The idea behind cloud computing, as pioneer Amazon Web Services believed when it launched its first utility compute and storage products eight years ago, is to abstract away the underlying hardware and provide raw resources to programmers for applications to run on.

On a recent visit to Mountain View, I got a peek at how the Google Maps team assembles their maps and refines them with a combination of algorithms and meticulous manual labor – an effort they call Ground Truth.

Ripple, ripple

Using a table cloth, marble, and a cube made of tungsten (which sits in for an actual cube of gold-platinum), scientist Paul McNamara explains that the not-so-flat universe makes for an environment in which gravitational waves can occur.


It had become clear that nearly every cell in nearly every tissue in the body keeps time. Every 24 hours, responding to a biochemical bugle call, a handful of proteins assembles in the cell’s nucleus.