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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

Digital Sandbox

Digital Sandbox

Augmented reality sandbox for teaching geology (credit: YouTube)


Growing up on coast of the Pacific Ocean there were miles of sandy beaches to play around. When my nephew was very young we went to a secluded cove that few people knew or visited. I read a book and he dug a hole in the sand with his little pail and digger. I asked him what he was doing and he answered directly: I'm looking for doubloons, those treasure coins of pirate stories. He didn't find any but continued doing what countless other kids had done before and since when they went to the beach, played in the sand.

Times have changed in unimaginable ways since the 1960's with new technologies allowing the for creation of beach scenes that nobody could have ever predicted. Combining 'big data' with topographic capabilities of geographic information systems (GIS), teams of researchers are now developing ways to visualize vast amounts of data in predictive ways. Viewing potential impacts from tsunami's, earthquakes, landslides, hurricanes, and any nature of environmental catastrophe allows development of mitigation plans for coastal areas and make them more resilient.

A leading group applying 'big data' science to geography is the Geographic Information Network of Alaska, GINA for short. In association with Oliver Kreylos at the University of California-Davis, a digital 'sandbox' has been designed to test impact scenarios by visualizing data in completely new ways. Known as augmented reality, this new visualization tool is finding uses in far-flung areas of expertise including medicine, geology, architecture, engineering, the military, and film animation. The uses are limited only by the imagination...and as data is available.

What would you like to learn from your own 'digital sandbox'? WHB

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