Sunday, August 17 2008
It was sort of sad going to the fair for one last session as the nosy intern. Luckily there was plenty going on at the Natural Resources Building to distract me from my grief.
Bob Wilkinson of the DNR’s Division of Water took over the Front Porch today to talk about GPS, or Global Positioning System. He was admittedly at a disadvantage, as Worship Fest 2008 was literally 200 feet away and the enthusiastic worshippers were living it up.
Despite the distraction, I learned a lot about GPS. It doesn’t seem to be much of stretch to call GPS one of the most practical and important technological advances of our time (granted, there are a ton of things which rank pretty high on that list) both for the military and for us civilians.
GPS consists of three segments: the Space Segment, which is composed of the 24-plus satellites in orbit; the Ground Segment, which is the tracking and control done by the military; and the User Segment, which is the military and civilian users of the system on land, sea, and air.
Wilkinson explained how important GPS was to Indiana following the flooding earlier this summer – the state was able to use GPS for surveying the flooding by tying in high watermarks to figure out how extensive the damage was.
Obviously, GPS is not just for government and military use these days.
Wilkinson showed off a variety of smaller devices, which run $100 to $300 depending on whether the display is black & white or color, and whether there is a detailed map in the background or just the numbers.
GPS needs to be in full view of the sky to really get an accurate reading, but we made do even with the roof of the Front Porch (For future reference, should you ever become hopelessly lost in the Indiana State Fairgrounds, the Front Porch’s coordinates are 39°49’53.8” latitude and 86°08’13.3” longitude.
Well, that does it for the DNR at the 2008 Indiana State Fair. I hope you all got a chance to come in to the NRB and see what was going on – we’ve been having a blast!