A video I created for this blog was shown today by Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, on NASA Select TV during a lecture he gave at a NASA 50th Anniversary lecture series in Washington, DC! I had read somewhere that Eric Schmidt was going to be giving a presentation at NASA so I set up to watch it. Imagine my surprise seeing the Swiss Alps Fighter Tour video demonstrated! (NOTE: NASA is broadcasting Eric’s talk again on NASA Select at 4:00 PM EST, it may be on again at 10 PM EST, and/or 6 AM EST)
Eric’s talk started out by describing the ways Google is using some of NASA’s data to do things like show the 3D terrain in Google Earth, satellite imagery, Hubble Space Telescope images in Sky, moon data in Google Moon, etc. Eric demonstrated (with help from Google Earth team member Robin Zeigler) several things in Google Earth including 3D buildings, the Hurricane Katrina time animation by Brian Flood, one of the several rising water animations, and my Swiss Fighter tour video. He also talked about the project that Vint Cerf is involved with to create an interplanetary Internet by linking together exploratory spacecraft. He urged NASA to architect their projects more like Internet projects in the technology industry. He thinks NASA should try many different smaller projects simultaneously rather than putting all their eggs in one basket with a single large mission. This way NASA has a much greater chance of success on risky missions. (Hopefully NASA will post an archived copy of the video of Eric’s lecture – I’ll post it here if they do.)
So, about the Swiss Alps video Eric showed: I created the video to illustrate how realistic the new Swiss Alps 3D terrain was in Google Earth by simulating the same flight flown by a real Swiss Air Force fighter pilot in another popular YouTube video. You can play the two YouTube videos simultaneously and see how similar the two videos look (turn off the sound on the second, Google Earth, video). By the way, this is how Eric had it demonstrated as well – both videos together:
A little more background on the video: I dreamed up the idea shortly after the Swiss Alps 3D terrain was released in Google Earth. I wanted a way to illustrate how cool I thought the new data was, and someone had coincidentally sent me the Swiss fighter YouTube video. It took me like 8 hours to figure out all the places where the fighter flew, and to practice flying each sequence until I got a close approximation of the real video. My wife came in asking me what I was doing that was taking so long. And I told her – “Well, I’m making this video for a blog entry – and I’m hoping I’ll get some geek cred for doing it. Maybe it will get a Digg or something.“. The video was a pretty big hit and got something like 50,000 views in the first two weeks. A couple of weeks later, I got a call from one of the managers of the Google Earth project at Google who told me a funny thing. He said: “I just went to make a presentation on Google Earth to Eric Schmidt and as I walked in the door he says: ‘Hey, did you see that cool video Frank Taylor made of the Swiss Alps?’.” Eric Schmidt is well known as a geek himself, so I told my wife I definitely earned some major geek cred. This was about 9 months ago. So, I wasn’t totally surprised to see Eric showing it at NASA – but, it was still a pretty cool thing to see nonetheless!