You can alter the elevation of the earth via an embedded digital elevation map, and you can get some rather interesting results.
If you look closely, the Washington Monument is looking a bit limp!
The winds of change are blowing and they have blown a new piece of software my way that I absolutely love. The intelligent folks over at NASA have brought geovisualization to a new level with their release of World Wind. It’s free, open source, and for a geography nerd, the most fun I’ve had in a long time playing with a globe. I only wish it was available for Mac OS X.
Currently on the geovisualization market is Keyhole and ESRI’s Arc Globe. I already have Arc Globe, which works nicely, but I haven’t spent very much time getting geospatial data to line up properly on the globe. On the other hand, Keyhole gives you very high resolution imagery for the entire planet from Digital Globe’s Quickbird satellite, but it costs you $30. I am not about to pay for something like this when I can get roughly the same imagery for free.
What I like most about World Wind is how the imagery is downloaded on the fly and the way that all the data is geocached for later use. After spending a few hours with World Wind, I obtained the entire DC area in .3m resolution; the same 2002 USGS imagery I have been using for most of my renderings (I nearly have the entire DC area in high resolution tiffs, it takes a long time to acquire the imagery!). I also like how World Wind has a great user community, which has quite a few user created add-ons that give World Wind more customization.
I have a date at a grade school next week to talk about careers in geography, and I am really hoping I get to show some of the students the fun that can be had learning about the area they live in through aerial & satellite imagery! I think they’ll jaws will drop, or maybe mine still hasn’t been picked up from the floor. Maybe the World Wind blow will you over ;-)