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Google's new Timelapse feature showcases the changing globe

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Google's new Timelapase lets you go anywhere in the world and mark geological and urban changes over a 26 year period. (Photo: Google)

Google Earth once reinvented how many of us perceive space,allowing users to virtually travel anywhere in the world without ever leaving their chair.

Now, it seems Google is doing the same thing with time.

Timelapse, Google's newest project in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA and Time magazine, lets you navigate a map using Google Earth Engine technology.

As of Thursday, users can go to the project launch page on the Time's website and search for any geographical spot or landmark in the world to see how the area has changed in the period between 1986 and 2012.

The project is part of an ongoing collaboration between the USGS and NASA called Landsat, which consists of millions of satellite picture of the earth's surface. Google compiled these into 1.8 trillion pixels per frame images, which, according to the Time feature, is "the equivalent of 900,000 high-def TVs assembled into a single mosaic."

All of this goes into a seamless moving image of human inhabitation in the world over the last quarter of a century, and the shifting geological trends we've caused.

To highlight the technology's capabilities, the project's designers have featured a handful of geographical locations that help to illustrate the technology's potential in a particularly vivid way.

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Go to the site of the Columbia Glacier in southern Alaska to see how one of the fastest moving bodies of ice in the world has retreated further into the mountains of south-eastern Alaska; watch as Las Vegas' urban sprawl swallows the surrounding desert, or how the dense greenery of the Amazon rainforest transforms into a gridwork of farmland and roadways.

The platform has some interesting implications for the public discourse around climate change, urbanization and resource extraction as it offers a tangible look at the way human activity has changed our planet.

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Have you found any interesting urban or geological transformations on Google Timelapse? Do visual representations of our changing planet influence your perspective on issues like the environment and climate change? Let us know in the comments below.


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