The lumpy 3D Earth

The entire universe in blog form
April 21 2011 6:59 AM

The lumpy 3D Earth

Last month, scientists using the GOCE spacecraft released a model of the Earth's geoid: essentially, a shape telling you which way is down. If the Earth were a perfectly smooth sphere of constant density throughout, gravity would pull you straight down to the center (perpendicular to the surface). But if a dense hill were nearby, the gravity of that hill would change the direction of the force of gravity. The geoid maps that, and is very useful to understand things like ocean currents and such.

The resulting geoid resembles a bizarre, lumpy Earth. It was pretty neat, but now Nathanial Burton-Bradford has made it better: he took the data and made 3D anaglyphs!

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies!  

Advertisement

This one shows the view over North and South America. It doesn't look like much to the eye, but if you have red/green or red/blue 3D glasses, the 3D jumps right out at you. He has lots more of these from various angles over the Earth's geoid model, and man are they weird. There's something truly odd about seeing the Earth this way.

He has lots of other 3D images he's made (I've linked to his incredible Apollo pictures before), including some amazing ones of icicles and such, at that link. If you have the 3D glasses it's really worth perusing them.



Related posts: