"Turtle" was the name of the first submarine design, essentially a small round tank with assorted bits sticking out all over. It was a single person craft which was powered by a hand crank in front of the operator. "Turtle" also had a vertical screw to assist in depth control. Depth was regulated by letting water in to a ballast tank beneath the operator. To surface the water was pumped out with a hand pump.

The sub's only weapon was a drill. The idea was to sneak under a ship and drill a hole in the hull, letting in the sea. No attempt was sucessful and the idea was abandoned for many years. Even if "Turtle" had managed to drill a hole in the bottom of a ship, the flooding would have been so slow and the hole so small that the crew would have easily repaired the damage and pumped out the bilge.

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In the LOGO educational programming language, the Turtle was your cursor. You were supposed to imagine a turtle with a pen in its stomach that would follow LOGO commands on your behalf, drawing pictures with its pen. Some implementations helpfully drew a picture of a turtle to help you imagine.

In Terry Pratchett's Discworld universe, the turtle is what holds the four elephants, which in turn hold the Discworld. The turtle is also the form of the god Om when it is... uh... small, in the book "Small Gods".

A staple breakdancing move: you should be face-down, with your elbows against your stomach, body held up by your forearms, balanced on your hands. This is the basic position - you'll look kind of like a turtle with your back hunched over like a shell, hence the name. From here, you can use your hands to:
  • Walk forwards, backwards or sideways
  • Rotate as fast as you possibly can
  • Hop up and down
Balance is the key to perfecting the turtle. I used to be really good at it, but nowadays my centre of gravity has changed, and I can't hack it anymore.
The most impressive turtle I ever saw was when some guy hopped around clockwise on one hand, holding his cap out for tributes with his other hand. Tributes he must desperately need today to pay for wrist surgery.

Regarding the LOGO usage of "turtle": There actually have been real robot turtles that draw pictures according to computer instructions. I think MikroBitti once had a picture of one pretty specimen; It looked like a real, if rather stylized, turtle, and best of all, it was wireless - the computer controlled it over infrared link (the "shell" of the turtle was made of transparent green plastic, with the IR sensor and all electronics inside it).

In August 1972, during one ICCC demonstration, Jon Postel was puzzled by such turtle - it had went crazy, jumped around and twitched. (Postel had printed a file to wrong printer port, instead of sending it to printer it had gone to turtle port...) a true ninja turtle...

(the latter story, along with what else happened in the demo, can be found in book Where Wizards Stay Up Late, by Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon.)

Speaking of the book Small Gods, Om, as a tortoise, also draws pictures to sand with His tail according to instructions of people. The book also refers to these LOGO turtles...

dont you wish

dont you wish you could be a turtle fifty years old the algae so thick and heavy on your back that when you lumbered your massive hulk out of the marshy wetlands young children would cry and brave young men would run thinking the very earth itself was coming to life?

Tur"tle (?), n. [AS. turtle, L. turtur; probably of imitative origin. Cf. Turtle the sea tortoise.] Zool.

The turtledove.


© Webster 1913.

Tur"tle, n. [Probably the same word as the word preceding, and substituted (probably by sailors) for the Spanish or Portuguese name; cf. Sp. tortuga tortoise, turtle, Pg. tartaruga, also F. tortue, and E. tortoise.]

1. Zool.

Any one of the numerous species of Testudinata, especially a sea turtle, or chelonian.

⇒ In the United States the land and fresh-water tortoises are also called turtles.

2. Printing

The curved plate in which the form is held in a type-revolving cylinder press.

Alligator turtle, Box turtle, etc. See under Alligator, Box, etc. -- green turtle Zool., a marine turtle of the genus Chelonia, having usually a smooth greenish or olive-colored shell. It is highly valued for the delicacy of its flesh, which is used especially for turtle soup. Two distinct species or varieties are known; one of which (Chelonia Midas) inhabits the warm part of the Atlantic Ocean, and sometimes weighs eight hundred pounds or more; the other (C. virgata) inhabits the Pacific Ocean. Both species are similar in habits and feed principally on seaweed and other marine plants, especially the turtle grass. -- Turtle cowrie Zool., a large, handsome cowrie (Cypraea testudinaria); the turtle-shell; so called because of its fancied resemblance to a tortoise in color and form. -- Turtle grass Bot., a marine plant (Thalassia testudinum) with grasslike leaves, common about the West Indies. -- Turtle shell, tortoise shell. See under Tortoise.


© Webster 1913.

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