Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sherlock strikes again!

Today, the weather was clement!  So I girded my loins, and wound my merry way to the allotment. I was digging up the last of the spuds, when I noticed a curious thing.

You can see the skyline of Liverpool from the allotment, and today, the concrete pole that used to be called St John's beacon, but what is now the Radio City Tower looked almost as if it were on fire,  except what appeared to be rising from it was not smoke, but cloud. This column of vapour rose from the horizon right up to the cloud base. I briefly toyed with the notion that someone had nuked Manchester, but that seemed unlikely, and there are no reports of such a thing occurring on the BBC's news website.

So I suspected  a power station. But how could I be sure? I couldn't drive in a straight line from the allotment to St John's beacon, and then beyond. Too many buildings and fences and gardens and rivers in the way. But I could create a line using the power of Google Earth!

I made a placemark at the base of the beacon.

I made another placemark at the allotment.

Then I lined things up and let the "camera" drift eastwards.

We passed over Wallasey and Seacombe, then out over the river to the centre of Liverpool. Then out of the commercial heart of the city and into the suburbs. To Wavertree and Netherton. To Tarbock Green and Farnworth. And there! Directly in front of me was Fiddler's Ferry Power Station. I placemarked that too!

And as you can see, they line up perfectly. Google Earth was also able to tell me that the direct, as the crow flies distance from Allotment to Power Station is 15 miles. Or, if you prefer, 2,415,015 centimetres.

The wonders of modern technology!


Wait! There's more! Those 2 million centimetres took me over hill and down dale. And Google Earth knows exactly how up the hills were, and how down the dales were too. And it's given me a topological profile of the terrain between Love Lane Allotments and Fiddlers Ferry Power Station.

My life is enriched! Thank you once again Google Earth!

As you can see, the river Mersey is a flat, sea level bit to the left of the profile. We head down to it, and up away from it, soaring up to a rarified 225 feet above sea level in the Edge Hill area of the city. Watch out for nosebleeds and blackouts before you float gracefully down to a mere 50 feet above the briny towards the end of the trip. 50 feet lower than the starting point, at an average slope of about 1.5%. Nothing that a good stout pair of walking boots couldn't cope with.

Seriously, I've been using this thing for quite a long time now, without necessarily looking deeply at every aspect, so it's still got some surprising tricks up it's sleeve! To access this function, click the ruler button on the top bar (between the planet button and the email button) then simply click on a point and move your mouse pointer to a different point. You'll see a line. When you want to make the other end of a line, click again.

But you're not just limited to individual lines. You can do complete and complex journeys by combining lines to make paths.

As you can see from the picture above, I've just found that we drive 2.5 miles to do our shopping run at Asda. I could use Google Earth to work out  a shorter route. The possibilities are endless!

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