Video: Earth gets all Van Gogh swirly in NASA animation

This video has been making the rounds on the Internet over the past few days and there's a reason why. This animated modeling of the Earth's currents bears as striking resemblance to Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night painting.

It sort of makes you wonder if Van Gogh had a way of seeing the world that was so advanced it would take decades for us to see it the same way.

"Perpetual Ocean" is an animation is from NASA's Estimating the Circulation and Climate of the Ocean 2 project (ECCO2). It charts the surface currents of the oceans and sea ice across the globe to show how heat and carbon flow.

This video shows the activity of the surface currents from June 2005 and December 2007, and while serving up a wealth of data for climate scientists, it also is an amazing piece of animation artwork.

A small NASA team put the piece together as an entry into a computer animation festival, but sadly came up just short of the deadline. Greg Shirah and Horace Mitchell are the duo behind the animation, Victoria Weeks was the video editor with Hong Zhang and Dimitris Menemenlis as science advisers.

Fortunately, their work is blazing around the Web now and is garnering a lot of attention. It tells a powerful story of how something like animation can make a scientific concept or data more accessible to a wider audience that just the scientists who study it day in and out.

It should be pointed out that NASA has also launched a series of five rockets that will release tracers into the earth's upper atmosphere to study and better understand the turbulent air currents found there. Can you imagine the imagery that will come from that?

It just goes to show the Earth is beautiful in ways we can't always see until someone takes a new look at it. We're glad NASA is on the case dreaming up new ways to bring the universe to our door.

Check out the ECCO2 website for more images and interesting information from the team that has their finger on the pulse of our little blue marble.

NASA, via Geek

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