16 ways technology is mapping the universe

MN: FOR MOST OF US, the mapping technology we use on a daily basis is limited to dash-mounted GPS units.

No disrespect — I mean, just 10 years ago we were dependent on hard-copy road atlases to get where we were going; cutting-edge meant route-finding in Mapquest and then printing off the pages.

But as you read this, hundreds of teams of scientists are working with vastly more complex technologies to map everything from the far reaches of the universe to the most infinitesimally small particles within it. Just a few weeks ago, astronomers using the still-under-construction ALMA observatory (pictured above) made a major discovery about the nearby Fomalhaut system — basically, that it probably contains a bunch of Earth-sized planets.

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