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Google Doodle celebrates physicist Joseph Plateau, whose invention led to cinema

In 1832, Plateau invented the phénakistiscope, which created the illusion of a moving image.

The Google Doodle honoring Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau on Monday is the first with different artwork across different Google surfaces.

Google on Monday is celebrating the 218th birthday of Belgian physicist Joseph Antoine Plateau with a Doodle that highlights his invention, the phénakistiscope, which created the illusion of a moving image and paved the way for the motion picture and film industry.

Born in Brussels in 1802, Plateau was inspired to invent the device by his research on visual perception. He first studied law and became one of the best-known scientists of the 19th century, remembered for his work on physiological optics, the effect of light and color on the human retina in particular, Google said.

Plateau's doctoral dissertation detailed how images form on the retina, noting their exact duration, color and intensity, Google said. From those conclusions, he made his 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 turned at the right speed, the images seemed to merge, creating the illusion of a dancer in motion, Google said.

And much like modern-day GIF animation, the phénakistiscope could only show a short continuous loop.

The Doodle art was made by animator and filmmaker Olivia Huynh to reflect Plateau's style. It's the first Doodle to feature different artwork for different device platforms (desktop, mobile and the Google app), Google said.

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