earth posts on CNET


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

Magnetic Nanoport links phones to accessories, cars, each other

Magnetic toy maker Nano Magnetics announced a technology Tuesday called Nanoport, designed to let people link small phone displays into a single larger one, snap phones onto car dashboards, and easily link them to other devices.

Nano Magnetics hopes to license Nanoport first to smartphone makers and later to other tech companies, the company said Tuesday at CES 2014. Nanoport uses small neodymium (aka rare earth magnets), but it can be augmented with electromagnets for more demanding attachment situations, like car dashboards. It's also got wireless mechanisms for charging and USB-derived data transfer.

With Nanoport, devices could be stacked, … Read more

20 awe-inspiring views of Earth from space in 2013

For the past few years, DigitalGlobe has been snapping high-resolution shots of Earth from its constellation of satellites, picking the most interesting ones, and asking the public to help select its image of the year.

This year the company gave CNET access to the 20 nominees, which show our planet at its most awesome, weird, and wacky.… Read more

Peter Jackson on new film, what 'Hobbit' character he'd be

Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's novels are getting ready for the second film in "The Hobbit" trilogy, "The Desolation of Smaug," which features new adventures with elves, wizards, and angry orcs. Director and co-writer Peter Jackson brought some of Middle-earth to Beverly Hills, Calif., this week and gave CBS News' John Blackstone a tour.

For 16 years Jackson has been turning Tolkien's tales of Middle-earth into blockbusters.

"I've enjoyed making these as much as I've enjoyed doing anything in my life," Jackson told Blackstone. "This movie, the pace, and the sort of energy of it, I think, is almost reflecting my kind of increased excitement and enthusiasm and spirit as I go along." … Read more

Hobbits, trolls, and elves invade Google Chrome

Turn your Chrome browser into a fantasy portal complete with dwarves worthy of Bilbo Baggins. Journey through Middle-earth is an interactive Chrome browser experience inspired by the new movie "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" and developed by North Kingdom.

Explore Hobbit locales such as Trollshaw Forest, Rivendell, and Dol Guldur. Other locations, such as Thranduil's Hall, Lake-Town, and Erebor, will be unlocked as the movie's December premiere gets closer.

In the wild upland woods of Trollshaw, the hunting place of Hill-trolls who terrorize unsuspecting travelers, we learn about its dangerous inhabitants and Bilbo's encounter with them. Run through a maze surrounded by Hill-trolls and hopefully escape without being snatched. … Read more