Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Laser-Scanning U.S. Landmarks 262

MeanMF writes "The New York Daily News reports in this article that the National Park Service is creating detailed 3-D maps of national monuments such as the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore using high-resolution laser scanners. Their goal is to create highly-accurate blueprints that can be used to reconstruct the monuments if they are damaged by a terrorist attack or other means." The same story is also available at Yahoo!.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Laser-Scanning U.S. Landmarks

Comments Filter:
  • Replace them? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Encomium ( 568657 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:39PM (#5021727)
    Would we really want to replace them though? Seems to me this would be like rebuildign the World Trade Centers exactly like they were, and noone is suggesting that, so why would monuments be different?
    • The original world trade center has proven to be vulnerable to terrorist attacks and fire.

      Besides if they were rebuilt would you want to work in them? I certainly would not. It would be very unoccupied. Former employees of the world trade center would rather quit their jobs then return to the WTC for obvious reasons.

      • Re:Replace them? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by garcia ( 6573 )
        did you watch what happened?

        You expect to believe that another large structure would be able to withstand an explosion of that magnitude in the basement level and not collapse like these did?

        Then you believe that being hit by two fucking planes and the buildings standing strong for the amount of time they did doesn't mean that they were VERY well built?

        If you think that any building out there would withstand that you are a bigger moron than you seem.
        • Why all the name calling? The towers were designed to withstand an airplane strike but a) planes are bigger now, and b) they failed to account for hot fuel melting certain critical structural features. These ARE now considered structural deficiencies and if they were to rebuild the towers as they were, they could fix these couple of mistakes and in theory they wouldn't have colapsed.
        • Just adding to what others have already said.

          The towers where build with a central "kernel" (sorry, english is not my primary language) with all the elevators and such, next there where a pretty large open space around the "kernel" and around that a "frame". When the planes hit the tower, they essentially cut the central "kernel" and suddenly only part of the outer frame where left to keep the tower standing.

          That is not the complete explanation, but combine it with some of the others have said (melting steel because of the fire) and you will have most of the explanation.

    • Re:Replace them? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:44PM (#5021778) Homepage Journal
      Seems to me this would be like rebuildign the World Trade Centers exactly like they were, and noone is suggesting that, so why would monuments be different?
      A couple of definitions might help:
      Monument 1. A structure, such as a building or sculpture, erected as a memorial. 2. An inscribed marker placed at a grave; a tombstone. 3. Something venerated for its enduring historic significance or association with a notable past person or thing: the architectural monuments of ancient Rome; traditions that are monuments to an earlier era. 4 a. An outstanding enduring achievement: a translation that is a monument of scholarship. b. An exceptional example: "Thousands of them wrote texts, some of them monuments of dullness" (Robert L. Heilbroner). 5. An object, such as a post or stone, fixed in the ground so as to mark a boundary or position. 6. A written document, especially a legal one.
      World Trade Center 1. An ugly office building.
      • >>World Trade Center 1. An ugly office building.

        This is really just a matter of taste. I happen to think that they were 2 good looking buildings. I've photographed them extensively over the years.

        No matter where I went in the Tri State area(NY, NJ, CT) and PA too, I would always try to find those buildings. To me, they were a pointer to home.

        As someone who enjoyed seeing those buildings, has worked in them, and who saw them fall(I was on West Street In Tribecca for both collapses), I don't believe that they should be rebuilt.

        Whatever is done with that 16 acres of land, I think that is should be a fresh design, while at the same time memorializing the 1993 bombing and 911.

    • Re:Replace them? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Cyno01 ( 573917 )
      With all this talk about developing the WTC site, my AP government teacher had an interesting idea. Rebuild the WTC, exactly as it was, except make both of the towers one storie higher.
    • They don't want to rebuild the WTC exactly as it was, for philosophical/religious reasons (it's considered sacred by many people, because so many died there; building on the original footprints is a no-no), as well as practical reasons: recently (AFAIK) very tall office buildings just aren't selling a whole lot of square feet of officespace these days. Rebuilding a monument is a different story.
    • by Peterus7 ( 607982 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @07:06PM (#5021922) Homepage Journal
      Well, one things for certain, the French sure aren't gonna build us another Statue of Liberty, with the way we've been acting lately.
      • by LittleGuy ( 267282 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @08:18PM (#5022309)
        Well, one things for certain, the French sure aren't gonna build us another Statue of Liberty, with the way we've been acting lately.

        Give a copy of the plans to Charlton Heston when the apes take over.
      • I remember (Score:3, Informative)

        by 0x0d0a ( 568518 )
        After the French got together the money to build the Statue to gift us with and built it, they couldn't convince us to pony up the money to actually have the damn thing shipped over. It took Hearst and a bunch of media work to get enough people to pay for the transportation.
    • Not every terrorist attack is going to be of the scale of the World Trade Centers. Don't forget the other 9/11 attack, the Pentagon. It didn't destroy the whole building, just one wedge. And they repaired it, trying to match the original appearance as much as possible.

      In fact, it is more likely that terrorist attacks will damage a landmark and not completely destroy it. In those cases, having accurate information on the original will be invaluable.

    • Re:Replace them? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Resseguie ( 602552 )
      I had already suggested to some of my friends (half joking / half serious) that it would be cool to construct at least a shell of the Statue of Liberty and store it somewhere in sections. Then if someone ever tries to hit that as an emotional target, you bring in the cranes and helicopters over night, assemble the "backup", and there she stands in all her glory the next morning. Turn an attempt at an emotional blow to the country into a patriotic high!
    • Because the WTC towers weren't monuments to anything. They were big office buildings with a prominent place in the city.

      Now, however, whatever takes its place will, indeed, need to serve as a monument.

      BTW, there were quite a few people who suggested rebuilding the towers to the original specs. The people who owned the propery and the city didn't feel that was the best course of action.
    • So you think Mount Rushmore should be changed to have the Bush family perhaps? George, Dubya and Jeb immortalized in stone .... wonderful!?
  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by IIRCAFAIKIANAL ( 572786 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:40PM (#5021738) Journal
    So a team from Texas Tech University was dispatched to document the tone of her copper skin, the undulations of her flowing gown, the muscles in her outstretched arm, the curve of her lips and the height, width and depth of her wide-open eyes.

    Lady Liberty is sexy sexy sexy! They forgot to mention her heaving bosom though.
  • by Cali Thalen ( 627449 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:43PM (#5021760) Homepage
    It's one thing to rebuild the Statue of Liberty, I can see how that might be accomplished (albeit at quite a cost).

    What I dont' get is...why Mt. Rushmore? They're going to have one hell of a time re-carving that thing back into the mountain, expecially after being demolished by something...well, big enough to blow something like that up.

    Cool idea, all in all though.

    • This is so they can add Bush and Rumsfeld to the replacement Mt Rushmore.
      • This is so they can add Bush and Rumsfeld to the replacement Mt Rushmore.

        Nah, that would be Mt Rush Limbaugh.

        You know, just saying "Mount Rush Limbaugh" is enough to make any person of taste feel queasy.

        There is a bunch of looney Americans currently planning to carve the face of Alexander the Great onto the hills of Macedonia []. Never mind the fact that nobody kniws what he looked like

    • by outsider007 ( 115534 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @07:07PM (#5021924)
      It's one thing to rebuild the Statue of Liberty, I can see how that might be accomplished (albeit at quite a cost).

      Yeah right. they still haven't gotten around to fixing that crack in the liberty bell.
  • No vision? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rainier Wolfecastle ( 591298 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:43PM (#5021763)
    Not to sound crass or anything, but is that really what people would want? If an historic monument is destroyed, replacing it doesn't mean that it never happenend, it just means that it was replaced.

    I would think that if something like this were to happen, then some new, awe-inspiring monument could be built. However, It seems to me that there has been a dearth in people eligible for immortalization in a mountain face (for example) for quite a while now.
    • I would want the Statue of Liberty replaced. It's a historical symbol.

      The WTC were big office buildings, and frankly not very attractive ones. It makes a lot of sense to update their appearance and functionality in the course of rebuilding. They will endure as symbols, in our memories.

      Their goal is to create highly-accurate blueprints that can be used to reconstruct the monuments if they are damaged by a terrorist attack or other means.

      I was thinking the project sounded cool until I read the reason. Sigh.
    • However, It seems to me that there has been a dearth in people eligible for immortalization in a mountain face (for example) for quite a while now.
      • Linus Torvalds
      • Richard Stallman
      • Eric S. Raymond
      • Bruce Perens
      would fit just nicely at Mt. Rushmore.

      Not to mention we'd give the Statue of Liberty the face of Lawrence Lessig...
      • * Linus Torvalds
        * Richard Stallman
        * Eric S. Raymond
        * Bruce Perens

        And Stallman and Raymond could be sort of looking at each other and snarling.
    • It seems to me that there has been a dearth in people eligible for immortalization in a mountain face (for example) for quite a while now.

      That's crass. There's lots of people I care about more than anyone on a mountain face...

      I think monuments with the faces of the innocent victims would be appropriate.

      By the way, I'm tired of reading that 9/11 was our fault. It was our fault for not being members of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabist invasion cult.

      You know, 9/11 happened because Osama Bin Laudin is no weirdo to the Saudis, he's a pretty typical result of the Saudi Wahhabist education system. It's an education system that the Saudis use all that oil money to spread to the rest of the world (Pakistan and Afganistan are filled with their schools).

      Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab was an 18th century Islamist cult founder who the Saudis princes claim to be descended from.

      He taught that his followers were destined by god to invade the rest of the world that it is their duty to be everyone else's enemy, to take everything for themselves and to convert by the sword. Among his wonderful fatwas is one that forbids his followers to have friends who are not muslims - hatred is required. It is also forbidden to wish a non muslim well on his holidays etc. etc.. In Saudi Arabia, preaching Christianity is punishable by death.

      Here's some quotes from modern Saudi society and education taken from various places :
      http://ww x.htm

      Sheikh Majed 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Firian recently stated in the Suleiman Bin Muqiran mosque in Riyadh: "Muslims must... educate their children to Jihad. This is the greatest benefit of the situation: educating the children to Jihad and to hatred of the Jews, the Christians, and the infidels; educating the children to Jihad and to revival of the embers of Jihad in their souls. This is what is needed now..."

      A schoolbook for the 9th grade on Hadith introduces a famous narration known by the name, "The Promise of the Stone and the Tree."It tells a story about Abu Hurayra, one of the Prophet's companions who quoted the Prophet as saying: "The hour [the Day of Judgment] will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.A Jew will [then] hide behind a rock or a tree, and the rock or tree will call upon the Muslim: 'O Muslim, O slave of Allah! there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!' - except for the gharqad tree, for it is one of the trees of the Jews."[27] The Hadith is accompanied by a number of statements:

      "It is Allah's wisdom that the struggle between Muslims and Jews shall continue until the Day of Judgment."

      "The Hadithbrings forth the glad tidings about the ultimate victory, with Allah's help, of Muslims over Jews."

      "The Jews and the Christians are the enemies of the believers.They will not be favorably disposed toward Muslims and it is necessary to be cautious [in dealing with them] ."

      The book asks questions for class discussion:

      "Who will be victorious in the Day of Judgment?"

      "With what types of weapons should Muslims arm themselves against the Jews?"

      "Name four factors leading to the victory of Muslims over their enemies."

      "On a television programme that provides religious counseling [fatwa] a viewer asked the counseling Sheikh if he could travel to Egypt to hand an item he had in safekeeping over to a Christian friend's family. The Sheikh reprimanded the viewer for having a Christian friend in the first place - Muslims were not permitted to take Christian friends. He then went on to advise the viewer to keep the item in question for himself, since all possessions of kuffaar [non-believers] were the rightful property of Muslims."

      "The same Sheikh was asked for advice by a Saudi student who was leaving to the U.S to study, and feared for his virtue. The Sheikh advised him to marry an American as soon as he arrived to the U.S., on condition that he would not have any babies by that 'wife,' then divorce her once his scholarship was over and he was ready to head back home."

      All the while the only really accepted view of Israelis in the Arab world is that every last Israeli (down to each baby) deserves death. Look out, we've always been second on their hate list.

      As it's been in Israel it's going to be here.

      The One Narrative Crisis
      September 5, 2002

      Dr. Mohamed Mosaad

      A large group of Arab intellectuals, reflecting the whole spectrum of Arab intelligentsia, was presented in a talk show program broadcast on one of the Arab satellite channels. The subject was the Arab Israeli conflict, Intifada and the suicide bombing. The guests included Marxist, Nasserist, Nationalist, Islamist, and right wing intellectuals. One, thus, should expect a variety of conflicting ideas, a heated debate and an exciting show. One should, at least, expect an exchange of strong arguments, a reflection of different sources and a presentation of multiple analyses. Different ideologies, paradigms and historical, economic, political and cultural grounding of the subject must be displayed in a show like this, with guests like those discussing an issue like that!

      The surprise, which is not really surprising to an Arab audience, was the absolute consensus prevailing on the stage. Israel is evil, peace is a big deception, the Israelis are monsters, Israel lives on extending its borders, and those who favor peace are daydreamers, not to mention betrayers and collaborators. There were some differences though. For instance the Nasserist representative said a suicide bomb is more effective than an atomic bomb. The Marxist representative objected, not to say it is immoral, Heaven forbid, but rather to say it is an exaggeration. Of course an atomic bomb is more effective; we should be objective and scientific, the Marxist said. The Nasserist, however, challenged him by saying that he is not exaggerating anything. An atomic bomb could be expected, but no one can know exactly when and where the suicide bomber will blow him/herself, he proudly commented. When the question of the victims being civilians was raised, the guests all murmured and waved their hands. There is not a single Israeli civilian; all of them are a part of the military establishment. The Nationalist frankly said that a one-day old baby living in Tel Aviv is an occupier who is naturally a legitimate target of suicide bombing.

      This two-hour show is a drop in the Arab media ocean. But the other drops are no different. The same boring song has been chanted day and night for years in the Arab World. Western commentators are usually amazed and sometimes panicked by this propaganda, wondering how peace would be possible in such a context. My point, however, is not the content of the song, but rather, that it is the only song one can hear. The single narrative is not just the only view of Israel and the Arabs. It dominates the entire program of Arab national life. A conflict with a tiny country in a small corner of the Arab world has pushed almost all other issues off the stage for over half a century. Crazy people do say crazy things all the time, but we might expect to see and hear some other voices too.. Some other reasonable people should be also presented. Why are those reasonable people muted, and why is the crazy discourse flourishing? ....
  • by FurryFeet ( 562847 ) <> on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:44PM (#5021771)
    Sure gives a new meaning to the phrase "disaster recovery", don't it? Altough, if restoring from tape is a bitch, now imagine this one...
  • I hope they release the raw data. It can be used by flight simulator games to enhance the visual quality when rendering these monuments.
    • Show me one single flight simulator which is able to use data this accurate. For flight simulators it would be a new features to show the statue of liberty as seen by a fly.
      • Show me one single flight simulator which is able to use data this accurate.

        First of all, virtual reality systems have the concept of using different models for the same object, depending on the distance to the viewer (camera). Thus, a tree might be drawn with thousands of polygons when nearby, and only a few when it's barely visible.

        Secondly, given the full data, there are well known pre-processes to reduce polygon counts so that they can be rendered in real time.

        I wasn't talking about "the statue of liberty as seen by a fly", although that might be interesting.

    • I hope they release the raw data

      Then terrorists may be able to use it to their advantage to find weakspots in (for eg) Mount Rushmore. I imagine they will be able to find flaws in rushmore that could be exploited by high explosives.

      I wish I hadn't thought of that...

  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:44PM (#5021775)
    no one would know the replacements weren't *exact*, would they?

    How many millions do they intend to spend to replicate every ding and pidgeon dropping aquired over decades and not intended by the original artist in the first place?

    When you total your car, you can have it fixed or you can buy a new one, but attempting to *duplicate* the old one down to the placement of the least little old molocule not only pretty much defines "prohibitively expensive", but A: Isn't possible, and B: As an idea is just plain doofey.

  • Step One of our diabolical terrorist plan: Destroy the National Parks Service Headquarters!
  • Important (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jon Peterson ( 1443 ) <> on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:46PM (#5021792) Homepage
    This is very important. If our monuments are destroyed, we have to build them again exactly as they were before. That's because the key thing about monuments is not what they represent, but their particular physical specifications. By rebuilding exactly as before, we send a message to the terrorists that we keep very good records, and aren't afraid to use them.

    Contrast this to the way our enemies behave. When we bomb their command centers, rather than rebuilding them exactly as they were before, they rebuild them to be more bomb proof. This shows how little respect for their own history they have.
    • Re:Important (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Edgy Loner ( 44682 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @07:00PM (#5021889) Homepage
      Rather than destruction, think maintainence. After all the biggest threat to these structures is age. Documenting their condition now gives a benchmark to comapre against future conditions. That will make it possible to detect slow changes.
    • I'd be willing to bet that the architect of a replacement would certainly think about improving the original work. This doesn't mean having to change the outward appearance necessarily, it just means using electricity instead of fire, for example.
    • Re:Important (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @12:28AM (#5023354) Journal
      If our monuments are destroyed, we have to build them again exactly as they were before. That's because the key thing about monuments is not what they represent, but their particular physical specifications. By rebuilding exactly as before, we send a message to the terrorists that we keep very good records, and aren't afraid to use them.

      I assume that everyone realizes that this has little or nothing to do with terrorism. It's almost certainly simply that the Park Service wanted to produce maps of the damn things (to fix stuff later on, to let people build models with, etc), and couldn't get the funding. The way everyone has been getting funding for the past two years is claiming a terrorist tie-in, so the Park Service went for it.
  • by sakusha ( 441986 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:46PM (#5021796)
    and replace him with a robot replica.
  • by ademko ( 32584 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:47PM (#5021797)
    If anything happens to the Statue of Liberty, why not just send her back to France and get them to do warranty repair. I'm sure the French wouldn't mind, especially if you've purchased the extended warranty :)
  • I think what makes most of the US landmarks great is that they're originals. Anyone that's studied the history of Mount Rushmore knows that one of the great things about it is that it was so hard to make. To reproduce something like that nowadays rids us of the pre-destruction history. I like what they're planning on doing at ground zero, instead of recreating the two towers, they are planning on doing... something else... I don't like "undoing" bad things that happen, I think bad things are important to everyone and should be left as such. Hmm, so maybe they can make 3d models in the future for us to remember it. Life is life, bad stuff happens, people die. I don't know why America wants to prevent ANYTHING bad from happening. Errr, anything bad happening to them.
  • --at least, not in the sense of building it the same way, even approximately the same way, as it was before.

    Why does anyone think that we would try to rebuild exact copies of any other monument?

    Surely the emotional resonance of these monuments comes from the knowledge that they ARE original to the time in which they were built. How could a replica arouse any more genuine feeling than those in Las Vegas [] or Japan? []
  • by Macka ( 9388 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:50PM (#5021822)
    ..had the same thing done for his face last month; just in case he accidentally stepped out into a strong wind!

  • by Malicious ( 567158 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @06:50PM (#5021827)
    [devil's advocate]
    Shouldn't the US Gov concentrate harder on getting the DNA sequences of every American citizen, so that they can clone anyone killed in the terrorist attacks, wrather than focus on the materialistic parts of the country?
    What's more important?
    [/devil's advocate]
  • How about the USA changing its destructive foreign policy so we don't have terrorists trying to kill us and destroy monuments.

    Like that would ever happen though...

    And no. I didn't vote for Bush.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, because it's America's "destructive foreign policy" that causes terrorism. NOT a totally immoral, savage worldview (i.e. fundamentalist Islam) that helps breed it and make it a reality. That's like saying McDonald's causes obesity, and not the fat motherfuckers who decide to eat Big Mac's for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Personal responsibility for everyone -- including terrorism.

      Come on. Terrorists choose to be terrorists -- there is a clear line between those who are unhappy with American policy, and those who decide to kill innocent people in protest of it.
      • Yeah, because it's America's "destructive foreign policy" that causes terrorism.

        Sigh. If people don't hate you, they don't try so damn hard to kill you. And people don't hate you that much for no reason. They feel you have wronged them so much that they have no choice but to fight back. I'm not saying they're right, but to simply ignore the problem is not going to make it go away. Likewise, doubling your efforts in pissing off the rest of the world is unlikely to help much.

        I mean, if you lived next door to a guy with a flashy car, and every couple of weeks you took a key to the paintwork right under his nose, how surprised would you be if one day you came home to find someone had smashed all your windows? He was wrong to take the law into his own hands, he was wrong to extract revenge against you. But would anyone really blame him? Would you actually believe yourself to be totally blame free?

        Remember the old saying - One man's Terriorist is another man's Freedom Fighter.
    • How about the USA changing its destructive foreign policy so we don't have terrorists trying to kill us and destroy monuments.

      Like that would ever happen though...

      And no. I didn't vote for Bush.

      Stanley Feinbaum, professional journalist. I have no tolerance for bad journalism!

      Since I already responded to this idea, in the wrong part of the thread (sigh), here's a link to my answer:

      Link []
      Of course, basing your conclusions on false premises is bad journalism.

      Rocky J. Squirrel
    • Wow.

      I honestly never thought I'd see an american write that. Kudos.

  • Now, if only we had this before protoplasmic slime, a few wacky guys with a nintendo controller and bad music caused all those unsighlty stretchmarks on the statue of liberty..
  • it's funny... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mansoft ( 371174 )
    From the title, I imagined that having accurate 3D models of monuments could serve educational purposes... But it was just to reconstruct them in case of terrorist attacks! I mean, really, is anyone else sick of terrorism being the number 1 excuse for everything?
  • May not admit it, this project probably has a far more mundane purpose than the stated one of restoration in the event of terrorist attack. I think documentation and preservation are probably their goals. They want this information to record and document the process of oxidation on Lady Liberty, or how long Washington's nose is on Rushmore. However with the current climate it is far easier to get funding if there is a terrorism angle as opposed to boring old historical preservation. (When was the last time you read an article on monument preservation?)
  • by release7 ( 545012 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @07:10PM (#5021938) Homepage Journal
    I read about this project in the NYT a while back even before the WTC attack. So this project was under way before 9/11/01. As evidenced by this link, [] they are using the terrorist attacks to seek more funding for the project. For those without Acrobat Reader, the article says, 'The event [9/11] has raised the significance of the project. "There was dedication before but now the sense is there will be more funding."'

    So the project wasn't started as a direct result of the attacks as this headline would lead you to believe.

  • by Kaz Riprock ( 590115 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @07:13PM (#5021961)

    I'd imagine that if we were to give these plans to Lego, we'd have some really kickass home versions of all of the monuments. Or how about the 3D puzzle people? Or a craft store? There's consumeristic profit to be reaped from these laser scans...I wonder if the park system will see it.
    • I'd imagine that if we were to give these plans to Lego, we'd have some really kickass home versions of all of the monuments.

      You don't even have to ask:


  • We've been using this in mining for more than 5 years. It's excellent for making digital elevation models (so we can plan for mining and later restore the mined lands), collecting vegetation info, and so on. Here's a link, [] in PDF, to an old paper I had bookmarked.

    Man Gets 70mpg in Homemade Car-Made from a Mainframe Computer []

  • by Trillian_1138 ( 221423 ) <slashdot@frida[ ] ['yth' in gap]> on Sunday January 05, 2003 @07:21PM (#5022000)
    I agree, to some extent, that the idea of replacing the Statue of Liberty, Mt Rushmore, the Capitol Building, or any other well-known national monument as exactly as possible is slightly silly. The comment made about replacing a car after a crash, and not wanting to replicate all of the origonal dings and scratches is somewhat reasonable.

    But I think you're missing the point about the symbolism and memories contained in these monuments. If my car was totaled, I would be sad not only because I would have lost simply a means of transportation, but I would have lost a location where memories were made. Driving on the highway while friends taunted the 18 year-old engine ("Wow! It hit 55! You think it can get to sixty?"), packing 7 people into a 2-door hatchback, etc. I'd miss all that had happened in the car, as well as the car itself.

    Likewise, losing the Statue of Liberty to terrorists, a giant space-crane, Godzilla, or whatever won't simply mean there's new real-estate open on Liberty Island. It'll mean a national monument that watched over hundreds of thousands of immigrants, saw the USA through two World Wars, a presidential assasination, putting people on the moon, the Cold War, Vietnam, etc, etc, etc, will be gone.

    I use the Statue of Liberty as an example because I think it's America's 'best' and 'most important' monument. I don't particularly care for Mt. Rushmore (I think it's vaguely creepy), and the Capitol Building doesn't impress me much. The Statue of Liberty represents ideals that America hasn't always been great holding true to, I admit. I'll be the first to criticize the current administration and have no problem pointing out ways we've screwed up in the past. We've fucked up a lot, both internaly and with the rest of the world, and I'm sure we'll continue doing it. But I think the Statue of Liberty, or the Lincoln Memorial, or the Jefferson, or the Washington represent what is, has, and (I _really_ hope) will continue to be great about the USA.

    So. I don't think mapping these monuments down to a quarter inch is 'silly' or 'stupid' or a 'waste of time.' Having recently visited New York and seen Lady Liberty up close, and still strongly remembering my 8th grade clase trip to Washington D.C., I would be heartbroken if any of a number of our national monuments fell. I can't honestly say I would support rebuilding the Statue of Liberty exactly as she stood. It would be kind of weird, I recognize that.

    But I definatly think we should have the option. At the very least, it will allow for faithful 3D models to be replicated. Maybe someday my kids will be able to walk through a 3D model of New York City _exactly_ the way it stood on September 10th, 2001.

    So maybe these 3D models will be completely useless, either because the monuments will not be attacked or because people won't want to rebuild them exactly the same.

    But I think it would be a horrible shame not to have the option.

    • Isn't it important to get beyond icons? What good are these symbols of freedom and liberty, if the land for which they stand no longer holds firm to those ideals in the face of some threat from abroad? How can Lady Liberty mean anything in this country today, where immigrants are rounded up and shipped off for the slightest violation of the conditions of their stay?

      Map the monuments, but understand that without truth and ideals behind them, they are only rusting metal and eroding stone.
      • Agreed. There's certainly no point in reprinting the poem at the bottom until it's true again. "Take your poor, your tired, keep them at home, or ship them off to some free country, but if you let them come here, we'll jail them for a while and maybe ship them back." This certainly isn't the country I grew up in, though it's becoming more like the one most of my ancestors moved to, a colony with a nearby theocracy and a distant tyrrany that was rapidly decreasing in its respect for the traditional rights of Englishmen.
  • by Sayten241 ( 592677 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @07:29PM (#5022043)
    Who leaves a job like this up to college kids. I can just see a post-apocolyptic era in which the statue of liberty is a girl in a bikini waving a sign that says "Texas A&M blows" on it.
  • Not The Panacea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @07:31PM (#5022059) Homepage
    From the article []:
    "The world-famous lady has posed for millions of photos, but since her creator left no blueprints and only minimal design sketches, replacing her in the event of a catastrophic loss would have been all but impossible.

    Nonsense. The difficulty would be the engineering, but quite far from "all but impossible." What laser mapping the surface does is give us an accurate measure of the skin (both inside and out). Laser mapping doesn't tell us jack about the underlying structure which is where the vast, vast majority of the work would be. And the skin can be replicated from the extremely high resolution pictures we already have.

    In other words this makes a difficult task a bit easier. This does not bridge some do-or-die gap where if we didn't have it we couldn't accomplish the task.
    • Rebuilding the "skeleton" part of Liberty was already figured out for the rehab about 15 years ago. Where the laser mapping gets interesting is for the problem of refabricating any damaged plates. If that part isn't done exactly, preserving defects and all, it's going to show.
  • I want to know what they would do with the statue of liberty because it's made of copper so any repairs made to it would be bright shiny copper with the rest of it being the green corroded copper. I suppose they'd more likely knock the whole statue down and rebuild it. I think if there were large salvagable pieces of the feet, torch or face that they should be preserved some way as a monument instead of rebuilding it though.
  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @08:06PM (#5022250) Homepage
    So they're reverse-engineering architectural features for the purpose of making replacement copies. I wonder if this falls under the jurisdiction of the DMCA?

    Hopefully it would fall under 'fair use' as it is (reportedly) for backup purposes.

  • by morgajel ( 568462 ) <slashreader AT morgajel DOT com> on Sunday January 05, 2003 @08:15PM (#5022296) Homepage
    so far every post I've read is complaining about "taxpayers money at work" or "why bother?"'re looking at it the wrong way-

    think of the uses of these maps!
    ut2003, doom3, quake 10, counterstrike:anti-terrorist unit, etc... what ever.
  • by RealTime ( 3392 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @08:54PM (#5022459)
    About two years ago, I worked for Cyra, the company whose Cyrax 2500 they are using to scan these monuments. The device is pretty cool, but expensive at US $125,000 for one unit, not including any license seats of the Cyclone software you need to manipulate the HUGE data sets that the device generates. All you get from the device is a cloud of individual points. It really takes the software that runs on the PC (Cyclone) to turn the point clouds into surfaces and then into files compatible with CAD systems like AutoCAD and Microstation.

    By the way, it is a good thing that none of these monuments that they are scanning with the Cyrax 2500 are red. The green laser used by the unit doesn't even see some shades of red. There was a bright red toolbox in the lab that would crash the scanner every time until we got the "no-return timeout" code right.

    It's too bad the company is in such a bad financial situation. The device is really cool, but the slowing US economy has really put the brakes on large capital expenditures like the Cyrax 2500, even though many studies have shown that the labor costs savings and the improved accuracy of the results more than make up for the cost of the device and the training.

    For those of you who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, a Cyrax 2400 (the previous model) was used to scan the existing I-880 / US-101 interchange in order to obtain a starting point for designing the new interchange they are currently building. The next time you are travelling south-bound on I-880 near the Montague Expressway exit, look at the paved shoulder and see if the spray-painted "scan 101" etc. marks are still there, indicating where the parked the "scan van" to take each of the scans they stitched together to get the entire interchange model.

    I guess I've rambled on long enough...
  • We had guy visit our lab from Japan a few months ago- he's been working on a similar project [] there to take laser scans of huge Buddah statues and temples. IIRC there were a couple of reasons for doing this- the obvious one being to preserve their cultural heritage. I think one reason was a ban on military research due to WWII, so they have to find ways to apply neat tech which don't involve blowing shit up. (don't quote me on that). I believe they also did a computer reconstruction of a temple which used to be around one of the statues but was destroyed in a tsunami, so you could do a virtual walkthrough of a nonexistent temple, with an accurate virtual statue inside.
    He also talked about some of the neat texture mapping they're working on to map the images back onto the laser scanned models.
  • National Park Service is creating detailed 3-D maps of the Statue of Liberty using high-resolution laser scanners.

    Ah, I see Mr. Ashcroft is going ahead with his plans of fitting her with a burqa.

  • Oh well guess I should cancel that trip to the Statue of Liberty.

    The US Government has money troubles, and this technology is not cheap, definitely not to scan all the monuments. It takes time so you have to pay the workers to run the scanners, transport the equipment, and so on. Once the images are scanned they have to be processed using up computing power. The article mentions "But after 9/11, the project won a renewed commitment, increased funding, a speedier timetable and access to government helicopters for overhead photography." If the government is short on money but is funding these projects they think an attack is coming(and they should know, they sure take away enough freedom to spy on terrorists and everyone else). The real question is if the US Government thinks an attack is coming, shouldn't the US Citizens and non US Citizens who come to tour the country?
    • by jwcollins ( 638778 ) on Sunday January 05, 2003 @11:18PM (#5023055) Homepage
      I think you're overestimating the cost of this technology. I worked for the company that manufactures this laser scanner (Cyra Technologies, []) from 1998 to 2000. Now, mind you, I was an electronics engineer, not one of the modelers that do the scans and manipulate the data sets. But I'll nonetheless provide some guesstimates.

      For something like the Statue of Liberty that's not overly big and that you can scan from the ground, 1 or 2 people could probably do the ~10-20 scans it would probably need in about a day. All you would need to do would be to rope off the area immediately around the scanner (ie. no need to close the Statue of Liberty while they're doing it). A Cyrax 2500 I believe sells for the order of ~100 US kilobucks. Rental on it for a day or two, you can estimate as well as I can.

      As for computing power to process the scans, all you need is Cyra's software running on a high end PC. For something like the Statue of Liberty, say 10-20 scans, simple stitching together, you're talking one skilled modeler working on it for maybe a day. Definitely not more than 1 person-week. I won't claim that all US landmarks would be this straightforward to scan, but this technology is very fast, very accurate, and cheap to use. Using old fashioned techniques (ie. photogrammetry), yes, this would cost a fortune. Photogrammetry would require scaffolding, closing the site, cutting and pasting photos, etc.

      • So how is the stitching happening in Cyra's software? This is a nontrivial task, to reconstruct a surface from a set of data points. Or is this proprietory information? :-)

        One of the coolest 3d surface reconstruction algorithms I've seen to date is the crust algorithm []. With a clever combination of Voronoi cells and Delaunay triangulation it does a very very good job of recreating the surface. Very cool stuff!


    • The real question is if the US Government thinks an attack is coming, shouldn't the US Citizens and non US Citizens who come to tour the country?

      I think Al Qa'eda's promise to kill 4 million Americans and Jews was a good hint.

      Do you know anyone who thinks we're safe?

      Ford stood up. "We're safe," he said.

      "Oh good, said Arthur."

      "We're in a small galley cabin," said Ford, in one of the spaceships of the Vogon Constructor Fleet."

      "Ah," said Arthur," this is obviously some strange usage of the word safe that I wasn't previously aware of."

      Rocky J. Squirrel
  • by Anonymous Coward
    . . . and other classic sculptures because all of classical Europe is fizzing into oblivion because of acid rain.

    The David sculpture is over 4 meters high and was scanned at 0.2mm resolution. The thing had 2.7 billion triangles in it!

    You could see the tool marks in the pupil.

    This was 2-3 years ago. Can't find the site.
  • I wonder how much these lasers are worth? I bet that if the rented them out to - for example - movie companies, they could get some nice cash inflow. If anything, the porno industry would probably have a great time animating real models/stars into meshes (make Brittney do anything you want, now in 3d!).

    How much do these things cost for less industrial versions anyways, I'm surprised the slashgeeks haven't made on that runs on linux (if you have, please send me a link or put it up here).
    • by jwcollins ( 638778 ) on Monday January 06, 2003 @03:02AM (#5023898) Homepage
      These things cost on the order of USD$100k for the hardware, more for the modeling software.

      And these have been used in several movies. If you remember Starship Troopers from several years ago, the ending scene with the 2 humans captured in a cave with about a zillion "bugs". The initial Cyrax prototype system was used to scan and model the cave (a real life set made from styrofoam). With the computer model of the meatspace cave, the computer animators could add the bugs and not have them hanging in mid-air or their legs halfway buried in the floor, etc.

      A 1st generation Cyrax (model 2400) was used to model the sharks in Deep Blue Sea. It was also used for the climax scene in some circa 1999 Arnold movie, whose title escapes me. There were several other movie uses that also escape me. Some disney/Robin Williams flick I think.

      How do I know? I used to work for Cyra Technologies ( []) from Aug 1998 to Apr 2000.

      Cyra and several surveying companies that own Cyraxes (cyraxen?) do rent them out and rent out operators and modelers. Cyra and possibly others also provide training to cyrax customers.

      As for the obligatory linux question, I'm sorry to disappoint you. The Cyrax 2500 runs a real time OS from ATI (no, not that ATI) called Nucleus [] on an embedded PowerPC processor. (Note: website appears to be down right now). There are other embedded processors also in the system. How do I know? I designed the initial versions of 3 circuit boards boards and 2 FPGAs for the Cyrax 2500. The PC-side modeling software runs under windoze NT (probably now 2K/XP--dunno; I left in 2000). The modeling software was originally prototyped on SGI boxes under opengl. It was ported to windoze before the first commercial release of a Cyrax.

      All hope is not lost, however. One of the hats I wore while working there was linux sysadmin. We had 3 linux servers to run e-mail, web, and file servers for the firmware engineering and manufacturing groups. I don't know if this setup still exists after Cyra was bought by Leica Geosystems in early 2001.

      • It wasn't really an obligatory linux question... it's just that if something seems impossible or somewhatnutty to try then oftimes a linux geek will be the one with a solution. It could have been a windows app too, but linux is more likely - more dedication to forging new frontiers - or possibly a Mac addict.
  • Looks like Lego have already done reconnaissance of their own - here [] and here [].

    Hang on - maybe we could just rebuild the monuments with Lego. Wouldn't that be a whole lot easier for all concerned..?

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?