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Google Doodle marks 218th anniversary of phénakistiscope inventor Joseph Plateau

Google Doodle celebrates Joseph Plateau


Google doodle celebrates the 218th anniversary of Belgian physicist Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau with a quirky animation. Plateau invented the phénakistiscope which created the illusion of a moving image. This invention paved the way for motion pictures to come into play.

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This stroboscopic device consisted of two disks, one with small equidistant radial windows, through which the viewer could look, and another containing a sequence of images. When the two disks rotated at the correct speed, the synchronization of the windows and the images created an animated effect. The projection of stroboscopic photographs, creating the illusion of motion. The earliest moving image viewed through this device  was that of dancer in motion.

Born in Brussels in 1801, Joseph Plateau was fascinated by the idea of light recreating image on the retina. He was so absorbed by his fascination on the subject that he performed an experiment on himself where he looked directly into the sun for 25 seconds without blinking. Plateau attributes his loss of eyesight, later in life, to this experiment.

Even after he lost his vision, Plateau went on to have a productive career in science. He worked as a Professor of experimental physics at Ghent University.

The Google Doodle was created by animator and filmmaker Olivia Huynh in reflection of Plateau’s style. It features different artwork for different device platforms, Google said.

The Google Doodle page also contains early animation tests for the doodle and an interview with the creator. “I enjoy Plateau’s broad range of interests. I think it’s a good message to show that you can be interested in lots of things, like science, math, art, invention, craft, and that they can overlap,” says Huynh.

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