Astral projection is the practice that supposedly allows humans to separate their consciousness from their physical bodies and travel anywhere in the universe. It's all crunchy New Age hooey, of course -- or at least it was until about a decade ago when Google engineered it into existence.
In 2007, Google Maps introduced Street View, which gave users access to street-level, 360-degree views of just about every address in the United States, followed shortly thereafter -- and somewhat more controversially -- by the rest of the world. Not only does Maps allow users to take a stroll through most neighborhoods in the world, it can be used to conduct local business searches, find real-time traffic conditions and even see local bike trails.
If you take a moment to think about it, that's absolutely insane! The very fact that this technology exists (and is available for free) should be the lead story on the news every night: "Breaking News: all humans are still omniscient beings with God-like powers of teleportation!" But that's not how we see things. We just take these superpowers for granted. Which is kind of sad, really.
Regardless of how you feel about it, Google Maps (and the newly revamped Google Earth) remain powerful and versatile tools -- and most of us are only scratching at the surface of what they have to offer. Here, we present 26 cool things you didn't know Google Maps could do.