Last Wednesday, Dec 3, the Google Technology User Group - Web Link - and the WebMapSocial MeetUp group - Web Link - held a joint meeting featuring mapping applications - mainly from students.
The first speaker from Google showed how Google Earth can now be embedded in web pages. Get the browser plugin (which works on Mac Safari browsers) from Web Link. You can now have 3D maps in web applications. The National University of Singapore did a clever trick - they covered the globe image with a black background - then made a map of their university library. If you type in the number of a book you can find the shelf it is on.
Noah Wasserman, a grad student at San Francisco State had spent the summer in Yosemite taking pictures. He then compared them with historic photos and showed how tree coverage has varied over time. When sheep grazed the alpine meadows there were fewer trees. See Web Link. Picture Source: Noah Wasserman.
The evening ended with a talk on the GeoEye-1 satellite that was launched September 2008 and takes detailed photos of the earth. It covers 750,000 sq. km. in a day, and can get info down from 425 miles high in the sky to earth in 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the US government doesn't let civilians have access to the highest resolution photos (about 16 inches per pixel) but this may change in the future. Google is the biggest commercial customer for GeoEye which currently supplies data from the IKONOS satellite. Web Link.