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Alexander Calder is the man behind the mobile in HTML5 Google doodle

Today's Google doodle shows off a very cool HTML5 feature, with a moving interactive mobile celebrating the birth of Alexander Calder, the man behind the mobile.

Today's Google doodle shows off a very cool HTML5 feature, with a moving interactive mobile celebrating the birth of Alexander Calder, the man behind the mobile.

This is the first Google doodle built entirely from the HTML5 canvas element, which creates moving images. According to Google, it "runs a physics simulation on the mobile's geometry, and then does realtime 3D rendering with vector graphics". Google has used the logo on its homepage to show off the possibilities of HTML5 before, with its fun flying balls.

What that means is that you can click on the different bits of the mobile and set it moving, drifting lazily on your screen just like a real mobile. The coolest detail is that it has a shadow, which moves too.

You'll need a fairly up to date browser to see the mobile, so if you can't see it then update to the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox or whichever browser you favour. The doodle can also react to your movement, so if you're reading this on a laptop with an accelerometer (anyone? no?), pick it up and give it a shake. It doesn't work on an iPad though, sadly. That would have been really cool. 

Google software engineer Jered Wierzbicki was inspired to create the doodle by an exhibition of Calder's work in Chicago. He coded a virtual version of a mobile and showed it to colleagues, and other engineers and artists helped put together the doodle we see today.

Alexander Calder, born in 1898, was an American sculptor. He started out as an engineer and toymaker, before developing kinetic sculptures: sculptures featuring bits hanging from wire that could move and be interacted with. Fellow artist Marcel Duchamp -- the urinal guy -- dubbed them 'mobiles' in 1931, and they have entranced babies ever since. Following his death in 1976, Calder was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honour in the US.

Mobiles are so simple and timeless we're surprised they're such a recent invention. There you go -- not only has today's Google doodle showed off the possibilities of HTML5, we've also learnt something.