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It's called "Project Loon", as in balloon.  This involves launching solar and wind powered balloons into the stratosphere.  These special balloons communicate with control devices and Internet providers on the ground to deliver Internet to remote areas that are not "connected".  In the stratosphere, winds carry these balloons over a predictable path.

Now that's something to tweet about :)

And that's what's good,


Published in Technology

Google Creates Museum Virtual Tours

Google Inc. (GOOG) has expanded its virtual tours to more than 150 of the world’s major museums, featuring putting high-resolution close-ups of masterworks by Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Botticelli -- but not the Mona Lisa.

A Google camera in front of the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Google is putting the works of museums online. Photographer: Elie Posner/Israel Museum via Bloomberg

A Google camera in front of the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Google is putting the works of museums online. Photographer: Elie Posner/Israel Museum via Bloomberg

The latest additions that went online this month include the Musee d’Orsay in Paris and Jerusalem’s Israel Museum. The Louvre in the French capital, home of the Da Vinci masterpiece, isn’t taking part in the website, dubbed Art Project.

Internet browsers can tour the galleries from 40 countries as they would neighborhoods on Google Street View. Google is seeking more new partners in the U.S., Europe and emerging markets. It says the service won’t generate revenue, including through advertising, though it gives no figures.

“Everyone asks me if we have Leonardo’s Mona Lisa,” Amit Sood, who heads the project, said at a news briefing in Paris. “We’re talking to people from the Louvre. Maybe they’ll be part of the next phase,” he said of the world’s most visited museum, which hosted 8.8 million people last year, according to its website.

When contacted by telephone by Bloomberg News, a spokeswoman at the Louvre press office declined to comment and wouldn’t give her name.

The Israel Museum has already put the Dead Sea Scrolls online and they were seen by 1 million visitors from more than 200 countries in about three days. The next step in collaboration was “almost a marriage of the moment,” James Snyder, director of Israel Museum, said in an interview.

Orsay’s Monet

Among the museum’s items now online is the interior of an 18th-century Italian Vittoria Veneto Synagogue and some of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies. The French announcement was made in Orsay, with its Monet-filled walls.

“Google is committed to bringing art and culture online and making them universally accessible,” said Yossi Matias, managing director of Google’s R&D center in Israel.

The site started in February 2011 with works from the Tate Britain, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and 15 others from nine countries. More than 40 of the museums have now allowed Google to digitalize one artwork at a resolution of 7 billion pixels, or 1,000 times the average digital camera.

The Mountain View, California-based Internet company has sent robot-like devices equipped with cameras to roll around museums from Sao Paulo to Istanbul over the past year, snapping pictures of as many as 30,000 works.

Vincent’s Bedrooms

“Out of pure coincidence we’ve reunited the three versions of Vincent Van Gogh’s ‘The Bedroom’ in one place,” said Sood, who came up with the idea for Art Project two-and-a-half years ago and now heads a team of seven people in London, including former employees of the Met and the Tate.

By striking deals only with the museums, and not with artists, their heirs nor foundations, Google avoids having to deal with copyright issues, Sood said. The company has included image security technology in the database to protect the photos, he also said.

Major artworks by artists such as Picasso and other large galleries are not included yet. Still, the collection ranges from Egon Schiele’s 1914 work “Naked Girls Embracing” in the Leopold Museum, Vienna, to Bellini’s “St. Francis in the Desert,” dating from about 1480, in the Frick Collection.

The 7-gigapixel images throw up curious details. In Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s “The Harvesters” (1565), from the Met, tiny background figures can be seen throwing sticks at a tied-up goose in a game called squail.

In “The Ambassadors” (1533) -- now in the U.K.’s National Gallery -- Hans Holbein not only represents France’s ambassador to England, but makes sure that the tiny town where his chateau is located is clearly marked on the globe in the picture.

The other museums taking part include the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Palace of Versailles, and the Gemaeldegalerie in Berlin.

To see the website, go to

To contact the reporters on the story: Gwen Ackerman in Jerusalem at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; Marie Mawad in Paris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Ackerman, Gwen & Mawad, Marie. "Google Seeks Mona Lisa as Online Art Embraces Van Gogh" Business Week. 8 April 2012. Web. 

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Google Seeks Mona Lisa as Online Art Embraces Van Gogh

Published in Random Good News

It sounds like the storyline from a movie. A five-year-old boy gets separated from his brother at a train station in India. He boards the wrong train by himself and falls asleep. He awakens on the east side of India. The events that follow include him trying to scrounge his way back home, nearly drowning and almost being sold into slavery.

What would happen next in this movie? You’ve probably seen enough plot lines to guess. He didn’t make it home at this time, but he does go on to become a successful businessman and, of course, found his family in the end.

While this may sound like a Hollywood or Bollywood-directed event, the story covered by Tasmania‘s The Mercury is Saroo Brierley’s reality.

Child Lost for 25 Years With Help of Google Earth, Facebook

Saroo Brierley reunited with his mother. (Photo via The Mercury)

The Mercury has more on Brierley’s story that eventually led him to find his family 25 years later:

He eventually was declared a lost child and placed in an orphanage before being adopted by Tasmanian parents. Mr Brierley now helps run their family industrial supplies business, Brierley Hose and Handling.

Mr. Brierley said he never forgot where he came from and, three weeks ago, he returned to India find his family.

“I kept in my head the images of the town I grew up in, the streets I used to wander and the faces of my family, I treasured those memories,” he said.

 For 10 years, Brierley said he tried to find his family on the Internet but one tool in particular became especially helpful: Google Earth. Brierley said he used the service to zoom in on areas in the country where he was originally from to find anything he could recognize. Eventually, it was the original train station that helped him identify his hometown. The Mercury reports at this point Brierley joined a Facebook group for the town of Ganesh Talai. With more details from questioning members of that group, he visited the town and searched until he was reunited with his family.

But the heartfelt drama of this Brierley‘s story doesn’t stop there. The Mercury reports the older brother who originally accompanied Brierley to the train station on the day he was lost was found dead on the tracks.

The Daily Mail reports Brierley, who was adopted by Tasmanian parents while still young, doesn’t plan to move back to India but will maintain strong contact with his biological family there. The Daily Mail also states that he plans to make a movie of his story.


Klimas, Liz. "‘Lost Child’ Reunited With Family 25 Years Later Thanks to Google Earth and Facebook" The Blaze. 15 March 2012. Web. 

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Published in Technology
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