Technology Tuesday: Wave Mechanics and Google Earth

Google Earth has offered hours of enjoyment to many people.  If you are short on cash, but want to see the world, Google Earth is one way you can travel down the streets of Barcelona or take in the Peruvian Mountains without actually forking over the money for a plane ticket.  And let’s admit that we all get a kick out some directions.  If I ever travel from the US to China, I’ll be sure to follow Google’s direction and unstrap my kayak once in Seattle “Kayak across the Pacific Ocean” for 2,756 miles and then once in Hawaii, continue straight for 0.1 miles.  If you have some other Google Maps funnies, comment below.

While Google Earth is a great way to see places and to reference landmarks if you are traveling to a new point B from point A.  Google Earth is also an educational tool.  Take a look at bodies of water with Google Earth and without knowing it, you could be studying wave mechanics!  Fabrizio Logiurato of Trent University in Italy shows through pictures how Google Earth’s images are just as interesting as the cities and roads.  Below are pictures of  interference, diffraction, and refraction all captured and displayed by Google Earth.

Image displaying interference. Retrieved from:


Image displaying wave diffraction through an opening at the port of Alexandria in Egypt. Image retrieved from
Wave Refraction as seen from a beach in Sardegna Italy. Image retrieved from


Cornell University Library has a pdf version of a paper written by Logiurato titled Teaching Waves with Google Earth.  Click here to check out the paper.  Now that you have gone abroad in a quick 10 minute tour have fun continuing to explore planet earth (and beyond) with Google Earth.  If you are interested in learning about the latest news regarding Google Earth check out the Google Earth Blog.  Looking for some tips and tricks in navigating Earth (or Mars!) via Google, check out and their article titled 19 Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for Using Google Earth and Google Maps.  Happy traveling, exploring, and learning!


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