Someday, a week will go by where I'm not completely enthralled by a TED video ... but this is not that week, because Carter Emmart - the Director of Astrovisualization at the American Museum of Natural History - gave a talk where he demonstrated a beautiful 3-dimensional map of the universe. The program, called the Digital Universe Atlas, has been in development since 1998 under the auspices of the Hayden Planetarium, with help from NASA and other institutions. Emmart has helped coordinate scientists, artists, and programmers to work together to produce this amazing simulation of our universe.
This sort of a visual representation of space has amazing educational potential, as attested by the fact that students in developing countries - including one high school in Cambodia, according to Emmart's speech - are able to interact with this 3-D learning environment to gain a greater appreciation of the splendor of our universe. It's satisfying to know that students around the world can, thanks to advances in telecommunications, experience the sort of powerful interactive demonstrations that were previously restricted to graduate programs and schools that happened to be near a sophisticated planetarium!
What sort of applications do you think this sort of a map might eventually have? How can it be leveraged to greatest impact on students of the universe?