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Google dedicates Doodle to Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau, the inventor of phénakistiscope


New Delhi, Oct 14: Today's Google Doodle is dedicated to Belgian physicist Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau, whose invention phenakistiscope led to the birth of cinema. He was the first to demonstrate that if images of different stages of action are shown one after the other in a short span of time, then the human mind would perceive it as continuous motion or a moving picture (video as we know it today).

Google dedicates Doodle to Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau

Today would have been Antoine Ferdinand Plateau's 218th birthday. His invention, phénakistiscope, and the very concept that the illusion of movement can be created by repeatedly showing pictures of different stages of action were groundbreaking. The phénakistiscope led to the birth of cinema.

What is phenakistiscope?

If drawings of the stages of action were shown in fast succession, the human eye would perceive them as a continuous movement. One of the first commercially successful devices, invented by the Belgian Joseph Plateau in 1832, was the phenakistoscope, a spinning cardboard disk that created the illusion of movement when viewed in a mirror. (Credit - https://www.britannica.com).

It consisted of two disks, one with small equidistant radial windows, through which the viewer could look, and another containing a sequence of images. When the two disks rotated at the correct speed, the synchronization of the windows and the images created an animated effect. The projection of stroboscopic photographs, creating the illusion of motion, eventually led to the development of cinema.

Joseph Antoine Ferdinand Plateau' life:

Born in Brussels, he studied at the University of Liège (Liège), where he graduated as a doctor of physical and mathematical sciences in 1829. In 1827, he became a teacher of mathematics at the "Atheneum" school in Brussels. In 1835, he was appointed Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Ghent University. In 1872, he became foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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He was best known for his work of physiological optics, in particular, the effect of light and color on the human retina.

Plateau's doctoral dissertation explored how images form on the retina. Using this research, he was able to create a stroboscopic device in 1832 that created the illusion of a dancer in motion.

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