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Posts Tagged ‘gps

“The metabolic rate of geology is too slow for us to perceive it”*…

 

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Researchers modeled continental drift, going back 240 million years ago, on the scale of millimeters per year. It starts really slow and as if the supports give way to the separating pressure, there’s a relative burst of movement.

The full paper is in Nature, and the interactive version, which is a bit rough around the edges, can be found here. Select the time, rotate the planet around, and press play to watch the continents break apart.

From Flowing Data: “Continental drift, from 240 million years ago to present.”

(While the changes are slow, they are in fact detectable in the course of a human life; c.f., “Australia’s Entire GPS Navigation is Off By 5 Feet.”)

* Russell Banks, Continental Drift

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As we slip and slide, we might spare a thought for William Buckland; he died on this date in 1856.  A English theologian who became Dean of Westminster, he was also a paleontologist (who wrote the first full account of a fossil dinosaur, which he named Megalosaurus) and a geologist (who was known for his effort to reconcile geological discoveries with the Bible and anti-evolutionary theories).  A gentleman of some eccentricity, Buckland undertook his field work wearing an academic gown.

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Written by LW

August 15, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Location, location, location”*…

 

London tech start-up What3Words has created a new approach to location that could improve lives and economies around the world:

Julius Caesar famously divided Gaul into three parts. [What3Words founder Chris] Sheldrick and his team have gone a little further, dividing the earth’s surface — land, sea and ice caps included — into 57tn 3m-squares, each assigned a unique three-word identifier. What3Words’s entire address is just index.home.raft. Furthermore, a free smartphone app can identify any What3Words location in the world, even if the phone is offline… according to What3Words, 75 per cent of the world’s population has no address; imagine the benefit to an African villager of having Amazon packages delivered as if he lived in a city with a formal postal address. Imagine the benefit to Amazon, too.

Then there are places you would imagine have street addresses, but do not. Japan, for example, is a delivery person’s nightmare: just one complication among many is that homes are numbered according to when they were built. Many Middle East countries’ addresses are famously shambolic. “Dubai expats filling in US tax forms often have to draw a picture of where they live”…

How did Mr Sheldrick, a musician by training, come up with the idea? He was a band manager and had to get trucks of equipment and performers to venues. “It was obvious that postcodes were not fit for purpose. A venue like the Birmingham NEC has one code and many entrances.” He would give 20-digit GPS co-ordinates to drivers for satnavs. When one driver reversed two numbers and ended up more than 50 miles from his Rome destination, Mr Sheldrick decided to take action…

Find your place at “What3Words: new tech that will find any location.”

* real estate agents’ mantra

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As we zero in, we might recall that it was on this date in 1942 that The Alaska Highway (AKA, the Alaska-Canadian Highway, or ALCAN Highway) opened.  Spurred by the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Dec 1941, the highway, deemed a military necessity, was completed at mile 1202, Beaver Creek , when the 97th Engineers met the 18th Engineers.  Originally approximately 1,700 miles long, it now runs 1,387 miles– the difference due to constant reconstruction of the highway, which has rerouted and straightened out numerous sections. Opened to the public in 1948, the road was legendary over many decades for being a rough, challenging drive; the highway is now paved over its entire length.

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Written by LW

October 29, 2015 at 1:01 am

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