Last week, a British man announced he'd found the lost city of Atlantis using Google Ocean -- the latest add-on to Google Earth that features 3D bathymetry, which lets you explore the ocean floor. The supposed â€˜Atlantis' image is about 620 miles off the northwestern coast of Africa and south of Portugal. 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. According to The Telegraph, the newspaper that first reported the "discovery," the pattern is roughly the size of Wales (around 8,000 sq. mi.).
Friday's find sparked intense interest online despite the farfetched claim. Many scratched their heads wondering, what if? After all, this underwater discovery seemed to match the location Plato had described in his writings. Plato said Atlantis was a massive island that was "larger than Libya and Asia together," and located at a "distant point in the Atlantic Ocean...in front of the mouth of the pillars of Hercules" (the Straits of Gibraltar).
Google Quashes Atlantis Buzz
Alas, the Atlantis discovery was not meant to be. Google quashed the idea a day later in a statement, "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."
Google Earth has been responsible for several amazing discoveries in the past as the company pointed out: "It's true that many amazing discoveries have been made in Google Earth -- a pristine forest in Mozambique that is home to previously unknown species, a fringing coral reef off the coast of Australia, and the remains of an Ancient Roman villa, to name just a few." Unfortunately, Atlantis will not be added to this list.
Despite Google's denial, some conspiracy theorists reject the company's explanation and say the search giant might be participating in a cover-up. Now, c'mon, folks -- the boat-with-sonar explanation is just as plausible as the Atlantis theory. Not to mention the fact that Plato was describing a city that perished 9000 years before his birth, so who knows if it was ever real in the first place!
In other news, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and Google CEO Eric Schmidt embarked on an impromptu fact-finding mission to Portugal and Morocco this week. Just kidding!
Wondering what else might be "out there" on Google Earth? Check out PCWorld's "Getting Your Feet Wet With Google Ocean: First Look in Images" or "Strangest Sights in Google Earth."