Tangible Earth, the world's first digital interactive globe, will be on view at the Smithsonian's Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in a special "Quicktake" installation from February 18 through Spring 2011. Conceived in 2001 by Shinichi Takemura, a professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design, this interactive digital globe is designed as an integrated media platform to raise awareness of global environmental issues.
The globe, which is four feet in diameter, shows dynamic changes in the world, using rigorous scientific data and speeding up the changes to show what is happening. The ocean currents, whose fast-flowing streams are illuminated in yellows and reds, point out the importance of the Gulf Stream in keeping Northern Europe temperate. Sea-surface temperatures rise and fall seasonally, as if the oceans were breathing. The division between night and day is downloaded in real time, and the cloud formations are animated in a loop representing the past four days. "Tangible Earth is a scale representation of the globe that allows people to understand the condition of our planet using interactive technology based on information provided by scientists from various fields," said Bill Moggridge, director of the museum.