Laputa is an island
which floats above the North Pacific
, according to Gulliver's Travels
. The people are very learned
, and spend all their time in concentration
on mathematics, music, and astronomy
. They are so engrossed
that a servant called a climenole
attends them everywhere, with an instrument consisting of a bladder
full of dried peas on the end of a stick, so that they can tap their master's mouth or ears when conversation with another is required, or their eyes when they are about to step wrong.
The King of Laputa also ruled over the normal island of Balnibarbi in the sea below, of which the capital was Lagado. Communication with the mainland was effected with strings and pulleys. The island is exactly circular, 7837 yards in diameter, and 300 yards thick, based on a single perfectly smooth base of adamant. It is propelled by a giant magnet six yards by three yards, in the Flandona Gagnole or Astronomers Cave in the heart of the island. (For details of the physics see Gulliver's Travels.) The mineral in Balnibarbi on which the magnet operates is found nowhere else on earth, so the Floating Island of Laputa can not move far from it. The island can be used to crush rebellions below it, either by merely blocking out sun, or by aerial attack, or in the last resort by physical crushing.
The Laputans are superb theoretical scientists. For example, they discovered the two moons of Mars long before Asaph Hall did. But they are not very practical: houses and clothes designed by mathematical calculation are often very ill-made, because of unchecked errors in working. A smattering of the learning of the Laputans has been taken up to very bad effect by some of the people of Balnibarbi, especially in the foolish experiments of the Academy at Lagado (extracting sunbeams from cucumbers and so on).
Native Laputan etymologists conjectured the name was from Old Laputan lap 'high' and untuh 'governor', though this is debatable.