Is Google Earth a Time Machine?


The photo above was taken about 100 years ago. The photo below was taken about 1 year ago by me. They both show the same place taken from as near to the same angle as I could get. The Barley Mow is a pub in my home town of Runcorn, Cheshire, England.


Amazing to look at the doorway and think that’s exactly where some guy  stood all those years ago in a bartender’s apron and with what looks like a meat and potato pie on his head. The very bricks he leaned on back then are still there to this day when he’s probably been dead for at least fifty years. Comparing two photos of the same place like this is the nearest we get to time travel, I suppose. I was finding my way somewhere the other week using Google Earth and I wondered if Google keeps the old versions of all the streets, roads, and cities when they update to a new one.

They probably don’t do just one big update covering the whole Earth though; that’d be massive! They probably do it in smaller, more manageable chunks, same way I do housework. If they did save all the outdated images, wouldn’t it be great to have access to the whole world as it used to look but doesn’t anymore? Not so much now because Google Earth hasn’t been in existence that long but imagine when it’s been around for fifty years or even a hundred. Imagine if we could access images of almost every inch of the world and see exactly how it looked a century ago.

You could take a tour round your home town the way it was before your parents, even your grandparents were born. You could go look at your house the year it was built, even the year before it was built. You could tour around a city before it was damaged in the Second World War or drive up the motorway when it was still a dirt track. Even better, maybe a century into the future they’ll have invented some more hi tech version of Google Earth which involves more than just still images, maybe a multi media, multi sensory device of some kind which will enable us to get even closer to actually travelling in time. If they have invented such a thing, you can bet there’ll be in app purchases.


3 thoughts on “Is Google Earth a Time Machine?

  1. Have you seen the movie Lion? Google Earth features in the plot (based on a true story) and I read somewhere that for the purposes of the movie, they used some of their older images to keep the discovery in keeping with the setting of the story. So I think they do save this somehow.

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