Drones flying overhead are commonplace in my neighborhood. According to my neighbors on Nextdoor, they’re either a creepy violation of privacy or just a fun hobby for families. A drone has followed me while walking my dogs occasionally or hovered over my backyard while I’m gardening. I found it uncomfortable but not creepy. At least, until a few days later. I spotted the pilot in his front yard, hunched over his phone, mouth agape, as he spied on his neighbors. I’m judgemental, but it’s my exact reaction to Google Earth. I sit hunched in front of my computer, mouth agape, and scrolling across the planet’s surface.
Photo by NASA on Unsplash
5 Weirdest Things Spotted on Google Earth
On Google Earth, it’s just a sliver of black surrounded by photos of a dark blue ocean. It also appeared on the world coastline database for the past dozen years. But when a team of marine scientists planned a stop at the island during a plate tectonics study, there was nothing there.
12-miles from the nearest inhabitants of Kazakhstan, there’s a giant pentagram visible from the sky. While your imagination may run wild with Satanists on the steppes of Asia, it’s actually a residual from Soviet-era Russia. The “pentagram” is just a park, designed in the shape of a star and fallen into disrepair.
In the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, Lago Vermelho shows up bright red in the original Google Earth photos. Since then, it’s turned back to a traditional lake hue. There’s no official statement on what caused the blood color. Still, some theories say nearby slaughterhouses let blood run into the water.
Photo by Jared Erondu on Unsplash
Wonder what happens to all those defense contracts your tax dollars fund? The answer, at least in part, is in Tucson, Arizona. At Davis-Monthan Airforce Base, every air force vehicle since World War II sits in disuse, visible from a satellite above. The boneyard is also visible in the music video for Learning to Fly by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Whether or not you think individuals need billions of dollars likely depends on your current net worth. It’s hard not to examine the world’s 1% spending and ask if their choices are really better than, oh, curing world hunger or providing clean drinking water for the rest of the 99%. For instance, Hamad bin Hamdan al Nahyan, a billionaire in Saudi Arabia, hired workers to dig his name into the sands of the beach on his private island. Yes, it’s visible from space.