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Al Gore headlining Google event: Google Ocean?

The former vice president will speak at an event to share news about Google Earth. Could this be the 3D view of the Earth's oceans?

Layoffs and other expense controls show that Google isn't immune to mundane economic realities. But the company's cool factor is still intact, judging by the fact that it signed up former Vice President Al Gore to speak at a Google Earth event next month.

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle
Oceanographer Sylvia Earle will speak at a Google Earth event February 2. National Geographic Society

Gore is set to join Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt and Marissa Mayer, vice president of search products and user experience, at the on February 2 event at the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco's newly rebuilt aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum. But it's another speaker's name that gives the tip-off about what the event might be about.

That person is oceanographer Sylvia Earle, explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society and the founder of the Deep Search Foundation.

Hmm--an aquarium, oceanographer, and a high-profile politician interested in the fate of the Earth. Perhaps this will be the announcement of Google's work to add 3D ocean maps to Google Earth?

An invitation to the event described it only as an announcement of "the next big step in the evolution of Google Earth."

Google Earth and Google Maps already show satellite views of the Earth, and the sights can be inverted to show the heavens through Google Sky.