Al Gore takes Google underwater

Ever since the contested presidential election in Florida in 2000 — when hanging chads and Supreme Court intervention kept him from victory — former Vice President Al Gore has been a political rock star in Democratic circles. 

When Barack Obama conferred with Gore during the presidential transition last fall, political rumors flew that the former vice president, who has made global warming his signature issue and the topic of his Academy Award winning song, would be part of the new administration.

But today Gore demonstrated why being out of power can be far more fun than being inside the bubble. At the California Academy of Sciences, where a planetarium, an aquarium and a natural history museum vie for public attention, the Nobel Peace Prize winner got to inaugurate a new Google feature.

"Google Ocean" is the extension of Google's global mapping software first unrolled with Google Earth and Google Sky. As Gore, a member of Apple's board of directors and an advisor to Google, said Monday, the view of the sea floor in 3D is magical.

"You can not only zoom into whatever part of our planet's surface you wish to examine in closer detail, you can now dive into the world's ocean that covers almost three-quarters of the planet and discover new wonders that had not been accessible in previous versions," he said.

The software is downloadable free at