Google Doodle honors Physicist Leon Foucault.

leon focault

Leon Foucault would have turned 194 years young yesterday, and Google’s latest doodle is an interactive version of Foucault’s pendulum, a device he devised to show the Earth’s Rotation.  Not only is the doodle an honor, it shows you how the Earth spins.

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Back in the 1800’s, it was widely known that earth rotated, and on an axis.  Scientists, however, struggled to find a way to actually demonstrate this idea.  Some dropped weight from balloons, some launched cannonballs straight up into the air, both hoping that the launch point and landing point would be different enough to measure.

Thankfully, no one was hurt in the name of science.

Foucault, in the meantime, came up with a surprisingly elegant method of showing the earth’s rotation: a pendulum.  It was hung over a thin layer of sand, and the bob would just graze the sand, producing a path.

The path is actually the earth’s movement, turning ever so slowly, and moving the sand under the path of the pendulum.

Google’s Doodle shows not only how the earth moves under the digital pendulum, but also how the speed of the pendulum is actually dependant on where the experiment it taking place.  The further from the equator the pendulum is placed, the faster it will move around the circle.  The closer to the equator, the less it appears to move, due to both the bob and the earth rotating at nearly the same plane.

You can mess with the time and location of the doodle, but it automatically detects where you are.  Check it out, play around!  Sound off below!  Best doodle ever?

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