Fridaygram: Google Maps Views, preventing blackouts, astronomical photos

August 02, 2013

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Author PhotoBy +Scott Knaster, Google Developers Blog Editor

This week we launched Google Maps Views, a site where you can see and share photo spheres of your favorite places. You can enjoy photo spheres of beautiful and amazing locations, such as the Northwest Territories, Canada and Masvingo, Zimbabwe.

photos of Nimes, France

Photo Spheres displayed on the Views site include a handy “View on Google Maps” link, which enables you to see the photo sphere’s location displayed on a large map. And because Views is a community site, we encourage you to contribute your own photo spheres, which you can create using an Android phone or DSLR camera.

Our phones and cameras run on batteries, but it’s hard to get by without electric power in the wall. Power system engineers have studied the massive U.S. power blackout of 2003 and are working to prevent similar failures from happening again. Their primary tool is using phasor measurement units to monitor the interconnected power grid. These devices give early warning when something isn’t right, such as when a generating plant starts to fail. This gives operators time to take action before cascading problems can cause catastrophic failures, as in 2003. So your local power might be out, but at least it won’t knock out the lights for the next 10 cities down the road.

Finally, if you want to contemplate what’s beyond the bounds of Earth, take a look at some of the amazing photos submitted in the 2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. If you really love astronomy photos, you can see all 13,000 photos sent in since 2008. That should give you something to look at while you take a break from coding this weekend.

We’ll share anything nerdy here on Fridaygram. For example, if astronomy photos aren’t your thing, visit these simple animated GIFs that show how machines work. You might get inspired to build something of your own!