Google Dives In

Google Earth is getting a facelift -- of sorts. If you're a regular user, then you've noticed that about 70 percent of the Earth's surface has been, well, missing from the exploratory features. But with the latest update, Google Earth 5.0, people will now be able to dive into the deep blue from their desktop.

Google partnered with countless scientists and organizations worldwide from NOAA to the Navy to create a realistic map of the ocean floor using bathymetry (underwater topography), and there are many "hot spots" or icons to click on to get more information like video, photos, and research data. While it's not like you can quite swim with the fishes, you can cruise the ocean floor and see the depth or relation to the land. And the collection of video and photos is growing all the time, much like the organic nature of Google Earth itself.

There is even a fish tracker that let's users follow the path of an actual shark off the coast of California, a number of shipwrecks near places like Hawaii, and plenty of photos of quirky creatures like the vampire squid. There's definitely a "gee whiz" factor, but it's also meant as a rich database for scientists and an educational tool for students. It's also a way to raise awareness about ocean issues from the plight of coral reefs to endangered species. Plus, for tourists, you might get a sense of some cool surf spots since it will have material from the surface and coasts, too.

To check it out just download the latest Google Earth and start clicking. You can also follow the Google blog on the subject right here. For more, be sure to watch the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric tonight.

In the meantime, stay connected.
  • Daniel Sieberg

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