Google has created a time machine with which one can simultaneously explore space and time at extremely high resolutions.
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute have leveraged the latest browser technology to create GigaPan Time Machine, a system that enables viewers to explore gigapixel-scale, high-resolution videos and image sequences by panning or zooming in and out of the images while simultaneously moving back and forth through time.
Viewers, for instance, can use the system to focus in on the details of a booth within a panorama of a carnival midway, but also reverse time to see how the booth was constructed. Or they can watch a group of plants sprout, grow and flower, shifting perspective to watch some plants move wildly as they grow while others get eaten by caterpillars. Or, they can view a computer simulation of the early universe, watching as gravity works across 600 million light-years to condense matter into filaments and finally into stars that can be seen by zooming in for a close up.
"With GigaPan Time Machine, you can simultaneously explore space and time at extremely high resolutions," said Illah Nourbakhsh, associate professor of robotics and head of the CREATE Lab.
"Science has always been about narrowing your point of view — selecting a particular experiment or observation that you think might provide insight. But this system enables what we call exhaustive science, capturing huge amounts of data that can then be explored in amazing ways," added Nourbakhsh.
An enabling technology for time-lapse GigaPans is a feature of the HTML5 language that has been incorporated into such browsers as Google's Chrome and Apple's Safari. HTML5, the latest revision of the HyperText Markup Language (HTML) standard that is at the core of the Internet, makes browsers capable of presenting video content without use of plug-ins such as Adobe Flash or Quicktime.
Once a Time Machine GigaPan has been created, viewers can annotate and save their explorations of it in the form of video "Time Warps."