This is both amazingly cool and horribly frustrating. The Institute for the Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia has built a complete 3D model of the city of Rome as it was in 320 A.D. “Rome Reborn”, as it’s called, is astoundingly sharp and consists of billions of data points. FTA:
“To create the digital model, researchers scanned a 3,000 square foot, 1/250 plaster model of the city – the “Plastico di Roma Antica” – which was completed in the 1970s. Because of the model’s intricacy – the Plastico’s Coliseum is only 8 inches tall — Italian engineers used laser radar originally designed to measure precise tolerances on jet parts to scan within a tenth of a millimeter. Each 6-by-6 section contained 60 million data points.”
As of now it has only been licensed to a tour company in Rome, but they’re in talks with Second Life to bring it there. We can only hope that it might find its way into Google Earth or one of the other digital globes one day as well.