Lobby art: a giant real-time globe


Some years ago, Al Gore wanted to spend a lot of money to put up a satellite which would transmit a live view of the whole Earth (well the half it could see) to make people more eco-conscious.

I figured it should be possible to generate the same view with some careful combination of weather satellite images and other satellite images. Yes, sometimes the view in one place might be an hour old while it's near live in another, but with clever blending you would never know.

So the next thing I want somebody to do with this is build a giant globe to go in some corporate or museum lobby, and project this image of the planet onto it. That's not so easy, since I want lots of resolution which means many overlapping projectors.

Ideally you would project from inside. Antarctica would probably lose out though if you tilted the planet 23 degrees, or even an amount corresponding to the locations lattitude you could find ways to put the bottom on boring ocean. You could also project from outside, which is a challenge since the screen is not equadistant. I don't know if a mix would be possible. As noted, one idea would be to show the Earth at is truly is, so the lit part is looking towards the sun as people see it out the windows.

I would want to get close to the globe, but I think the best view would be from a moderate distance, far enough away that we have one pixel per minute of arc or so, the resolution of the human eye. As close as we can get to seeing it in space. (In that case we would want a darker room, not a lobby, and even put a moon on the walls. But a corporate lobby seems like a better way to fund a project like this.)



I have a feeling I have seen mention of other such projects on a bigger scale, but a quick Google turned up that commercially available 2 meter one.

Projecting on a globe has of course been done before. The key thing I am talking about is what Al Gore was talking about (that's when I first came up with this, actually.) The true view of the earth, real time, from satellites. Eartha is of course not a projection, and is cloudless. The omniglobe brochure looks like they have some store images of the Earth, but not real ones.

The assembled real time view would of course be popular not just for globes.

Is this what you mean:


That's very close. It doesn't appear to have a nightside. There are arguments for and against that. Nightsides are more realistic of course but then people can only see certain parts of the Earth when the museum is closed. It seems to use panels which would be higher resolution, but not give the image of looking at the planet from space.

The Delorme map company has a giant photorealistic rotating globe, though admittedly not real-time, in their lobby. They call it Eartha, and will sell you one of your own if you have a few million to spare. Shame about the poor-quality PDF sales brochure.

Hey Brad,
Have you heard about Douglas Coupland’s Dglobe? It shows up as the killer product near the end of JPod, his latest novel about typical semi-autistic game programmers. [Funny, light reading].

From the Guardian:

“And he expanded on one grand idea in JPod, which is for every school and home to one day have his globe, a DGlobe, 'by using a spherical liquid crystal screen programmed with proprietary 3-D cartographic algorithms', which can show, in 60 seconds or two hours or whatever you want, the movement of tectonic plates, the last and next Ice Age, the world in your front room. 'Isn't it a great idea? I want it to happen - dammit, I really want that globe to happen: and if or when someone does make it, they'll clean up.'

I just finished reading Jpod and when I googled dglobe to see if it was gonna happen, I got a link to this page, of course. I searched it because it's a pretty great idea. Since I read the book I've been thinking about how much one might cost; I'd buy one but, couldn't you pretty much do the same thing on a computer these days? But still, a computer is not a globe, and it'd be one pretty groovy globe.

Don't you think it would have to have pretty high resolution for it be really revolutionary?
I mean, how many interesting varitations can you do before you get bored? I know from experience when using the Google Earth software that my curiosity makes me want to magnify more and more and more.... and I always get frustrated when it gets all pixely.
The point is - the globe can only show ALL of the earth to be effectful.

Still - I think it's a really cool idea.

I have always had this idea in my head about a real time globe. With all the current weather patterns, just like if you were viewing it from space. It would be the size of a basketball. When you touched the surface it would give you the current weather info of the region. Inside the base would be a wireless modem that could connect with the internet to retrive the information.

Projecting the image from the inside would be the key. Then you could project every planet in the solar system on it. The other planets would not be real time of course, but it would be cool to see a globe of another planet. I found this website because i have had the idea of this stuck in my head for a year. I mean it's not that far fetched is it? Maybe Al Gore will bank roll me-


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