Google Doodle celebrates birthday of Plateau, whose research led to the birth of cinema

Google Doodle is celebrating the birthday of Belgian physicist Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau today. Plateau is known for inventing a device called the phénakistiscope after his research on visual perception. The device effectively led to led to the birth of cinema by creating the illusion of a moving image. The animated Doodle art today, which includes an animated disc, reflects Plateau’s style. Google explains his style included different imagery and themes in them and worked across different device platforms.

Google Doodle celebrates Plateau’s birthday

Plateau was born in Brussels on this day in 1801 and he was the son of an accomplished artist who specialized in painting flowers. Despite studying law, Plateau became one of the best-known Belgian scientists of the nineteenth century. He is remembered for his study of physiological optics, particularly the effect of light and color on the human retina. His doctoral dissertation detailed how images form on the retina and noted their exact duration, color, and intensity.

On the basis of these conclusions, Plateau was able to create a stroboscopic device in 1832. The device was fitted with two discs that rotated in opposite directions. One of the disc was filled with small windows, evenly spaced in a circle. The other disc had a series of pictures of a dancer. When both discs turned at exactly the right speed, the images seemed to emerge and created the illusion of a dancer in motion. Despite his instrumental work that led to cinema industry, Plateau lost his vision later in his life.

Even after he lost his vision, Plateau continued to have a productive career in science. He worked as a professor of experimental physics at Ghent University with the help of his colleagues including his son Felix Plateau and son-in-law Gustaaf Van der Mensbrugghe. The Doodle today was created by animator, filmmaker, and Doodler Olivia Huynh with help from Diana Tran and Tom Tabanao.

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