Tag Archives: Mountain View

Planting some green this Earth Day

Cross-posted on the Lat Long and Google Green blogs

Since 1970, people all over the world have recognized April 22 as Earth Day, an opportunity to appreciate and generate awareness about the natural environment. Here at Google we strive to do our part to make sure our planet is healthy for years to come. From investing in renewable energy to building products that help people be greener in their own lives, we’re building a better web that’s better for the environment.

Today, we’re celebrating Earth Day in a variety of ways. The coming of spring inspired us to grow our annual Earth Day doodle right in our backyard. We planted seeds on a balcony at our Mountain View headquarters and watched them grow into what you see today. We’re also partnering with Friends of the Urban Forest to help make San Francisco schools a little greener.

To help you start a garden of your own, we’ve put together an Earth Day resource page. Explore community gardens and farmers’ markets on our interactive map, get discounted seeds to plant flowers, herbs and vegetables in your own backyard and connect with other gardeners for planting tips and inspiration.

We hope you find these resources useful and enjoy gardening as much as we do. On our Mountain View, Calif. campus, we have community gardens where Googlers can grow and harvest their choice of herbs and vegetables. Company-wide, we focus on getting organic, locally-grown produce for our cafes. We purchase food directly from farms near our campuses, and learn about how our suppliers raise, farm and harvest their food—all to ensure that we’re eating sustainably and being good to the environment.

We hope this Earth Day you are inspired to add a little green to the planet. Earth Day may only be a single day, but the actions we take can last for years to come.

Technologists and muckrakers pursuing a more perfect union

Today, roughly 200 reporters, editors and technologists are gathering at the Googleplex in Mountain View for our first TechRaking summit. Co-hosted with the Center for Investigative Reporting, the oldest nonprofit investigative reporting organization in the United States, this gathering is meant to inspire muckraking by exploring tools that help reporters tell stories with greater interactivity, opportunities for long-form journalism to thrive in new mediums, best practices for verifying information and fact-checking online and much more throughout the course of the day. Think of it as the intersection of science and art when it comes to converting information into knowledge.

Here are a few of the highlights in store:

  • The Center for Investigative Reporting will discuss its new Knight Foundation-funded investigative news channel on YouTube that will be a hub of investigative journalism. Expected to launch in July, the channel will feature videos from major broadcasters and independent producers globally—both nonprofit and for-profit—and is an example of the power of collaborations that can serve the public.
  • The Google Fusion Tables team will discuss tips and tricks for data-driven journalists with Wendy Levy and Jeremy Rue during an afternoon breakout discussion. In another step toward making it easier for people in any industry to discover, manage and visualize data, this morning we announced a new interface for Fusion Tables, which helps you better explore and collaborate on data, includes more visualizations under the “experimental” tab and has a new Fusion Tables API for developers.
  • Richard Gingras, head of news product at Google, is kickstarting the day with a series of questions for journalists, newsrooms and technologists to consider. Mary Himinkool, who leads global entrepreneurship, is delivering a rapid-fire seven-minute look at lessons learned from entrepreneurs around the world, and Brian Rakowski from Chrome is sharing the process involved in rethinking the modern browser.

We wish we could have welcomed an even larger crowd, but for those who weren’t able to join us in person, tune in to the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Google+ page for updates from the day and highlights afterward. At 1:30pm PT we’ll broadcast a Hangout with Krishna Bharat (distinguished research scientist at Google and founder of Google News), Amna Nawaz (Pakistan bureau chief/correspondent at NBC News), Nic Robertson (senior international correspondent at CNN), Sarah Hill (news anchor at KOMU) and Sree Sreenivasan (dean of student affairs and professor, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism). You can also follow #techraking and participate on Twitter.

TechRaking was born out of a lunchtime conversation at NewsFoo, another unconventional conference focused on moving forward the future of journalism and technology. We look forward to seeing the ideas and outcomes that emerge and develop from today.

Ask your question in the 2012 Google Science Fair

Are human beings born curious, or can curiosity be nurtured through environment, competition or a good teacher? Everyone’s got a question—that’s ours. But we’re sure you’ve got tons of questions, too. Today, we’re inviting students around the world to pose their most pressing questions about the world around them and answer those questions through scientific inquiry.

Along with our partners CERN, The LEGO Group, National Geographic and Scientific American, today we’re launching the second annual Google Science Fair, the largest online science competition in the world, open globally to students ages 13-18. Either individually or in teams of up to three people, students pose a question, develop a hypothesis and conduct science experiments to test it. The entire process is detailed and submitted online, via a website template participants fill out themselves, so all you need to participate is curiosity, an Internet connection and a browser.

Last year, we received entries that strove to solve a wide variety of needs, from “How can I cure cancer?” to “Can I teach a robot to learn English?” to “Can I build a faster sailboat?” The breadth and depth of these projects was incredibly impressive, and this year we hope to see even more entries from the next generation of brilliant young scientists.

This year’s fair will be even more global than the last: We’re now accepting submissions in 13 languages (Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish and Russia). We will also be recognizing 90 regional finalists (30 from the Americas, 30 from the Asia Pacific and 30 from Europe/Middle East/Africa). From these 90, to be announced in May, our judges will select the top 15 finalists, who will be flown to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. for our live Google Science Fair final event on July 23, 2012. At the finals, a panel of distinguished international judges (like Vint Cerf, Sylvia Earle and Nobel Laureates David Gross and Ada Yonath) will select top winners in each age category (13-14, 15-16, 17-18).

We’re also introducing a new category for this year’s competition—the Scientific American Science in Action award. We were so inspired by 2011 finalist Harine Ravichandran’s project, which attempted to solve energy surges in rural villages, that we decided to recognize an outstanding project that addresses a social, environmental or health need to make a difference in the lives of a group or community, as Harine’s project did for her grandparents’ village in India. The winner will also be flown to Mountain View for the finalist event in July.

The Google Science Fair opens today, January 12, worldwide, and we’ll accept submissions until Sunday, April 1 at 11:59 GMT (or 6:59pm ET/3:59pm PT). In addition to satisfying your curious mind, your brilliant project can also help to win you some pretty cool prizes, like a $50,000 college scholarship from Google, a 10-day trip to the Galapagos Islands with a National Geographic Explorer or an internship at Google or any one of our partners. Our Scientific American Science in Action award winner will earn $50,000 and year-long mentorship to make their project goal a reality.

The winners of last year’s inaugural Google Science Fair became something like scientific rock stars. Shree Bose, Naomi Shah and Lauren Hodge met with President Obama, were invited to speak at big events like TEDx Women and were featured in Wired magazine. Shree, our grand prize winner, was named one of Glamour magazine’s 21 Amazing Young Women of the Year. White House visits and Glamour aside, every student in the Google Science Fair has the chance to do hands-on research that can truly change the world.

Visit google.com/sciencefair and ask your most burning questions at the top of your voice for the world to hear. Google itself was founded through experimentation and with the Google Science Fair, we hope to inspire scientific exploration among the next generation of scientists and engineers, celebrate scientific talent, create scientific role models and unite students around the world in the quest for learning.

Google blogging (and beyond) in 2011

With just a few hours of 2011 remaining in Mountain View, Calif., we’re taking our traditional look at the past year on the Official Google Blog, as well as Google’s presence on Google+ and Twitter.

On the blog this year, we published 471 posts (including this one)—17 more than 2010. Those posts were read by nearly 20 million people; we had 19,905,679 unique visitors between January 1 and December 31. We find a few themes in the most popular posts: Google+ was a favorite topic, as well as greater focus and simplicity across Google, and search quality. The top 10 posts are:

Other popular posts included the announcement that Larry Page was becoming CEO, a project to help Egyptians communicate during the January protests, Google+ updates and +1 news, a keeping your information safe from phishing campaigns, patents and Androidpractical steps toward greener computing, more search news and the debut of Google Wallet. We shared special doodles (from Lucy to Les Paul to the lunar eclipse, and Jules Verne to Jim Henson) and stories from unique Google users. We brought music to the cloud, Ice Cream Sandwich to your pocket, and great works of art and pieces of history to your computer screens. We worked to help those affected by disasters in Japan and elsewhere, told some history tales, and, as always, had some fun along the way.

Like many of you, we were excited to start using Google+ Pages when they launched in November. We’re now running 22 pages for Google products and teams; nearly 100,000 of you have the flagship page, +Google, in your circles. Popular posts there include photos of our L.A. office, holiday, New Year and Marie Curie doodles, the year-end Zeitgeist, Google Photography Prize and Sebastian Thrun on self-driving cars.

We’ll soon celebrate @google’s third anniversary on Twitter, and we hit the 4 million follower mark this month. Popular tweets include the Les Paul doodle, patents and Android, Motorola, Larry and Sergey remembering Steve Jobs, Google Wallet, Google+ and Wael Ghonim.

As the clock ticks toward the close of 2011, we thank our readers for following along—by feed reader, phone app or however you please—and hope you join us for the next year of Google news. Happy 2012!

On your mark, get set, GOMC!

Professor registration for the 2012 Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC) is now open.
GOMC is a global online marketing competition open to professors and their students in any higher education institution. Professors sign up for the contest and then serve as guides and mentors to their student participants throughout the competition. Over the course of three weeks, student teams are tasked with developing and running a successful online advertising campaign for real businesses or nonprofit organizations using Google AdWords. In the process, they sharpen their advertising, consulting and data analysis skills. (Note: student registration will open on January 31, 2012 and students can only enter if their professors have signed up already and must sign up under their own professors).

After running their online advertising campaign for three weeks, students summarize their experiences in campaign reports, which they submit online. Based on the performance of the campaigns and the quality of the reports, Googlers on the GOMC team and a panel of independent academics select the winning teams.

The global winners and their professor will receive a trip to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. The regional winners (and their professor) will win a trip to local Google offices, and the social impact award winners will be able to make donations to nonprofit organizations that were part of the GOMC competition.

Last year’s challenge had 50,000 participants representing 100 countries, and this year we expect even more. For more information, visit www.google.com/onlinechallenge. Professors, here is a chance to help your students sharpen their marketing skills and make a global impact!

Happy hollowing!

When I was a little kid, Halloween seemed like the most grown-up holiday of all. For one thrilling night of the year, I got to stay up late trick-or-treating, watch scary movies with my friends, and wield sharp and pointy objects (safety first, of course!) while carving a macabre face into a pumpkin.

Now that I’m older, my perspective on Halloween has shifted a bit. It’s now the holiday that most celebrates a childlike sense of wonder and amazement. Ordinary people and places are temporarily transformed into creepy and whimsical versions of their former selves: a zombie rises with the aid of corn syrup and some red food coloring, your everyday home becomes a haunted house with eerie lights and a spooky soundtrack, and a pumpkin—an otherwise plain-looking squash—is a grinning ghoul, with the help of only a candle, a knife and some elbow grease.

To celebrate Halloween this year, the doodle team wanted to capture that fascinating transformation that takes place when carving a pumpkin. Instead of picking up a few pumpkins from the grocery store, however, we decided to work on six giant pumpkins, specially delivered from nearby Half Moon Bay (some weighing well over 1,000 pounds). What you see is a timelapse video of the approximately eight hours we spent carving in the middle of our Mountain View, Calif. campus.

Googlers got into the Halloween spirit as well—you can see their costumed cameos if you have a quick eye. Many thanks to Slavic Soul Party! and composer Matt Moran for providing a fitting soundtrack for our Halloween hijinks.

For an inside look at how we set up the shoot, watch our behind-the-scenes video:

From all of us at Google, take care, be safe and have fun this Halloween!

Taking cars off the road with our transportation programs

This is the third in a short series of posts and videos spotlighting our efforts to make Google greener. In this post, we give you a glimpse at how our transportation programs help Googlers get to work while leaving their cars at home. -Ed.

Commuting to work without driving, meeting with someone on another continent without flying and riding cars without gasoline? It’s not a futuristic dream, but a way of life at Google. We support and encourage carbon-free commuting because it’s a vital part of our longstanding commitment to sustainability.

We help take cars off of the road—not quite like the Hulk, but we are green. Back in 2004, one motivated Googler started a vanpool that ran from San Francisco to Mountain View as a 20 percent project. As demand grew, the program morphed into what is now one of the largest corporate shuttle services in the country. Today, up to a third of employees ride the GBus shuttles throughout our Bay Area offices five days a week—that’s more than 3,500 daily riders, or 7,000 one-way car trips avoided each day.

Beyond the convenience and comfort that our shuttle rides offer—of which I’m reminded during my daily 35-mile commute from Alameda to Mountain View—they’re also environmentally friendly. Our shuttles have the cleanest diesel engines ever built and run on 5 percent bio-diesel, so they’re partly powered by renewable resources that help reduce our carbon footprint. In fact, we’re the first and largest company with a corporate transportation fleet using engines that meet the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2010 emission standards.

Not only do we encourage self-powered commuting, we reward it. Googlers earn credits each time they get to work via alternative (non-engine) means—by bike, foot, skateboard or kayak. These credits are then translated into a dollar amount that gets donated—$100 for every 20 days of participation—to the Googler’s charity of choice. This year, 56 offices also participated in “Bike to Work Day,” with more than 2,500 Googlers who biked to work worldwide. The annual celebration is meant to reward daily cyclists as well as introduce many new riders to biking.

The green life doesn’t stop once Googlers get to work. In Mountain View, our GBike system distributes about 1,000 bikes across the campus that Googlers can pick up whenever they have to get to another building. For longer distances and off-campus trips, we have the GFleet, our electric vehicle car share program, and our on-campus taxi service GRide. We’re also installing hundreds of electric vehicle charging stations throughout several of our offices, making it easy for Googlers to charge up their own electric cars for free at work. If Googlers need to chat with their colleagues in other cities or continents they can use video conferencing technology, which cuts down on potential air travel.

In total, the combination of the GFleet and our shuttles result in net annual savings of more than 5,400 metric tons of CO2. That’s like taking over 2,000 cars off the road every day, or avoiding 14 million vehicle miles every year. With the help of Googlers, we’ll continue powering the wheels of sustainable transit innovation.

Food for (green) thought

This is the second in a short series of posts and videos spotlighting our efforts to make Google greener. In this post, we give you a glimpse at our sustainable food programs. -Ed.

When it comes to eating sustainably, it’s about more than being organic, grass-fed or cage-free. Through our food program, we delight and support Googlers as well as uphold our company’s health and environmental values. And it’s a job we relish, because food is such a defining part of our unique culture. Our cafes and microkitchens help spark greater innovation and collaboration, allowing different teams to come together to share ideas, problem-solve or just get to know each other better over lunch or a mid-morning snack.

As part of Google’s Food Team, we serve roughly 50,000 healthy and delicious meals every day at nearly 100 cafes around the world—and strive to apply sustainable food principles to all the cafes we operate. We aim to source food that’s as local, seasonal and organic as possible. This helps us prevent artificial additives, pesticides and hormones from entering Google’s food supply—whether that means sourcing our eggs from cage-free chickens or using steroid- and antibiotic-free poultry. It’s fresher, and it tastes better!

Through Google’s Green Seafood Policy, we’ve established guidelines to help ensure that (whenever and wherever possible) we purchase species caught locally from independently managed fisheries that use environmentally responsible catch practices. At our Mountain View headquarters, where we benefit from our proximity to the ocean and local agriculture, we’ve been able to establish close relationships with several local, independent farmers and fishermen. We see firsthand how they raise and harvest their stock, and what sustainable catch methods they use. Much of our Mountain View produce (nearly half of which is organic) comes from farms in California, and our seafood comes from within 200 miles. Many of our campuses also have edible gardens that empower green-thumbed Googlers to grow herbs for their own cooking.

Because optimal eating habits extend beyond the walls of our offices, we’re committed to helping Googlers make the most informed choices possible as part of a healthy lifestyle. We want to not only become the healthiest workforce, but also make it easier for employees to take Google’s sustainable food values home to share with friends and family. Many of our offices in the U.S. offer Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs where Googlers can buy fresh, seasonal produce directly from local farms that’s delivered right to campus. In Mountain View, we also recently launched the Google Green Grocer program, where Googlers can order the same high-quality, sustainably sourced seafood, meat and eggs they already enjoy in our cafes, while supporting local community fisheries and farms.

We also pay very close attention to how we manage and reduce waste from our food program. Most employees use non-disposable dishware, and all of our grab-and-go containers are compostable. We have recycling and composting bins throughout many of our offices worldwide, and 20 percent of food waste from our cafes is recycled. In fact, organic food waste from our cafes in Europe, the Middle East and Africa is recycled to help produce bio-diesel or electricity. In some of our U.S. offices, any untouched, edible food is donated to local shelters, and the rest is put to use as compost.

Through our our cafes, microkitchens, edible gardens and community-supported food programs, we’re connecting Googlers to sustainable values on a daily basis. The more we care about what happens to the food on our plates and where it comes from, the more it can improve our health, our local economies and the environment.