Google Doodle celebrates Belgian Physicist Joseph Plateau

WASHINGTON: In a doodle today, Google is celebrating Belgian physicist Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau, who would have been 218 years old on this day.

Plateau was born on 14 October 1801 in Brussels, and is known for his invention of phénakistiscope, a device which later led to the birth of cinema by creating the illusion of a moving image. The doodle art also reflects Plateau's style with an animated disc.

In the nineteenth century, Plateau was one of the best-known Belgian scientists, and he is remembered for his study of physiological optics, particularly the effect of light and color on the human retina. 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," Google writes in the blog.

Ironically, years later, Plateau lost his vision. However, he continued his career in science and started working as a professor of experimental physics at Ghent University.



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