The final space shuttle mission has blasted off, launching the fascinating word mystery of “Atlantis” into our consciousness: How did the name of a mythical kingdom thousands of leagues under the sea become the moniker for a vehicle soaring thousands of miles into space?
In two of Plato’s dialogues, Timaeus and Critias – both penned around 360 B.C., the Greek philosopher recites the tale of a lost civilization located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean named Atlantis. Derived from the Greek Ἀτλαντὶς νῆσος meaning “island of Atlas,” and regarded as the domain of Poseidon, the god of sea, Atlantis was supposedly a mighty maritime force that lay “in front of the Pillars of Hercules” and vanquished parts of Western Europe and Africa. According to Plato’s account, Atlantis eventually sank to the bottom of the sea “in a single day and night of misfortune.”
Possibly drawing upon Plato’s dialogues, in 1941 DC Comics debuted Aquaman – a superhero hailing from the lost city of Atlantis, possessing superhuman abilities to breathe underwater, communicate with sea life, and swim with great vigor. Perhaps tired from overseeing seventy percent of the earth’s surface, the original Aquaman retired from superherodom in 1985. Coincidentally the space shuttle Atlantis made its maiden voyage that same year.
Superheroes and lost cities aside, the space shuttle Atlantis was actually named after the RV Atlantis – a research vessel used from 1930 to 1966 by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to study marine life and the ocean floor. All of the shuttles have been named after historically important maritime research vessels. The two-masted sailing ship was named in honor of – you guessed it, the” lost city” of Atlantis.
Conspiracy theorists with a penchant for all things aquatic and mythical continue to search for the actual location of Atlantis. In fact, a British aeronautical engineer fiddling with Google Earth claims to have discovered the exact location some 600 miles west of the Canary Islands.
The meaning and origin of names is often lost with time. Are there any names of things or persons that you would like us to explore? Let us know, below.
Hmm..interesting… thanx for sharing!!
It’s really interesting to think that space is roughly the equivalent of the ocean. It really emphasizes the idea that earth is just a small microscopic speck in an ocean of galaxies.
Atlantis is just a myth..a fantacy for those who cannot get over with reality
Actually, it is not so strange that there should be conceptual links between “space” travel and aquatic or oceanic terminology. Aviation has borrowed a number of nomenclatures or concepts from aquatic navigation in trying to describe its actions and maneuvers. Since both endeavors involve movement through fluids or ethers, and operate in circumstances where markers, (“landmarks”, by analogy) are themselves fluid and not static, it is understandable that “flying” words should borrow from “sailing” ones. To wit: “astronaut”, or for that matter, the interchangeable use of the word “navigation.”
Everything we do comes from a past a dream,a fantacy.If not where would we be today…..All things come to from the dreamer,
Atlantis is as much a fantasy as Troy, which people likewise discarded as invention until its ruins were discovered. However, again like Troy, though the kingdom existed, the epics in which it stars are full of hyperbole and exaggeration – That’s what epics *are*.
In point of fact, there is a good bit of evidence that recently discovered ruins on the Southern coast of the Iberian peninsula (right where Plato said it should be) may correspond to the city of Atlantis.
BTW, the formation off the coast of the Canary Islands on Google Earth (a series of orthogonal lines) was later determined to be artifacts in the image caused by the way the satellite footage was stitched together. Google Earth is made of lots of rectangular images, so any errors in otherwise uniform areas tend to appear as rectangles and orthogonal lines.
fantasy… learn to spell, shawn
Why is there no down-vote option here? Ney is a complete jerk for treating fantasy as though it were contemptible…without it, there would be no non-fiction books. No 1984, no Lord of the Rings, no Frankenstein…screw that.
Wow. You guys are awesome! You actually look at stuff that other average people wouldn’t care about. Cool!
Try finding out why we have the past perfect tense and such
Okay, all you fantasy story scoffers… here is another for you to scoff at. There is also an idea floating around out there, (pun intended) that the city of Enoch, also known as the city of Zion, was taken up from the Earth by God, with all the righteous people of the Earth living in that city, as the world was prepared for the great flood of Noah. Noah was a descendant of Enoch through Methuselah who stayed behind so that the world’s post deluvian descendants would be Enoch’s posterity through Noah, after the flood. The City of Enoch may have been located where the gulf of Mexico is located today. The story goes that the City was taken up into the Heavens, and will some day return to it’s original location before the end of the World. You can find a description of what that city looks like in the Christian Bible, in the last book called Revelations. It could very well be that the story of the mythological city of Atlantis was a break off over time of the translated city of Enoch. Perhaps the idea that it went up into the heavens became too much to believe, so the idea that it really sank into the Atlantic Ocean is much easier to fathom. As you look at the Caribbean, you can see a long trail of islands in almost a straight line in a south east direction, which could have been large chunks of land that fell from the bottom of the City of Enoch as it left the Earth. Interestingly, there are no islands in the gulf of Mexico except along the very edges. When reading the Norwegian tales of Thor and his great All Father Odin, who lived on a beautiful city that floated through the Heavens on a large piece of earth that in description could very well be a passed down story from the idea of the city of enoch… interesting things to think and talk about. As far as I am concerned, it does not matter if there is any possible little bits of shreds of truth in it or not. It makes for fun conjecture and story telling.
Everything links somewhere. Otherwise nothing would hold together for the brief time it does. Everything links by virtue of a common origin…I think. Maybe not.
Maybe the universe sprung into existence whole, five minutes ago -like Athena from Zeus’ Forehead- with us and our memory of the past, preassembled merely to provide context.
Ney- how would the myth of Atlantis help those who can’t “get over” with reality? And which version of reality do you imagine others see or don’t see? Is your reality similar to the reality of a Pygmy or an infant living in a cardboard slum on the outskirts of Sau Paulo?
Let me know how the myth helps. Maybe I’ll try it out.
Totally Astronautical man !
I take umbrage with the connotation of conspiracy theorists in the article. Before Frank Calvert found Troy and Heinrich Schliemann excavated it they thought The city of Troy was a myth. Just because you can’t find it does NOT mean it never existed. The “cutsie” reference shows a bias to an inquiring mind
It’s fun to think that so many stories we have, broadened over time, really are the result of something based in reality. People are discussing Troy, and after spending a good while studying many of the documents published about it, I think there is good evidence to say there was at least a city of Troy there, which existed in what the Greeks believed to be the Age of Heroes. Did Atlantis exist? Well, why couldn’t have a city been real that sparked the legends that exist now? What will people say about our great cities that vanish 3,000 years from now?
We in India have been, for long, wrestling with our own lost city conundrum. Dwaraka (or Dwarka as north Indians would spell it) is famously the capital of Lord Krishna’s kingdom. It’s location is believed to be somewhere under the Arabian Sea in the western Indian coastal state of Gujarat. Said to have been lapped up by the sea thousands of years ago. Any input from you?
They have known exactly where Atlantis is for years. The original Atlantis was a volcanic island in the Mediterranean that was destroyed when the volcano exploded catastrophically. The remains form the present day island of Santorini.
Atlantis/Santorini held a large city of the Minoan empire. Consequently the explosion was a serious calamity that cost many lives.
That the explosion gave rise to many myths is hardly surprising since it happened 3000 years before Plato and naturally there were no surviving eye witnesses. All they knew was that there was a large productive island. Then there was a massive thunderclap that went on for a long time. (This was before the discovery of explosives.) The resulting tsunami wrecked many boats and the fire plume and smoke made the area unapproachable for some time. When they could finally return, the large island had disappeared leaving the current circular archipelago of small sterile islands.
Dont believe this article, nothing online is true. I’m wearing a false beard to protect my identity online.
Excellent comments except for Ney. “Get over with reality” does not make sense.
Man thought the world was flat, until proven otherwise. Is it possible that there really was an Atlantis? Of course. To this day, we are discovering new plants & animals that we did not know existed before.
One theory doing the rounds at the moment is that Atlantis is the island of Thera (now Santorini) just north of Crete in the Mediterranean. Thera was a volcanic island that erupted in antiquity (supposedly around 1600 BC, although modern evidence suggests closer to 1360 BC) destroying the town of Akrotiri. It does seem to be the best fit for Plato’s Atlantis, although it is not beyond the Pillars of Hercules (i.e. out in the Atlantic)
Coincidentally, the eruption of Mount Thera produced an ash cloud that the prevailing winds carried over Egypt 800 km to the south-west, producing darkness, feiry hail running along the ground, plagues of boils and blains (skin rashes), the deaths of livestock etc. Ring any bells?
Here is the history of the Shuttle Atlantis name taken from a presentation given to the Shuttle Team during the week of it’s last launch (STS-135).
The Shuttle Atlantis was named after the primary research vessel for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts from 1930 to 1966. The two-masted, 460-ton ketch was the first U.S. vessel to be used for oceanographic research. Atlantis had a 17-member crew and room for five scientists working in two onboard laboratories. Such research was considered to be one of the last bastions of the sailing vessel as steam-and-diesel-powered vessels dominated the waterways. The ship examined water samples and marine life. Atlantis also used the first electronic sounding devices to map the ocean floor.
Come on… you guys know the geeks at NASA named this after the “Stargate: Atlantis” tv show… hahaha
I think dictionary.com is very usefull
please sent me some usefull terms.
i mean,some words,phrases,common usages in american or british usages like that.
@lezza nice metaphor
Marvel Comics character Namor the Sub-Mariner was prince and later king of Atlantis, and he debuted in 1939, before Aquaman.
To everyone here, Plato wasn’t writing a myth of a lost city. Atlantis originally was a political story on the follies of democratic Athens. (He was no fan of democracy) Atlantis is depicted as having elements of Athens; its ties to the sea was symbolic of Athens’ navy. The sinking of Atlantis was Plato’s dream: the destruction of the Athenian navy that was the start of democracy. Somewhere along history’s line, it was changed into part of Greek mythology, when in actuality, it had nothing to do with what they believed. It was just Plato writing political rhetoric.
Yeah!!! I agree with ” SomeoneUnimportant”!
But to answer the question at the end of this article; I would like to research… well… come to think about it, I’ve never really taken too much thought to it… oh, yes. i recall thinking about who invented scrabble. I researched it later on and found out it was invented by a man named Alfred Mosher Butts. and yes, i believe BUTTS was his real name. he and his ASSistant! please pardon my French.
Well, “DavidB”, if they’re “geeks” and the copied that show, why and or how do YOU might I ask know the show. I don’t. and I’m pretty sure no one else does. Plus its not very nice to call someone a “geek”. They would still probably be smarter than you.
Adam Wade, I got a chuckle out of your “…the idea that it really sank into the Atlantic Ocean is much easier to FATHOM.” Good one!
Everyone knows that Atlantis really existed, that it was north of Crete rather than in the Atlantic, and indeed that it was populated by a god-like civilisation that harnessed the awesome powers of the mysterious mineral orichalcum. Indiana Jones proved it in the legendary 1990s computer game… hang on, now I’m dating myself…
hey r u guys real archaeologists ?? If not-you really should be! You ROCK!
amazing comments…most of them.
Adam i totally agree with you…
missy- science has mostly extinguished fantasy rather than fuel them…
Maybe it was named after Atlantis for it is not that true and just a imagination of the originator. How true was atlantis do anybody know the reality? Is there a written documentations of its reality?
If Carlitos doesn’t start something here pretty soon, the comments section is going to get pretty boring.
Atlantis is in Georgia. Due to a clerical error, it’s now called Atlanta.
Isn’t this more of an oxymoron than a paradox? ‘Space shuttle Atlantis’. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s just how I see it.
Barataria is a name used in coastal Louisiana associated with piracy and nefarious maritime activity. The origin of the name is murky. Please look into it, I would love to see what you find.
@ney this is a dictionary page… it shouldn’t be very difficult to find the correct spelling for “fantasy”. See? Now whatever negative thing you were writing about makes no difference to anyone because all they see is the laughable grammatical error on a dictionary page. The irony. For future reference: Spell check.
Come on, guys! If you’re nerdy enough (like me) to be reading and commenting on an article on dictionary.com, you should at least know how to properly use English grammar! “It’s” is a contraction for “it is”; it is NOT possessive, as half the people here seem to think! I won’t point out any names (*cough* Adam Wade *cough* Balachandran *cough* *cough*…), but seriously:
It’s = it is (“It’s almost noon”)
Its = possessive form of “it” (“The table fell because one of its legs is broken”)
Oh, and by the way, Ameer, there’s only one L in useful.
“…a mythical kingdom thousands of leagues under the sea …”
A league is three nautical miles, or nearly three and a half miles. Even 2,000 league would put it almost through the earth and out the other side.
In the title of his novel, Verne meant that the Nautilus traveled 20,000 leagues or 60,000 nautical miles all over the earth while under the sea.
Barataria is a name used in coastal Louisiana associated with piracy and nefarious maritime activity. The origin of the name is murky. Please look into it, I would love to see what you find.
Fun article and an enjoyable discussion thread. Thanks everybody for entertaining this geek.
Oh, by the way; I love dictionary.com but I think standardized spelling is for unimaginitive people with no sense of adventure. A language that doesn’t evolve is a language that is in the process of dying. Think about it.
If you’re that nerdy, me8, you oughtn’t to be splitting infinitives.
Even if Atlantis is nothing more than a fable, the search for Atlantis has uncovered some very interesting and intriguing archeological sights. So the science enthusiast really should not denounce the myth, but encourage the search.
@Natalia: I don’t consider ‘Geek’ to be a derogatory title. Sure, it started out that way. But ever since the ‘geeks’ have obviously been growing up to run and revolutionize the world, I thought we had taken a different outlook on what it means to be a geek. Geek to me (and I thought to most folks) is a title denoting mastery of the nerdical arts and sciences. When your technology stops working, who do you call? A geek. A computer nerd! Bill Gates and his minions who program and build these contraptions that the rest of us poke at like a bunch of befuddled monkeys! I WISH I was a geek. I know a few and I foster those friendships.
A league is a measure of length, not depth. Great article though!
And a Cubit is variable without lengthy explanations. woof.
I love this site! It restores my faith in mankind. It proves that there is still some intelligent life on earth. I have been so disheartened by the mostly unintelligible gibberish found in the “comments” sections of most other posts. Thanks guys!
It is not such a bad article….. Though it’s like the War of Troy, total fantasy.
I think in part the concept of Atlantis was based on the communal memory of a pre-Flood earth. That was also memory of ‘paradise’ and was destroyed by water with few survivors.
Me8 may split all the infinitives s/he wants. The ‘rule’ against splitting infinitives is really just a myth created and fostered by early, close-minded English teachers. The ‘logic’ behind this so-called ‘rule’ originated from Latin. In Latin, there are no two-word infinitives like we have in English; their infinitives are solely one word. Therefore, it was impossible to split one. Some people apparently thought that a rule that applies to Latin should apply to English as well, although it’s not set in stone. People are free to split infinitives as often as they wish.
What I can never come to terms with is why nothing extraordinary, like an island sinking into a watery grave, never happens today while we are all alive to see it. It bothers me that all we have today are hyperbolic stories written hundreds of years ago. The tales of ‘epics’, forgotten lands and whimsical impossibilities such that an island can sink, never happen anymore, perhaps because they simply cannot.
Someone made reference to the city of Atlantis being mistaken for the city of Enoch, is this to say that God once had a more profound and tangible relationship with the world? Why won’t your God rip my city from its tectonic foundations and carry me off into the sky or plunge me deep into the Pacific ocean? I submit to you that these supernatural occurrences no longer take place because they never could. To postulate that a city existed is one thing (city of Troy) but to say a city sank is literally quite absurd, impossible and ridiculous.
Queen Sardonic, I do not know where you went to school but no school or University from which I graduated allows one to split infinitives. This is gross grammar, to say the least. But heck, most people do not know what an infinitive is, so you are ahead of most.
There are many references to Atlantis… Plato, for one and then there is an awesome building southwest of Miami, 28 to 30 miles, that tells the complete story. This compound was built by Ed Leedskalnin, who built it using knowledge he said he learned from the ancients. Go look at the Coral Castle (Coast to Coast) and look for the author, Joe Bullard, who did extensive research on telling this story. Ed moved blocks of coral weighing 32 tons or more, by himself, by floating the stabs of coral using Magnetism.
Scientist are working on this project, as I type, since it is of the utmost importance. Free electricity is a good thing but the US Govt is doing whatever it can to stop this research, just as they did when they discovered what Ed had built. Go research Coral Castle or better yet, go look at the Coral Castle, Homestead (?), Florida.
I have learn’t something really interesting on the shuttle names. Not having researched the origin of their names, i had no idea that they were named after sea faring vessels. Of course it now makes sense, but is appreciated anyway
Atlantis was the ancient Greek civilization of the Minoans, a civilization that flourished on the Greek islands about 500 years before the time of Plato. Part of that civilization was based on the island of Santorini which was destroyed by a huge volcano eruption and sank to the bottom of the sea. After that incident the Minoan civilization started declining. Plato must have heard the story which was orally spread like the story of Troy and turned it into a much bigger and glorified myth. Plato reports that before he met Socrates he wanted to be a DRAMA WRITER! It is similar to the story of Troy which indeed existed, the story was spread orally in ancient Greek culture and was written down as a beautiful glorified myth by Homer.
Ditto Dethanos. Sub-mariner can clean up the place with Aquaman. Matter of fact, my (insert Marvel original here) can beat up your (insert DC knock off here) any day of the week.
Long live the spirit of Atlantis and the shuttle fleet. Through them, America has (once again) changed the world. I am excited to see how the next chapter of space exploration unfolds.
Adam Wade, are you religious by chance? it is so funny how anything in the Bible is considered “believable” no matter how loony it would sound out of context. The story of a worldwide flood and a city rising up to the heavens? Perfectly reasonable. The world is round?!? Burn the heretic!!! But I digress, Fantacy (by the way, Ney isn’t the only one who did that, Shawn) is only defined by the boundaries of our limited scope of reality. For someone who has never been to school or picked up a globe, round Earth might be a fantasy. For someone who has been in space, space travel is a reality.
How many here would be tickled pink to learn that aliens built stonehenge, or Atlantis was even more technologically advanced than our current civilization?
if is a fable it existed the mind consive all the luxuries that we enjoy nowadays such as electricity the telephone and viciversa.please whom ever douted about the atlantis get in touch with pbs chanel thurteen i remember seen a show where there are the pillars and pieces of walls of what it was the greattes lost atlantis. than you very much.
oh very sorry.almost all big events blame on water water water.storms,floods,heavy rains,name it;the very life dependent.we have it we cry fool,if we loose it we will all perish for sure.and yet this element is humbly there responsible for our being.what a…the more we blame on it, abuse it, the harder it strikes back.have a break and think deeper(we human beings).
Apparently you can split an infinitive at the D.com editors office. However words like; really,very, totally, as infinitive splitters should be treated like dam*, and deleted as expletives: for the sake of educated readers comfort.
This semiliterate threaders opinion.
@No Queen Sardonic:
1. I appreciate your dedication to your cause of disagreeing with me; hence your name. (Yes, I was being a bit sardonic.)
2. Like I previously stated, some teachers are sticklers for the ‘no splitting infinitives’ rule, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rule applies all over. It’s grammatically acceptable to split an infinitive; it all comes down to personal preference.
I like your response.
Perhaps they claim that a city “sank”, because they had no real understanding of what was really happening or what really had happened.
This theory can explain much of religious accounts/texts. No one really knew what was going on, so how else could one explain it?
To wonder if Atlantis technology was more advanced than ours is an interesting thought. What is technology? What if they traveled the universe with thought or awareness instead of space vessels? What if they could communicate across vast distances because they all “thought” the same language and therefore were aware, simultaneously, of what everyone else was doing and thinking (on the same “wavelengths”)? What if they walked a different evolutionary path than we seem to be, foresaking our natural potential for the glitz, whirrs and lights of machinery and our devices that ultimately make us more dependant and more feeble?
I believe that technology should not be the measure of a civilization’s evolutionary status. Technology is a distraction to our natural potential, a diversion from the real challenge, which is to ultimately-tune our faculties and realize every degree of our potential.
Arthur C Clarke said, “technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic” – but what if there really is magic without technology. Who’s tricking who?
This was very informative!! Always a pleasure to read all the cool articles and most of all the put downs of fellow bloggers LOL!! Am I only one that gets a kick out of all the arrogant and condesending comments people leave to point out misspelling and improper grammar!!
I love how there are people out their who have dedicated their lives to finding a mythical place mentioned only twice in history by the same philosopher who’s debates were in allegory.
Most of what we “know” about Atlantis is from stories and comic books within the last century.
You misspelled condescending.
Was that an attempt at irony?
NASA has always named it projects/vessels after names of the occult which is strange if one accepts the good ol’ USA is a Christian country. One only needs to look into the Bible to see that the name of the antichrist is indeed APOLLO! Why on earth would these people name this massive project after Satans right hand man?!?! For those in the know Atlantis is in fact an allegory of the pre-flood times and represents the earths wicked state before the flood. Masonic symbolism is rife in NASA; one only need look at the mission patches of STS, Mercury and Apollo projects to be made aware of this. Who were the Titans of mythology? They were the pre-flood nephilim of Genesis 6. Now hold onto your hats….Jack Parsons, the head of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena was a member of the Process Church; a known satanic organization! Dont think for a moment that the naming of these craft is harmless…..who would call their child Satan, after all?