Google Earth: Atlantis Still Lost Among New Finds
According to news sources, it was English aeronautical engineer, Bernie Bamford, who told a British newspaper that Google Earth had detected the whereabouts of the ancient city of Atlantis. Upon viewing what was thought to be a grid of streets and the outlines of a big city on the sea floor about 600 miles off the coast of West Africa, Bamford as well as other experts on the subject agreed that it was ‘a possible site’ of the lost metropolis. The Google powers that be have denied all claims to the statement.
Google Earth is free, downloadable software created by Google, which allows the user to access satellite photos of just about any place on earth. Google authorities have stated that the grid lines Bamford saw were in fact made by boats using sonar technology to collect data from the sea floor. They go on to say that although the Atlantis claim was false, Google Earth has been very successful in locating other fascinating, heretofore unknown places, such as a pristine forest in Mozambique that is home to previously unknown species of creatures and the remains of an ancient Roman villa.
A Google spokesperson said:
“The lines reflect the path of the boat as it gathers the data. The fact there are blank spots between each of these lines is a sign of how little we really know about the world's oceans. Bathymetric (or sea floor terrain) data is often collected from boats using sonar to take measurements of the sea floor.”
Bamford had been using the latest version of Google Earth’s mapping system, Google Earth 5.0, which traces the ocean floor and surface data from marine experts. The Sun, a London tabloid, published screenshots from Google Earth showing what resembles a city street grid on the ocean floor west of Morocco, in an area known as the Madeira Abyssal plane. According to this source, the site in question lies at the coordinates 31°15'15.53" N, 24°15'30.53" W.
Google, in response to The Sun’s article, said that the area mentioned by the tabloid reflects a mixture of bathymetric data gleaned from both sonar and satellite altimetry, which provides an estimate of the topography of the ocean floor based on wave height. The intersection of these two data sets, which don't align perfectly, is what produces the appearance of a street grid. Similar grid lines can be found in other parts of the ocean as well, particularly in parts where the sea floor has yet to be completely mapped, such as near Hawaii.
Google Earth and Google Maps despite being unable to find Atlantis, by their very existence reflect the burgeoning importance of geo-spatial applications and their scientific, cultural, social and security ramifications. The satellite imagery made possible by tools like Google Earth, have discovered new species, hidden marijuana fields, a suspected shipwreck site, and an old Roman villa. Geo-applications may also be important in locating Chinese submarines, protecting human rights and the environment.
For those who are tech-savvy, Google Earth can be a gold mine although all would do well to remember that fool’s gold lurks nearby. Still, aerial satellite photos of terrain and buildings can and do lead to some very interesting discoveries. Consider the German Google Earth user known as KenGrok who made headlines several years ago when he discovered a satellite photograph of a Chinese military base that greatly and understandably embarrassed China.
In the words of one Google attorney:
“Today's satellite-image technology means that even in the desert, complete privacy does not exist.”
What a find it would have been to locate the legendary lost metropolis so seeped in mythology and fable that its truth may never be known! Plato had described a land of fabulous wealth and natural beauty called Atlantis sinking into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune"(struck by a violent earthquake and flood) more than 2,000 years ago, around 9000 BC, after the city had failed in its attempt to invade Athens.
Debates rage to this day over where it might have been if it ever existed at all. There are as many who claim it is near Cuba, as there are who say it is off the coast of Cornwall, near Gibraltor or in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. No remains have ever been found, but the story of this ancient metropolis has captured the imagination of scholars since time immemorial.
In Plato’s Dialogues, Timaeus And Critias, he describes Atlantis, which translates into the daughter of Atlas, in this manner:
"This great island lay over against the Pillars of Heracles, in extent greater than Libya and Asia put together, and was the passage to other islands and to a great ocean of which the Mediterranean sea was only the harbor; and within the Pillars the empire of Atlantis reached in Europe to Tyrrhenia and in Libya to Egypt."
Google Earth is but one manifestation of Google’s original mission to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible. The search engine opus has come a long way since its humble beginnings in a Stanford University dorm room. The term, google is mathematical in origin and refers to a number 1 followed by 1000 zeros. Coined by Milton Sirotta, nephew of American mathematician, Edward Kasner, the word was popularized in the book, Mathematics and Imagination, which was written by Kasner and James Newman. Google’s founders, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin, have developed a new approach to online searching that is in tandem with their ultimate mission.
Considered the world’s largest search engine, any kind of information under the sun is freely available in many different languages. Users can search billions of images and read the world’s largest archive of Usenet messages, some of which date back to 1981 and total more than one billion! Google generates revenue by providing advertisers with cost-effective online advertising that relates to the information displayed on the page. The Google Toolbar is quite sophisticated and enables the user to conduct a Google search from anywhere on the web, and when away from the computer, from a number of wireless platforms including WAP and i-mode phones.
We are all impressed with Google Earth and with how far Google has come, but one question still lingers in the geo-spatial air
So how come Google Earth can’t find Atlantis?
Maybe they should try just a little bit harder?
(Come on, guys. Plato is watching and waiting.)
M Dee Dubroff
Fashion and Technology Blogger