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Science  15 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6002, pp. 330-331
DOI: 10.1126/science.1197667

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For most of recorded human history, maps had a local focus and were used to navigate from landmark to landmark. This changed with the invention of the sextant, which for the first time allowed us to place ourselves relative to an external standard such as the Sun, Moon, or a distant star. Maps quickly became global, although navigation was still largely local. Then we decided to build our own star-equivalents, satellites, and it became possible to have a Global Positioning System (GPS) that could determine our location to within meters.