Today’s Google Doodle: Alessandro Volta

Alessandro Volta, born on this day in 1745, is credited as inventing the battery, and of course gave his name to the unit of electrical potential.  The Google doodle today, which lights up and flashes (click on screenshot below to see it) honors his 270th birthday.

Screen shot 2015-02-18 at 4.56.31 AM

Over at Google, the artist, Mark Holmes, explains how he researched and then made the doodle, rejecting several designs. But in a Guardian piece called “Alessandro Volta, a welcome but misleading Google doodle“, Charlotte Connelly carps that the doodle falsely implies that Volta invented the light bulb. (To be fair, she spends most of the piece recounting Volta’s story.) But Jebus, if you click on the doodle, which you should always do, it takes you to a whole pile of information on Volta. Don’t people want to know more than gawk at the lights?



  1. kevin7alexander
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    pile of information on Volta.

    I saw what you did there.

    • Posted February 18, 2015 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

      There’s much potential for punnery with the current topic.


  2. Heather Hastie
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    That Google doodle has finished in New Zealand as it’s Thursday 8.30am. You can look forward to a cute one of a sheep head-butting a tree to set off some fireworks for Chinese New Year. In case you hadn’t guessed, or didn’t already know, it’s the year of the sheep, which is apparently calm and peaceful. Let’s hope the superstition is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    • Barbara Radcliffe
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Love the Chinese new year doodle!

  3. Posted February 18, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I fail to see how it even suggests that he invented the light bulb. It shows a battery pile being assembled to power light but I don’t see the connection to the journalist’s carping. To some extent, it really doesn’t even suggest he invented the battery although since the animation shows something being assembled, there’s certainly an implication. Darn whiners.

  4. merilee
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 1:59 pm | Permalink


  5. Posted February 18, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    The animated gif (for however long it will be available):

  6. NewEnglandBob
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Permalink


  7. grasshopper
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, grew up at a time when the works of Volta and Luigi Galvani were still fresh enough scientific concepts that electricity (or as Catweazle was wont to call it, electrickery) was appropriated by the woo-meisters of the day, and called the Force Of Life. The image of Dr. Frankenstein in his castle laboratory throwing huge knife switches to channel lightning bolts from Ben Franklin’s lightning-rod to Frankenstein’s monster stitched together many of the current ideas about electricity and life. Rather than seeing her novel as a “Gothic Horror Story” it may be considered to be Sci-Fi.

    In a similar vein to the attempts of modern woo-meisters who incorporate quantum effects into their science-fantasy theories, the past has given to us many cliches that are incidicative of once cutting-edge ideas of science and life, such as “galvanized into action”, “animal magnetism”,”chemistry”. You might even call such cliches fossil evidence of extinct memes.

    Who knows how quantum-woo will be seen in the future, though I feel sure there will be spin doctors still trying to charm us into belief.

    • Posted February 18, 2015 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

      “may be considered to be Sci-Fi”

      Or even sf. (“Sci-fi” should be reserved for trashy adaptations of sf in other media.)

      Brian (W.) Aldiss makes the case for _Frankenstein_ as the seminal sf novel in _Billion Year Spree_ (later enlarged as _Trillion Year Spree_, with David Wingrove), but he still considers sf to be “ characteristically cast in the Gothic or post-Gothic mode”.


      • grasshopper
        Posted February 18, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

        I read Aldiss’s _Prometheus Unbound_ before _Frankenstein_ . I remember little of it as I have completed more and more circles about the Sun. But I retain a memory of it having moved me greatly.

        I also have read _Billion Year Spree_, but 45 years later I recall none of it, although perhaps my subconcious retained the sf gothic nexus.

      • Posted February 19, 2015 at 7:01 am | Permalink

        I think sf is mostly cast in the post WWII, crew-cut, “greatest generation” mold.

        Read the dialogue out loud to yourself some time. Right out of the he-man magazines of the ’40s and ’50s.

        I used to love sf as a teen and tween. Can’t stomach 99% of it now. Asimov still reads well; and I strongly recommend his autobiography, I Asimov.

        • Michael Waterhouse
          Posted February 19, 2015 at 7:21 am | Permalink

          How about Alister McClean or Ian Banks. Greg Egan?

  8. Posted February 18, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink


    but, sometimes i’m just a moth to the flame.

  9. EvolvedDutchie
    Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    Bats are birds. Da Holy Babble says so. (Leviticus 11:13-19).

    • EvolvedDutchie
      Posted February 18, 2015 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Wrong topic. My bad.

  10. Posted February 19, 2015 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Shows why a “battery” is called a “pile” in some languages.

  11. Posted February 19, 2015 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I’ve read biographies of Faraday and Maxwell. This makes me want to go back a generation or two further.

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