Foucault Pendulum: Google Doodle Honors Physicist's 194th Birthday

Wednesday, 18 Sep 2013 05:29 PM

By Ken Mandel

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The 194th birthday of Leon Foucault and his pendulum design were the topic of Wednesday's Google Doodle.

The latest re-imagining of Google's logo celebrates the physicist who designed a pendulum to show the Earth's rotation.

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Born in 1819, Foucault took the concept of a basic pendulum — which demonstrates how a weighted, hanging object moves side to side due to gravity and inertia — and brought that idea further by showing an object that occasionally changed the direction of its swing, displaying shifts similar to Earth.

Foucault first showed his new device in 1851. It was the "first satisfactory demonstration of the earth's rotation using laboratory apparatus, other than astronomical observations," according to the Smithsonian Institute's web site.

According to Google, doodles are the "fun, surprising, and sometimes spontaneous changes that are made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists."

The first official doodle appeared in 2000 to commemorate Bastille Day, and more than 1,000 doodles have since been created.

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