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Frontiers
HoloGlobe Exhibit Projects the Big Picture

February 1997

We all know the basic facts:

  • Earth is a sphere.

  • Earth's systems are dynamic.

  • These systems interact.

And yet, because our planet is so big, and its dynamic, interactive systems are so numerous, visualizing how the world works has always been a challenge. Until now.

HoloGlobe, a new 3-D exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History, shows how Earth's systems affect each other and the globe as a whole. These are events that formerly we could see only in the mind's eye.

Designed and built with initial funding from NSF's Geosciences Directorate, HoloGlobe allows viewers to see the connections between atmospheric, oceanic, geologic and biological processes.

There are no special glasses and no head-mounted displays. HoloGlobe is created through a technology called high-definition volumetric display (HDVD) and relies on a combination of sophisticated optical filters and lenses to project images.

In creating the exhibit, NSF used existing technology which had been developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The project also involved the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Silicon Graphics, and Dimensional Media Associates.

HoloGlobe, a 7-minute presentation narrated by actor James Earl Jones, is on display at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

 


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