occasionally I've heard people try to draw connections between the concepts..

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