Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If Robert Scoble becomes Roy Orbison, will he start wearing dark glasses?


Although TechCrunch had already spilled the beans, Robert Scoble honored his commitment and refrained from writing about Microsoft's WorldWide Telescope until today's post, entitled "What made me cry: Microsoft’s World Wide Telescope."

In the post, Scoble tries to communicate his wonder at what he saw when he visited Curtis Wong and Jonathan Fay:

You drag around the sky. There’s Mars. There’s the big dipper. There’s Beetlejuice. Etc. It’s just like the star party you probably attended in college.

But it has one difference between any telescope you’ve ever looked at.

You can zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.

We picked a point of light inside the big dipper. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom. Holy shit, it’s two galaxies colliding. It looked like a star. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.

Now the magic happened.

Curtis Wong said: “let’s switch to a different telescope and see what these two galaxies colliding are spitting out.”

He clicked a button and we saw a completely different view of the same colliding galaxies. This time we weren’t looking at visible light, but at something else. I think it might have been infrared, or maybe a look at radiation being kicked out.

Scoble also noted the following:

It’s free, but only in a private alpha right now. I’m not sure when it’ll be released to the public.


[I]t isn’t the product that’s impressive. You’ve gotta see this thing to really understand. My video will be up on Monday.

I ended up making the following comment:

Perhaps I’m parochial, but what excites me about Google Maps and Google Earth is the personal connection that I have, or want to have, with the places I’m viewing. When I look at a Google Earth view of Mikkeli, Finland, I get excited because our Finnish exchange student is studying there. When I look at a Google Earth view of Itajai, Brazil, I get excited because I spent a wonderful weekend in a nature preserve in the area several years ago.

When TechCrunch spilled the beans on WorldWide Telescope on February 18, my first thought was a “so what”? Again, this view is probably parochial, but I probably won’t be leaving this galaxy in my lifetime, so I don’t see how I can form a personal connection with a zoomed view of another galaxy.

Then again, I have not seen WorldWide Telescope yet. It may be possible that when I see it, I (like others that you have mentioned) will be transported to another dimension, musing on the vastness of the universe and (if I may say this) on the truly awesome nature of God’s creation.

We’ll see.

Kahm made the following observations:

I used to be really interested in the Heavens but well not so much now. I don’t know why. People change I guess. I like building with my hands. And usually I’m building computers. I live in a very nice place for skywatching. It’s an easy hike to get away from our street lights and you can even find unobstructed views of a lot of the night sky. Who knows, maybe I’ll get back into it with this. Maybe my kid’s interest in space will blossom and it will hook me again. Oh well here’s hoping.

And since I ended my previous post on this topic with a YouTube video, here comes another one.

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