Today’s Doodle celebrates the Belgian physicist Joseph
Antoine Ferdinand Plateau, whose research on visual perception inspired him to
invent a device he called the phénakistiscope, which led to the birth of cinema
by creating the illusion of a moving image. Inspired by the mesmerizing
animated discs, the animated Doodle art was made to reflect Plateau’s style,
with different imagery and themes in them on different device platforms.
Today’s Google Doodle
Born in Brussels on this day in 1801,
Plateau was the son of an accomplished artist who specialized in painting
flowers. After studying law, young Plateau became one of the best-known Belgian
scientists of the nineteenth century, remembered for his study of physiological
optics, particularly the effect of light and color on the human retina.
Google doodle on Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau
Plateau’s doctoral dissertation detailed how images form on
the retina, noting their exact duration, color, and intensity. Based on these
conclusions, he was able to create a stroboscopic device in 1832,
fitted with two discs that rotated in opposite directions. One disc was filled
with small windows, evenly spaced in a circle, while the other had a series of
pictures of a dancer. When both discs turned at exactly the right speed, the
images seemed to merge, creating the illusion of a dancer in motion.
This day in history,
Though Plateau lost his vision later in life, he continued
to have a productive career in science even after becoming blind, working as a
professor of experimental physics at Ghent University with the help of
colleagues that included his son Felix Plateau and his son-in-law Gustaaf Van
Happy Birthday, Joseph Plateau!
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