Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Google Earth (Mac Version)

Today Google announced that the long-awaited version of Google Earth is in beta form for Mac OS X. I instantly downloaded the free version and it works fine. I had previously seen it working on a PC and was hoping that Google would deliver sooner rather than later. Sooner is never soon enough when all my Windoze friends are already boasting about it!

Some of the things you can do with Google Earth are quite simply fascinating. I am not writing about geographically contextual advertising here, by the way, though this is presumably why Google is offering the service. As a geologist the implications of visualizing the surface of the earth can be profound. The key to this is in the control buttons for tilting and rotating an image. For example, find a suitable piece of desert topography, zoom in, tilt and then rotate! Works best where there is high resolution imagery, of course. Here is an oblique view of the Chisos Mountains, Big Bend National Park:

The computer requirements for Google Earth include the need to have OS X 10.4 installed but the other requirements are relatively universal if you have a Mac less than 4 years old.