Monday, April 19, 2010

Earth Day on Washington Mall opens, with NASA offering an interesting "short film" as a java application you can download

Today I also visited the semi-opening of the Earth Day exhibit on the Mall in Washington.

The most interesting working exhibit was the NASA Tent Cinema, where a scientist from JPL in California demonstrated a “film” from a Max Computer running an application called “Eyes on the Earth”, in Firefox.

The visitor can download this application from NASA on either the Mac or PC presumably in any major browser. I did it in Firefox, which had been updated with the latest java yesterday (you have to download the viewer before the data loads, but the website doesn’t say that). The website URL is this.

The “film” shows the “gravity density” of various portions of the earth as viewed by triangulating between two satellites. The film shows how rainfall varies in various basins such as the Amazon, since water is relatively dense (remember chemistry class?) The film shows how, with gravitational analysis, we can determine that the Greenland ice cap is melting with disturbing speed.

By the way, on the way home, I noticed this interesting sign on Metro, which did not want to name another famous subway system. (I also saw transit workers on the tracks at Rosslyn, something I’ve never seen before.) Why don’t they set up the Smart Card so it works on multiple transit systems?

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