Top 10 secrets of Google Earth
1. THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD
The seven new wonders of the world were named last summer and this KML file takes you on a virtual tour of all of them. Turn on the 3D Buildings layer in the bottom left of the Google Earth interface, and landmarks such as the Colosseum spring out of the ground, giving you a real sense of scale. Each of the wonders comes with a picture and text description of its history. It might be a myth that the Great Wall of China is the only manmade object you can see from the Moon, but it’s clearly visible in Google Earth.
2. FEEL THE EARTH MOVE
If a minor tremble knocks a plate off a mantelpiece in Birmingham it’s front-page news, but earthquakes are surprisingly common in the rest of the world. The US Geological Survey tracks earthquakes in real-time and exports the data to Google Earth, allowing you to see at-a-glance which parts of the planet are rumbling. Each entry provides details of the earthquake’s magnitude on the Richter Scale and links to the USGS website to get a wealth of detailed information in-screen.
3. NEIL ARMSTRONG’S BIOGRAPHY
Track the life of the first man on the moon, with this annotated guide to his extraordinary career. Each of the 69 placemarks provides detailed information and pictures from Armstrong’s childhood, right through to him receiving NASA’s Ambassador of Exploration Award in 2006. Did you know, for example, that his parents watched the moon landing from their house on Neil Armstrong Drive (mapped here) because where he grew up had already been named after him following his Gemini 8 exploits?
4. VISIT EVERY PREMIERSHIP GROUND
You don’t need to pay extortionate ticket prices to visit every football ground in the country – you can be the ultimate armchair fan and take a tour of every Premiership ground in about five minutes from this site. Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium is still full of rubble, and Fulham’s sponsor Pipex doesn’t miss a trick with its stadium-roof advertising (see no. 10). There’s links to every football league club stadium here as well.
5. OIL GUZZLERS REVEALED
Google Earth can present data in a way that makes even Excel 2007 look desperately plodding. Take this layer, for example, with each country rendered to a height proportional to its oil consumption. Heavy guzzlers are shown in red; light consumers are shown in green. Those jutting scarlet towers you can see emerging from the Atlantic are our friends in the US.
6. WEATHER WATCHING
You can keep an eye on tropical storms, cloud maps or even hurricanes with this impressive collection of real-time weather updates for Google Earth. The list of folders and subfolders contained within this KML fi le is a little bewildering at first, and you probably won’t want more than one layer selected at any time, but the depth of information available is staggering. The live animation of lightning strikes is, frankly, terrifying.