Sunday, February 22, 2009

I Spy With My Little Eye...Atlantis

     So, apparently Google Earth has been finding things.  Did you hear about this, Company?  I just found out about this today.  I had always been a little jaded into thinking that just about everything that isn't covered with something has been found.  See, back in the days of yore some Portuguese guys floated around on some boats, and the English went tromping around hither and yon finding all the stuff there was to find on land.  You know, "Dr. Livingston, I presume" and all that jazz.  But I always knew in the back of my mind that those guys didn't find everything there was to find.  I sort of figured that once the Army had NASA throw all those spy and weather and GPS satellites up into orbit they found the rest of the stuff.  I mean, those things have camera on them.  But I guess not.  Apparently it took the good people at Google to find out where the rest of the world happens to be.  I don't know if they combined their search engine skills to a big set of photographs or what, but Google Earth, or at least some dateless 39-year-old divorcee in Cleveland goofing around with it on a Saturday night, was able to discover a bunch of stuff.  Let's take a look at what they discovered was out there.
     Apparently Google Earth discovered a pristine forest in Mozambique that is home to a previously undiscovered species of animal.  At first glance that sounds mildly impressive, but I don't believe the hype.  First of all, I would seriously doubt that no one knew the forest was there.  I am sure there were some people living around the edges who knew that it was there.  Like, if you walked up to their little farm hut and asked them what was on the other side of the field they would tell you it was a forest.  Now, just because they didn't go in there, or just because they didn't know how extensive the forest was doesn't mean they didn't know about it.  I might not be able to see through my neighbors privacy fence, and I might not go tromping around back there, but I certainly know that there is still shit back there.  I don't need Google Earth to inform me that the yard is back there.  Thank you, I was able to figure that out myself.  I am sure that the government of Mozambique knew that there was a bunch of forest up there within its borders.  They just maybe didn't know that it hadn't been touched.  As for the new species, that's cool, but it is also not as big of a deal as everyone seems to think it is.  Just about everywhere in the tropics where there is some forest or a swamp there is some sort of insect or small rodent that we haven't had a chance to swat at or cook up yet.  White guys from Ivy League schools tromping around the Amazon find that kind of stuff all the time.  And usually there is a National Geographic Channel camera floating around when they do it.
     Google Earth has apparently "discovered" an ancient Roman villa.  Okay, this is a crock.  Because we have VERY good records about what went on during Roman times.  In fact, we still use a lot of their infrastructure - roads, sewers, buildings, canals, etc. - today.  So how is this a discovery?  Would someone please tell me that?  It's a villa.  It's not a forest that has been there since time immortal.  Some rich guy shelled out some coins to build a place out of town to have crazy orgies.  Bottom line.  I would highly doubt that this Roman villa was a naturally occurring feature.  Some guy in sandals and a toga whipped a bunch of slaves until they stacked a bunch of blocks on top of each other in a particular order and slapped on a roof.  That's all there is to it.  It's not that we didn't know about it, we just forgot about it.  And those are totally different things.  I didn't discover an original Nintendo in my attic, I just forgot that I had stuck my broken one up there.  You can't discover things that were constructed by humans because that means someone had to have been there before you.  End of story.  Can you imagine the back taxes on that place though?   Wow.
     Well now, apparently some people had decided that Google Earth was able to find the biggest, fattest, most sought-after prize of them all: Atlantis.  Yeah, the fabled utopia that supposedly sank into the sea billions of days ago and now everyone is looking for.  I do not understand this, and I'll tell you why.  First of all, why are we looking for this?  It sank, it's not really of any use to us anymore.  "But Big Dave, there was a bunch of wealth and treasure that went down with it." Great, wonderful, fantastic.  Why cares?  Hundreds of thousands of ships have sank with all sorts of valuable things on board and we aren't trolling around looking for them, are we?  No.  But Atlantis is different.  The Russians were looking for it off Cornwall not too long ago.  Another group says it's "obviously" near Gibraltar.  Well then why are the Russians looking up by England?  It's because no one knows even remotely where it is.  All we know is that it's somewhere outside of the Mediterranean Sea.  Well that leaves a lot of ocean.  A lot of ocean that is criss-crossed by shipping lanes, telegraph cables, and all covered by satellites.  Oh, and in the eastern Atlantic, where most people seem to think it is, is VERY HEAVILY patrolled by submarines from all sorts of different nations.  So many that a British sub and a French sub managed to run into each other in early February.  So why is it that Google Earth would have been the one to find Atlantis?
     In the end what Google decided that people were seeing when they thought they were seeing Atlantis was a pattern produced by the regular SONAR searched used to measure the ocean floor.  I believe this.  Because SONAR can be a tricky devise, and when you add to it the fact that they are trying to work with it in water, which skews everything is ways that we don't fully understand, I can believe that it makes a visible signature pattern that we don't intend it to.  Plus, here's the deal people: if someone looking at Google Earth discovers something on the ocean floor, that means that a lot of other people dropped the ball on figuring out what was down there.  You mean to tell me the SONAR operators, or the computer scientists and graphic artists who developed those images into what you see on Google Earth didn't recognize the remains of a great civilization on the floor of the ocean?  Do you mean to tell me that some archaeologists, geologists, and oceanographers didn't get a crack at these images first?  Do you see what I mean?  I feel like I am taking crazy pills here, Company.  Because much like my checkbook ledger or my algebra homework from high school, none of this adds up.  Not even close.  There is no way that Jimmy Numbnuts in Pueblo finds Atlantis when generations of scientists couldn't.  Jacques Cousteau couldn't even find it, and he spent all of his time floating and swimming around.  So I agree with you on this one, Google.  The stuff that people are seeing is not Atlantis.  But I don't agree that you are finding stuff we never knew about before.  A forest? A villa?  No way, you just reminded us that they are there.  If you want to really impress me, make yourself useful and find me an island.  Now THAT would be cool.

No comments: