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Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Future of Globes - In Space & On Earth

In the previous post, we mentioned the origin of world globes – how the earliest record of world globes of Crates of Mallus dating around 150 BC (celestial globes are said to have been invented even earlier). Globes were created to enable us to understand our home world better.  It has been more than two thousand years since then. Globes have come a long way from this:

Crates Terrestrial Sphere
World Globe of Crates of Mallus (around 150 BC).

To this:

Google Earth
Google Earth

From "high-touch" to "high-tech" virtual globes. If science-fiction movies are proven right, and we get to go to other planets, world (and other planet) globes and star maps would be much more sophisticated than Google Earth.

Console of Prometheus' recon ship
Console of the recon ship (Prometheus Movie)

Given more advanced technology, we might even get to make something as magical as this:

The Engineers control room (Prometheus Movie)
The Engineers' control room (Prometheus Movie)

A Space-ial Future

Yes, if space is the future of mankind, space is also the future of world globes. In fact, globes were used by astronauts (especially Soviet cosmonauts) in the Space Race as navigation equipment:

Voskhod spacecraft IMP 'Globus' navigation instrument, full view
Voskhod spacecraft IMP 'Globus' navigation instrument

But no amount of sophistication can replace the sentimental value of a simple globe. Look at this glimpse into the life of astronauts at the International Space Station:



Notice the classroom globe at 1:59 of the clip:

Classroom Globe at upper left
You can also see a model earth at 4:18-4:21 of this clip:



At this time, sophisticated onboard maps and virtual globes in laptops are already available to the astronauts/cosmonauts. Why bother to take a bulky model of the earth with you? Even the planned Russian Commercial Space Station has a globe in it:

computer generated view of the inside of the Commercial Space Station
Russian Commercial Space Station


No space like home

Yup, it's about homesickness. Globes are simple, powerful mementos of home. On leaving, people want to bring a little something they can touch to remind them of home, of where they came from, of who they are. Touch is a very human thing. No amount of features and virtuality can replace the draw of something you can  hold and touch. Even a modern, computerized virtual globe such as this aspires to be touched:

Interactive-Globus
Interactive Globus

If you're leaving the earth (even if only for the neighborhood space), what better keepsake to bring to remind you of earth than a touchable model earth – even one as simple as a classroom globe?


Waypoint Geographic Earth & Constellations Globe


Teach children of home, so when they leave, they won't forget who they are.
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