Microsoft's new version of Flight Simulator is breathtakingly realistic.
...the new simulator models the entire planet, including something like 40,000 airports worldwide. I used to brag in presentations about FSX that we started with 2 terabytes of scenery data, and then compressed that to fit onto a couple of DVDs in a box. The world in the new version consists of 2 petabytes of data — yes, that’s one thousand times bigger. The scenery is built on Bing satellite and aerial imagery, augmented with cool buzzwordy stuff like photogrammetric 3D modeling and multiple other data sources, all of which is streamed via Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.
For purposes of comparison, here is the first flight simulator I used in 1979. Made by subLOGIC for the Apple ][ computer.
I'm actually interested in the new Microsoft Flight Simulator because the company brags that they have modeled the entire planet, using two petabytes of data, including more than 40,000 airports worldwide.
In Neal Stephenson's excellent 1992 novel Snow Crash, Hiro Protagonist is given an amazing service - ordinarily available only to the wealthy - for free.
There is something new: A globe about the size of a grapefruit, a perfectly detailed rendition of Planet Earth, hanging in space at arm's length in front of his eyes. Hiro has heard about this but never seen it. It is a piece of CIC software called, simply, Earth. It is the user interface that CIC uses to keep track of every bit of spatial information that it owns - all the maps, weather data, architectural plans, and satellite surveillance stuff.
(Read more about CIC Virtual Earth)