Black hole Google Doodle was conceived during artist's morning commute

The Doodler sketched out the concept for the Doodle that marks the scientific milestone while on the way to work.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
Expertise I have more than 30 years' experience in journalism in the heart of the Silicon Valley.
Steven Musil
2 min read

The animated Google Doodle highlighting the first image of a black hole was created in just a few hours.


Google usually has weeks or months to plan its Doodles, but sometimes scientific discoveries dictate a tighter schedule for the artists behind the familiar variations of Google's logo.

As the scientific and tech communities marveled Wednesday at the first direct image of a black hole, Google jumped into action to mark the milestone. Reflecting the extraordinary gravitational pull of the black hole, Google's animated Doodle featured the image of the black hole at the center of the Doodle, sucking the other letters into its abyss before swallowing the photo too.

The image of the black hole, which has been likened to an out-of-focus campfire, was revealed earlier Wednesday by scientists from the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration. Seeing the exact shape of a black hole for the first time is a big deal for science, possibly confirming or disproving the theory of gravitation proposed by Albert Einstein over a century ago that is fundamental to our understanding of the universe and the laws of physics that govern our daily lives.

Watch this: How black holes swallow light, warp space-time and blow your mind

The power of such a discovery didn't escape the attention of Doodler artist Nate Swinehart, who drafted the concept for the Doodle in his car while driving to work Wednesday morning. By 2 p.m. PT, his creation was already gracing Google's home page.

"These achievements are incredible, inspiring and often mind-boggling," Swinehart said. "It's a huge opportunity as an artist to take the homepage space and make something small and charming that piques people's interest in the discovery."

Swinehart is the artist behind Google's other "live" cosmic Doodles, which are Doodles created in less than a day. He also created the Doodles for the discovery of seven Earth-like planets in a single star system in 2017 and the discovery of evidence of water on the moon in 2009.

Below is a copy of Swinehart's sketch of how he envisioned the Doodle:


How the Doodle began.

Nate Swinehart/Google