Today’s doodle in the U.S., and probably Mexico, features the Day of the Dead (click screenshot below), but I find the one in Ireland, sent by reader Grania, much more interesting, as it’s science-related.
First, Dia de Muertos (yesterday and today), which I was lucky to see first-hand a few years ago in Mexico City:
But in Ireland, the Google page gives an animated graphic, which is a gif I’ve embedded below. First have a look at it, and figure out a. what’s going on here, and b. whom it’s celebrating:
That’s right, it’s showing Boolean logic: in the second “g”, when the x or y or neither or both light up, the corresponding letter or letters also light up.
And that means it’s celebrating the life of George Boole (1815-1864; today’s his 200th birthday), mathematician, polymath, and creator of Boolean algebra and Boolean logic, the binary decision system that’s become the basis for all computers (see here). Grania informed me that Boole was the first professor of mathematics at University College Cork (then known as Queen’s College) in Ireland, in the town where she lives. Boole died at only 49; Wikipedia tells the tale:
In 1864, Boole walked two miles in the drenching rain and lectured wearing his wet clothes. He soon became ill, developing a severe cold and high fever. As his wife believed that remedies should resemble their cause, she put her husband to bed and poured buckets of water over him – the wet having brought on his illness. Boole’s condition worsened and on 8 December 1864, he died of fever-induced pleural effusion.
In honor of Boole’s bicentennial, University College Cork has set up a George Boole 200 Page, where you can find information about his life and about walking tours, videos, and information about celebratory events. Here’s a short video showing the contributions he made to modern life:
Boole (I’m glad I live in an era when academics don’t have to wear coats and ties!):