Google’s latest doodle is dedicated to French physicist Léon Foucault, who is known for his invention of the Foucault pendulum, which was used to demonstrate the effect of earth’s rotation. The animated doodle marking his 194th birthday shows a moving pendulum with buttons to alter the pendulum’s trajectory. Different combinations make the pendulum knock down pins placed at different positions.
Foucault was born on September 18, 1819 in Paris and initially studied medicine, but quit after developing a fear of blood. He shifted his field of study to physics and researched on topics like intensity of the light of the sun, compared to that of carbon in an arc lamp, and of lime in the flame of the oxyhydrogen blowpipe, among others.
In 1851, Foucault gave his first demonstration on the rotation of the Earth on its axis with the help of a long and heavy pendulum suspended from the roof of the Pantheon in Paris. This pendulum would be known as the Foucalt Pendulum, and for years would help scientists get a better understanding of the earth’s rotation.
His contributions to the field of science earned him a Copley Medal of the Royal Society in 1855. He also became a member of a member of the Bureau des Longitudes and an officer of the Legion d’Honneur, was inducted into the Royal Society of London in 1864 and is one of 72 persons whose name is inscribed on the Eiffel Tower. An asteroid— 5668 Foucault— too has been named after him.
Foucault died on February 11, 1868 in Paris suffering from multiple sclerosis and was buried in the Cimetiere de Montmartre.