So Google has finally come out with a formal denial
that the Lost City of Atlantis can be seen in Ocean in Google Earth
. It's not Atlantis or seafarming by aliens, NOAA's Walter Smith and UC San Diego's David Sandwell, say. In fact the weird criss-crossing marks are "ship tracks," echosounding measurements made by ships, they say.
By measuring the time it takes for sound to travel from a ship to the sea floor and back, you can get an idea of how far away the sea floor is. Since this process — known as echosounding — only maps a strip of the sea floor under the ship, the maps it produces often show the path the ship took, hence the "ship tracks." In this case, the soundings produced by a ship are also about 1% deeper than the data we have in surrounding areas — likely an error — making the tracks stand out more.
OK, but could we find Atlantis on the off chance it actually exists? Yes, but it would be expensive -- about $2 billion. Hmm, compared to various bailouts that doesn't sound like that much money after all. But it would be hard to justify that expense when Republicans are mocking volcano tracking.