We’ve seen some truly amazing stories of late about impressively sophisticated mapping techniques: a new map of the ocean floor based on Earth’s gravity field; entire buildings 3-D mapped in real time with a mobile device; citizen scientists use drones to map flooding; a spectacular new image of the Milky Way at submillimeter wavelengths; volunteer engineers, designers and data scientists help map Zika; a century of data used to create a modern, digital geologic map of Alaska; a haunting interactive map shows every nuclear detonation since 1945; computer vision cracks plant leaf code with heat mapping; crowdsourcing site maps Zika reports; three spacecraft map Mars gravity; and a mind-bending collection of maps shows what’s at the opposite end of the horizon.
Beyond the Sea: If We Could See Across the Ocean
Did you know that if you are gazing across the water from a beach on the U.S. east coast, you’re more likely to be looking out over South America or Africa than Europe? What’s really across the ocean when you look straight out may not be the place you believe should be there. A cartographer has created a mind-bending collection of maps to show who we would actually be waving to if we could spot land at the opposite end of the horizon.
Three Spacecraft Map Mars Gravity
A new map of Mars’ gravity made with three NASA spacecraft is the most detailed to date, providing a revealing glimpse into the hidden interior of the Red Planet. The map was derived using Doppler and range tracking data collected by NASA’s Deep Space Network from three NASA spacecraft in orbit around Mars.
Crowdsourcing Site Works to Detect Spread of Zika
Last month, the Flu Near You crowdsourcing tool expanded its data collection to include Zika, chikungunya and dengue symptoms, such as eye pain, yellow skin/eyes and joint/bone pain. Created by epidemiologists at Harvard, Boston Children’s Hospital and The Skoll Global Threats Fund, Flu Near You is a free and anonymous site and mobile application that allows the public to report their health information by completing brief weekly surveys.
All We Are is Dust in the Interstellar Wind
Cosmic dust is not simply something to sweep under the rug and forget about. Instead, astronomers are studying and even mapping it to learn more about what it might be hiding from us, where it comes from, and what it’s turning into. Some are delving deep down to see how dust comes together at the atomic level, while others are looking at the big picture to see where stars and planets might be forming in dusty stellar nurseries.
Computer Vision Cracks Plant Leaf Code
A computer program that learns and can categorize leaves into large evolutionary categories, such as plant families, will lead to greatly improved fossil identification and a better understanding of flowering plant evolution. Instead of producing only a black box of results, the computer generates a “heat” map directly on the leaf image, identifying and rating areas of importance for correct identification.
Haunting Interactive Map Shows Every Nuclear Detonation since 1945
The U.S. Army carried out the first-ever successful nuclear detonation on July 16, 1945. Known as “Trinity,” the explosion was detonated in New Mexico’s Jornada del Muerto desert. This experimental trial marked the start of a new kind of arms race and kicked off what became known as the “Nuclear Age.” Now, thousands of successful nuclear detonations since 1945 can be viewed in a new interactive online map.
How We Used a Century of Data to Create a Modern, Digital Geologic Map of Alaska
When my colleagues and I began working on a new geologic map of Alaska in the late 1990s, we decided to structure it quite differently from the previous version, published back in 1980. This time around, we’d tap into Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. Though what we recently released is called the Geologic Map of Alaska, it’s really a database from which many different maps can be created.
Google to help UNICEF Map Zika Virus using Open-source Platform
As the Zika virus outbreak continues to raise concern world-wide, Google has announced that its engineers are working with UNICEF “to find better ways to visualize the threat.” A volunteer team of Google engineers, designers and data scientists is helping UNICEF build a platform to process data from different sources — such as weather and travel patterns — in order to visualize potential Zika outbreaks.
Milky Way Survey Completed
A spectacular new image of the Milky Way has been released to mark the completion of the APEX Telescope Large Area Survey of the Galaxy (ATLASGAL). The APEX telescope in Chile has mapped the full area of the Galactic Plane visible from the southern hemisphere for the first time at submillimeter wavelengths — between infrared light and radio waves — and in finer detail than recent space-based surveys.
Citizen Scientists Use Drones to Map El Nino Flooding
Forget about selfies. In California, residents are using smartphones and drones to document the coastline’s changing face. Starting this month, The Nature Conservancy is asking tech junkies to capture flooding and coastal erosion that come with El Nino. The idea is that crowd-sourced, geotagged images of storm surges and flooded beaches will give scientists a brief window into what the future holds as sea levels rise from global warming.
Entire Buildings 3-D Mapped in Real Time with Mobile Device
When Schöps wants to create a 3-D model of the ETH Zurich main building, he pulls out his tablet computer. As he completes a leisurely walk around the structure, he keeps the device’s rear-facing camera pointing at the building’s façade. Bit by bit, an impressive model of the edifice appears on the screen. It takes Schöps just 10 minutes to digitize the building. He developed the software as part of Google’s Project Tango.
Seafloor Map Helps Scientists Find Features as Narrow as 3 Miles
A scientific team recently published a new map of the ocean floor based on Earth’s gravity field, and it is a particularly useful tool. Such seafloor maps can aid submariners and ship captains with navigation, particularly in previously uncharted areas. They are helpful to prospectors scouting for oil, gas and mineral resources. And the maps comprise nearly 80 percent of the seafloor seen when you scroll through Google Earth.
R&D 100 AWARD ENTRIES NOW OPEN: Establish your company as a technology leader! For more than 50 years, the R&D 100 Awards have showcased new products of technological significance. You can join this exclusive community! Learn more.