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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Playing in a New Sandbox

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Sunday, April 5, 2015/Categories: video, sustainability, art and design, environment

I grew up on two blocks from the Pacific Ocean. I still remember hearing waves crashing on the beach at night. When my surfer-dude nephew was four years old, I took him to a secluded cove that few people knew or visited. I read my book and he dug a hole in the sand with his pail and scoop. When I asked him what he was doing, he answered instantly: "looking for doubloons", the lost pirate treasure coins. He didn't find any but continued doing what countless other kids have done before and since when they went to the beach, play in the sand,

Times have changed in unimaginable ways since the 1960's with new technologies allowing the creation of beach scenes that no one could have ever predicted. Combining the tools of 'big data' with topographic visualization capabilities of geographic information systems (GIS), teams of researchers are now developing ways to utilize vast amounts of data in predictive models. Visualizing potential environmental impacts from tsunami's, earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, and all nature of catastrophes allows development of plans to mitigate damage from coastal zones and make them more resilient.

A leading group applying 'big data' science to geography is the  Geographic Information Network of Alaska (GINA). In association with  Oliver Kreylos  at UC Davis, a digital "sandbox" has been created to test extreme impact scenarios by visualizing data in entirely new ways. Often called  augmented reality  , these new visualization tools are finding uses in very unrelated areas including medicine, geology, architecture, the military, engineering, and film animation. The uses are limited only by the imagination...and the 'big data' available.

Imagine playing in a "digital sandbox" of your own::


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