Google Earth may be a cool way to learn about the planet and its geography but for one man it was the gateway to finding his birth mother. The BBC reports that a resident of India, Saroo Brierley, got separated from his family at the age of five in 1986 when he lost contact with his older brother during a train trip.
The boy managed to find a orphanage in Calcutta and later was adopted by a couple from Tasmania. However, he still wanted to reconnect with his real family. The problem was that he had no idea where he lived in India before he arrived in Calcutta.
He did have some information he could use as a basis. He stated, "I multiplied the time I was on the train, about 14 hours, with the speed of Indian trains and I came up with a rough distance, about 1,200km."
Using Calcutta as the center, Saroo went to Google Earth and created a circle with the appropriate distance. He found a town that matched his calculations on Google Earth, Khandwa. He did remember some landmarks of the town and viewed them on the map, including a waterfall where he played in his youth.
Saroo made the journey to Khandwa and, through a combination of his own memories and getting information from its residents, he quickly found his mother after 25 years. He also found out that his older brother died via a train accident a month after Saroo went missing. As you might imagine, this story is already getting attention from film makers who want to adapt Saroo's journey into a movie.