Google is today celebrating the birth anniversary of British chemist Sir William Henry Perkin, who accidentally discovered the first synthetic dye. Perkin was born on March 12, 1838 in Shadwell, London, United Kingdom, and today’s Google doodle shows the significance of his discovery.
Perkin discovered Mauveine, the first synthetic dye at the age of 18. While cleaning out the dark muck from a beaker after a failed experiment, the 18-year-old laboratory assistant noticed that the substance left a vivid purple stain when diluted with alcohol. Perkin was trying to synthesize quinine for the treatment of malaria, but ended up becoming successful in the field of dyes after the discovery of purple mauveine. After the discovery, he focused on patenting, manufacturing, and the commercialization of this purple dye.
The discovery of mauveine came at the time when textile industry was at a high. Since purple clothing was in style, expensive for most, and quick to fade, the commercialization turned Perkin into an early enterpreneur. “Perkin’s strong and inexpensively produced mauveine finally made this once-exclusive color readily accessible, igniting a violet fashion frenzy – as seen in today’s Doodle by UK-based illustrator Sonny Ross,” Google describes in its blog post.
At the Royal Exhibition of 1862, Queen Victoria herself wore a mauveine-dyed gown. Perkin, after becoming wealthy and successful from his venture, eventually returned to laboratory research. He received knighthood on the 50th anniversary of his serendipitous discovery. Today marks the 180th birthday of Sir Willian Henry Perkin and apart from mauveine, he is also known for aniline dye and Perkin triangle.
Perkin has also been awarded with Davy Medal, Albert Medal, and Perkin Medal. He died at the age of 69 due to pneumonia and other complications resulting from a burst appendix.
Google is also marking the Independence of Mauritius with a doodle today. The doodle is not visible on the homepage of Google in all parts of the world, but the country was founded on March 12, 1968. The island nation is primarily known for its beaches, lagoons and reefs.