Geo Week News

March 11, 2011

On 3D and earthquakes


Ironically, I was saving for today a post on how 3D and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake are related. See, the Smithsonian just dug up some early 3D efforts from Frederick Eugene Ives, taken just a few months after the Great Quake. Some of the only color photography from the event – maybe THE only color photography – the photos are fascinating:

As you might intuit from their side-by-side nature, the photographs were intended to viewed through a 3D viewing device, probably a lot like the View-Master, which I was surprised to learn just now has been in existence since 1939.

But, we’re told, Ives’ device “never became a commercial success.”

Maybe he should have been targeting the under-12 market. 

Regardless, it seems trite to be talking about 1906 earthquakes when we have today an earthquake off the coast of Japan that appears to have simply devastated a substantial portion of the country, both from the quake effects and the tsunami generated. 

The images from the tsunami’s effect are horrifying:

So, we’re left to ponder what the role of 3D might be to help with aftermath of today’s earthquake, since it’s my job to think about 3D but it’s kind of hard to think about anything other than the Japanese earthquake. We have an event in Japan in May. I was just talking with Tom yesterday about maybe getting a chance to go over for the show. And then I wake up to learn about this.

In 1906, Ives felt the need to document the destruction. Certainly, 3D could help with documentation of damage today. But could it help with rescue efforts? How? Could it help with reconstruction efforts? Almost certainly. Could it help people visualize the damage and better understand the need for help from around the world? I hope so.

At the moment, it’s hard to think about anything other than those poor people who have had their lives completely overturned, those who have lost their lives and those who have lost loved ones.

Our thoughts at SPAR go out to those in Japan and around the world who are suffering today. Do your best to stay safe, everyone.

Want more stories like this? Subscribe today!

Read Next

Related Articles


Join the Discussion