Google Earth Flights

I am re-teaching myself how to use Google Earth’s animation features because I found myself re-thinking my Louisiana folklore course for the fall. I had to put in my book order last week, at long last, and I could not find a good Louisiana history text that I felt comfortable using. I have, in the past, used some of Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s “Louisiana: A History” series, but I no longer feel comfortable doing so, for a variety of reasons, the chief of which is that it does not support thinking about groups and cultures as I would like.

That puts me on my own, and I hope to use a combination of timelines and maps to give students in the course the precise encapsulated history they need in order to avoid the usual traps when thinking about folklore — it’s “old timey” or “it’s Cajun.” The project-oriented frame I want to use this semester will, I hope emphasize a more open-ended, discovery-based approach to folk culture.

Now to Google Earth…

First, thank you Google for providing some [great tutorials][gt].

One form of animation that GE offers is a “tour” based on a series of placemarks that you drop onto GE using the “Add Placemark” button on the GE toolbar. The trick is make sure you click on the *View* tab in the placemark dialogue box and set your view using “Snapshot current view.” (You get the dialogue by right-clicking on the placemark in the pane.)

All your tour options are through the Google Earth app itself, with the exception of making movies, which requires GE Pro. I have yet to try out the Pro version, but the good news is that there is a [Google Earth Pro Grant for Educators][gep] program.

[gt]: http://www.google.com/earth/learn/beginner.html#placemarks-and-tours
[gep]: http://sitescontent.google.com/google-earth-for-educators/google-earth-pro-grants-wizard

Movement of North Pole Accelerates

Just in time for Christmas, [*Scientific American* reported][sa] on some recent research that speculates about why the movement of the North Pole has recently accelerated from its its usual speed of 15 kilometers per year to 55 kilometers per year: some scientists are speculating it could be a function of magnetic plumes emanating from the core — one imagines something like solar flares but instead of it happening in space it is occurring within the dense field of liquid rock.

For those who are curious, the north magnetic pole (NMP) was first located in 1831 on Canada’s Boothia Peninsular. It drifted for a while before bolting north-northwest for Siberia.

[sa]: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/post.cfm?id=why-is-the-north-magnetic-pole-raci-2010-12-24