Saturday, February 20, 2010

Atlantis found

Last year around this time, some guy claimed to have found the lost city of Atlantis on Google Earth. A British aeronautical engineer was playing around with the new Google Earth 5.0, which includes undersea data, and noticed something funny off the coast of Africa, about 600 miles west of the Canary Islands. It shows a rectangular grid with what looks like roadways leading away from it at the coordinates 31 15'15.53N 24 15'30.53W.

Google was quick to dismiss his claims. They claimed "what users are seeing is an artifact of the data collection process," Google said. "Bathymetric (or seafloor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the seafloor. The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data."

In case you've been living under a rock for your entire life, Atlantis is a legendary island mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias that supposedly sank 9,000 years before Plato was born, "in a single day and night of misfortune". Basically ever since Plato wrote the story of Atlantis down scholars have been debating the realness of it. My personal belief is that Atlantis was really Santorini, a small greek island that was partially sunk by a volcano around 1645—1600 BC. Plato was either confused or attempting to turn the story into a morality tale. He probably added the fantastical elements to draw the reader in.

Originally Atlantis was believed to have great scientific knowledge far ahead of anywhere else at that time. Dolphins were more often associated with Atlantis than mermaids in the past whereas today Atlantis is often associated with Poseidon/Neptune and mermaids. In most of these stories after sinking Atlantis became home to merpeople. DC comics character Aquaman lives in a neighboring city to Atlantis while Lori Lemaris (Superman's one time girlfriend) is from Atlantis. There is a mermaids of Atlantis game and an expansion pack to the game Zeus where you build Atlantis for Poseidon. Even on the Spongebob show, Atlantis is the capitol of the sea and where the merman King Neptune resides.

My favorite "take" on this is the Futurama episode The Deep South. In the episode the crew's ship is dragged underwater where Fry meets and dates a mermaid named Umbriel.  Instead of being from Atlantis, it turns out the merpeople are from the fabled lost city of Atlanta (that's where this site gets its name.) This episode is HILARIOUS! It's chock full of really great under sea moments and southern stereotypes. I won't spoil it for y'all, but one of my favorite scenes is of Dr. Zoidberg doing a little gardening by his new house!

Tomorrow I'll post the tale of Atlantis as related in the Encyclopedia of things that never were.

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