Today Google’s homepage sports a mesmerizing animated GIF of rolling waves, dolled up in Google’s colors, in celebration of the 155th birthday of Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the German physicist who proved the existence of electromagnetic waves.
Even if you aren’t fascinated by physics, Hertz’s discovery was a vital one, and led to many others that make up the bleeping circuits of our everyday lives. This includes the TV broadcasts that lull you to sleep, the radio waves that wake you in the morning — including the oscillating pressure that defines musical pitch; good vibrations, if you will — the cellular transmissions keeping you pegged to your iPhone, the measurement units of smartphone processors that keep the Apple vs. Android argument alive, and the Wi-Fi frequencies you’re connected to to read this article.
Thirty-six years after Hertz’s death, at age 36, the International Electrotechnical Commission named the SI unit of frequency measurement after Hertz — you’ll recognize it in specs rundowns, like the Kindle Fire’s dual-core 1GHz processor — denoting the number of times a repeated event occurs per second.
It’s interesting, too, that though Hertz basically made sense of an invisible entities, he reportedly told a student that his discovery was “of no use whatsoever.”
The Christian Science Monitor’s Chris Gaylord pointed out a neat graphical symmetry I missed on first glance: the waves actually spell out the contours of Google’s logo. “There’s a large blue curve, followed by a shallow red, shallow yellow, deep blue, skinny green, and one final yellow curve. Those lines match the general shape of Google’s traditional logo: Uppercase blue G, small Os, a lowercase g, a skinny green L, and a red e.”
Google’s .GIF Doodle comes a week after its heartwarming — and subtly political — animated video for Valentine’s Day, proving again that Google can nerd out with the best of them and still stay general enough for a more universal audience.