Technology is used in so many different industries today. We have made inconceivable progress in areas like medicine and archaeology thanks to new tools that push us farther than we could have gone ourselves.

A recent example is the case of two archaeologists who just made a breakthrough discovery in Central America. The husband-and-wife team used airborne laser signals to penetrate the jungle cover from the air and provide 3-D images of the ruins of a Mayan city in Belize. The data they collected surpassed the results of 'two and a half decades of on-the-ground mapping,'according to the New York Times. A fellow archaeologist noted that this 'lidar' technology could be used in places like Southeast Asia as well.

The technology used is called LIDAR. LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) is an optical remote sensing technology that measures properties of scattered light to find range and/or other information of a distant target.  I happen to know something about it because of a project my wife worked on recently with NEC (a Japanese firm).

The LIDAR technology is not cheap and similar kinds of data are now being provided by stereoscopic camera views combined with sophisticated software and excellent GPS capabilities.  In Japan they use this data to quickly tell which buildings fell down following an earthquake, so that first reponders can receive pinpoint directions. 


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