Thursday, January 05, 2012

Teaching Physics with Google Earth

Google Earth has a number educational uses ranging from flight simulators to undersea exploration. Now a researcher has suggested extending the virtual globe's applications to physics.

From top right: inlets in Egypt, France and Italy mimic wave diffraction through an opening. Image Credit: Fabrizio Logiurato/Google Earth

Fabrizio Logiurato, a postdoctoal physics researcher at the University of Trento in Italy, proposed using Google Earth for teaching wave phenomena in a paper published on the arXiv preprint server. Logiurato argues that real-life examples engender more enthusiasm from students compared to traditional drawings of waves.

Wave refraction off the coast of Venezuela. Image Credit: Fabrizio Logiurato/Google Earth

Wave interference from boat wakes in Thailand. Image Credit: Fabrizio Logiurato/Google Earth

So take a look for yourself on Google Earth. Scouring the satellite images will reveal many different kinds of waves due to the ocean's interactions with boats, islands and coastlines.

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