News and commentary about the Great Frontiers

ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) --- This view of Earth's horizon as the sunsets over the Pacific Ocean was taken by an Expedition 7 crewmember onboard the International Space Station (ISS). Anvil tops of thunderclouds are also visible. Credit: Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Image Credit: ISS007-E-10807 (21 July 2003) – Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA Johnson Space Center

Recording Time and Space


A Texas town is upgrading their police cars to include digital video feeds of activity that will eventually be sent wirelessly to headquarters for storage. The idea is to keep a video record of police activity for use as evidence in investigations and eventually in court. The public may also use the recording to support allegations of unlawful police conduct. Other municipalities have expressed an interest in the IBM technology.

In apparently unrelated news, The World Wide Panorama has released QuicktimeVR of various spots in the world all taken around the same time during the 2004 Spring Equinox. QuicktimeVR provides a 360-degree panoramic image of one moment in time.

Computing power is growing exponential according to Moore’s Law. Digital storage space, like hard drives, are also growing exponentially in size. Video quality is getting better and better, wireless capacity is increasing, and cameras are showing up in cell phones and street lights in addition to the increased use of other video surveillance technologies in response to terrorism and crime. With GPS, sensors can now pinpoint their own location with increasing accuracy in three dimensional space and in time.

The universe (or at least our tiny corner of it) is increasingly being recorded for future playback. Might this eventually become a deterrent to crime? Could future historians plumb virtual reality recreations of our near future, instead of just browsing written documentation and images? What if alien probes have been recording the history of Earth all along? There are not likely any alien VCRs in orbit, but humans will eventually have the technology to record every moment of every point on the Earth in amazing detail.

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