Archive for Thursday, August 26, 2010

The wonders of a GPS

August 26, 2010

As some of you know, as of Aug. 19, we headed to Colorado to attend our grandson ’s wedding on the 21st.

We stayed in Lakewood and really relied on our GPS (Global Positioning System) to help us find our way around. That is the most wonderful invention and it saved us from getting lost a number of times.

It got us to our hotel, to Evergreen, Colo., where the wedding took place. It took us right to a cousin ’s home and a former neighbor ’s home. It took us to church on Sunday and helped us find a location to visit with a niece and her family.

Great big maps are wonderful, but the folding and unfolding makes them wear out real fast.

The basic idea of GPS navigation can be traced back centuries to the first explorer who asked the question, “Where are we?” Technology of GPS history, however, first emerged in the 1950’s when MIT researchers noticed the radio signal of Sputnik varied in strength. As it came closer, the strength increased, and as it left their position the strength decreased. The deployment portion of the GPS history began in 1973 with a decision to develop a satellite navigation based on existing technology of the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. The first transmitters were installed on the surface of the earth and tested even though no satellites had been launched.

Between 1978 and 1985, 11 satellites were launched and put into position. Later that number was increased to 18, and in 1988 the decision was made to increase that number to 24. As the accuracy improved, subjects could be found within 10 to 15 meters, and at present, can be measured within centimeters in some cases.

Now employers can track their fleet of vehicles, parents can keep track of their small children or wayward teenagers. Pet owners can keep track of their dogs. No doubt the day will come when our kids will be using a GPS to locate us.

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