Google Earth review

Whether you want to view a lifelike rendering of your city or town, preview your next holiday destination, or explore a famous location, Google Maps brings you outstanding world maps with several layers of information that you can customize according to your needs. This is one of those great apps that you should definitely have on your device.


Many optional layers of information: Google Maps lets you customize which layers of information you want to see: Places, Businesses, Panoramic Photos, Wikipedia, Borders and Labels, Roads, 3D Buildings, and Ocean. The ability to customize them makes the app versatile and … Read more

Star Apps: Earth, Wind & Fire

Earth, Wind & Fire's longtime frontman, Philip Bailey, talks about jazz as if he's talking about a school sweetheart. "Jazz was always my first musical genre love," he says. "[Music] always feels like it's an astro-travel of sorts." Fans can go along for the ride June 28-29 when eight-time Grammy winners and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame members Earth, Wind & Fire headline the Saratoga Jazz Festival, which also features Trombone Shorty, Patti Austin, and Terence Blanchard. Bailey is promoting his new album, "Now, Then & Forever," and his autobiography, &… Read more

E3 2014 recap: New PC games

Start saving your pennies and spring-training your thumbs. At this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), developers announced dozens of games for every platform and showed some enticing trailers to boot. Many games won't be out until fall, or even next year, but a handful come out this month, and you can sign up for some betas.

Read on to find out which games are coming to PC in 2014 and 2015. For console news, GameSpot has the release lists for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Wii U.

PC games with release dates Alien Isolation, … Read more

Earth for Mac review

Earth for Mac lets you open a spinning picture of the Earth created from satellite images in real time right on your dashboard. Anytime you need a little perspective on life, just take a look at the beautiful world we live in spinning around, and lose yourself in the wonder of it all.

This app doesn't really have any features to speak of except the ability to open one or more images of the Earth. You can move these images around on your dashboard, and they spin slowly as the earth rotates, so you can get a look at … Read more

Explore life on our planet with this interactive documentary app

Brian Cox's Wonders of Life is another scientific app based on a show from the BBC, with great video and interactive sections that help you learn the scientific basis for life as we know it. Professor Brian Cox is your guide and narrator as you explore the app.

In the past, I wrote about Wonders of the Universe from the same publisher; an elegant and visually gorgeous app that let you explore our known universe on your iPad.

I liked Wonders of the Universe quite a lot for the ability to explore the universe and the HD graphics (particularly … Read more

4.4 billion-year-old crystal points to chill early Earth

A tiny piece of crystal found on a sheep farm in Australia is giving researchers insight into the very early formation of the Earth and its crust. The microscopic zircon crystal under study is said to be made of the oldest known material formed on Earth, dating from soon after the molten rock that originally formed the planet had cooled.

The discovery helps to push the clock back on the formation of oceans and early life. "This confirms our view of how the Earth cooled and became habitable. This may also help us understand how other habitable planets would form," says lead researcher John Valley, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.… Read more

Hear the music a 16th-century artist etched on a man's butt

There's a lot going on in painter Hieronymus Bosch's turn of the 16th century-era triptych, "The Garden of Earthly Delights." Its central and right panels show humans in the eponymous garden and hell respectively. It is, in fact, the hell panel where Bosch's truly wicked sense of humor shines through in the various ingenious tortures he devised for sinners.

It was on one such torture victim that Amelia, a music student at Oklahoma Christian University, found several phrases of sheet music inscribed. On the man's bottom, to be precise.

Then she decided that music needed to be heard. "I decided to transcribe it into modern notation, assuming the second line of the staff is C, as is common for chants of this era," she said on Tumblr. … Read more

Whoosh: Animated global weather map has winning winds

As little humans on this big planet, we can feel the impact of something like the infamous polar vortex. We can see the snow outside and notice the wind blowing the trees, but it can be hard to put it into a global perspective. That's where supercomputers can be a big help.

A supercomputer-powered Web site project sporting the humble name "earth" is a fascinating look at global weather patterns. It comes from software developer Cameron Beccario and it will suck you into a world full of weather-induced curves and swirls viewable at different levels in the atmosphere.… Read more

Google's surprising list of most photographed cities and sights

Panoramio is a Google-owned photo-sharing site powered by Google Earth and Google Maps, sort of like a crowdsourced and much more beautiful take on Google Street View for places you actually want to see. Estonian software engineer Tanel Tammet took Panoramio data to create his own Google Maps layer called Sightsmap -- a heat map showing the most photographed places in the world. The most-photographed cities and places are also ranked worldwide and by visible sections of the map. … Read more

'Wikipedia for robots': Because bots need an Internet too

If robots are really going to take over the world, they'll first need to search the Internet for extra-long-lasting batteries and cool-looking campaign ribbons to decorate their brave warrior drones.

And now that they're getting their own "Wikipedia for robots," they can. OK, they might not be able to swap information on armor-piercing ammunition, but robots will be able to share know-how on at least some topics keen to the cybermind.

Meet RoboEarth, an online international database for robots looking to learn new skills from their fellow automatons. Created by scientists at Philips, Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands, and four other European universities, RoboEarth is initially meant to target the growing number of household and caregiver robots aimed at the world's aging populations. … Read more