Doodle4Google is a yearly event that allows children from India to submit their own design of the famous Google logo, with the theme “India’s gift to the world”. Submissions are grouped into three categories, based on the class the children are currently enrolled into, and a winner is selected from each category. This year, more than 155,000 doodles have been received, and 45 were selected for the final stage, in which the winner is chosen based on the number of votes received from all over the world. After that, one winning doodle will be featured on Google India home page on Children’s Day (November the 14th), and a grant will be awarded to the child’s school.
The drawings show what particular aspects of the Indian culture children recognize as important or unique in the world, thus helping them develop a national identity and pride in their country’s achievements. In the category reserved for the youngest children (class 1-3), my favorite submission is that by Vrushi Gala, which combines the technological developments made in India (the world’s smallest car, Nano), with the natural beauty of the country, its rivers and the mango fruit.
For the group of children in classes 4 to 6, S. Pranav sent in a very complex and well thought design, which focuses on a combination of traditional and modern India, while, in the last category, the Google Doodle that impressed me most was that by Raghvi Bhatia (http://www.google.co.in/doodle4google/vote.html#d=d3-2), with neatly packed Google letters to resemble presents – in my opinion, this doodle is so good it could have been designed by a professional.
Speaking of professional designs, the “original doodler”, Dennis Hwang, offers recommendations and tips to children entering the Doodle4Google contest, such as focusing on shapes that complement the letters of the logo and on colors that fit well with the white background. Hwang will also be the one who decides the winning doodle (which may or may not be one of those voted by the public). All in all, this contest is a wonderful opportunity for children to develop their creativity and to think what matters to them in their own native country, with a chance to change the appearance of the world’s most popular search engine for a day.
Madame Curie (Sklodowska) was born in Poland on 7th November 1867. She became very famous as she is the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences – Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911. We have her to thank for developing radiotherapy, which is now commonly used in the treatment of cancer. As a child, she was known for her curious mind and incredible memory. Her father was a professor of science and she dreamed of following in his footsteps. This was not easy to accomplish as her family had become very impoverished. At the age of eighteen, Marie worked as a governess to help finance her sister’s studies in France. Her sister was eventually able to return the favour by bringing Marie to France when she was twenty four and helping to pay for her studies in scientific work. She married Pierre Curie in 1859 and bore him two daughters, Irene and Eve. Whilst having become a French citizen, she clung onto her Polish roots and taught her daughters to speak Polish. She regularly took her family back to Poland for visits.
She pioneered research on radioactivity which is now widely used to kill cancerous tumours. She also became known as the first female professor at the University of Paris and the first female to obtain a Nobel Prize. In 1903, her Nobel Prize was shared with her husband Pierre and Henri Becquerel. She was however the sole winner of the 1911 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
In 1906, Pierre was run down by a horse driven carriage in Paris and killed. Thus Marie was widowed and left with the sole responsibility of her two daughters. After her husband’s death, Marie was offered a national pension which she refused and instead took her husband’s place at the Sorbonne. She was shortly elected to a full professorship and became the first woman to hold a chair at the Sorbonne. The experiments she and her collaborators undertook were done blindly and in total ignorance of any potential side effects. The result is that she and her daughter Irene both ended up with Leukaemia, presumable the results of constant exposure to radioactivity. Her health failed rapidly and she eventually died, as a result of complications from handling radioactivity. Her daughter Eve was at her deathbed. Her research notebook is still so contaminated with radioactivity that it is considered dangerous and cannot be handled. There are now many homes for cancer patients worldwide named after Marie Curie.
Today, on the anniversary of her birthday, she is being commemorated in many countries. The world has a good reason to recognise this amazing woman and France and Poland have declared the year 2011as the year of Marie Curie. To commemorate this, a picture of her has been released, sitting at her desk, in her laboratory, in period dress and surrounded by her test tubes. Google doodle gets on the bandwagon by releasing this picture of her and applauding her achievements loudly.
Google has started a tradition of honoring special events with a new doodle, and now uses this feature to improve the personal experience of each user: a special Happy Birthday doodle is displayed on your Google home page on your birthday! In order to see it, you have to be logged into your account, and to have filled in your details on the profile page. It’s a nice way to start this special day, and to receive congratulations even before your friends start calling. When you hover with your mouse over the image you’ll see a message saying “Happy Birthday, (your name)!”, and, if you click, you’ll be taken to your Google Plus profile.
Of course, Google did not do that simply for the fun of it – this is also a pretty good method to encourage you to fill in more details in your profile, thus allowing the company to collect better demographic data. It may also help promote Google Plus more among people who are frequent users of the search engine, but not of the other features provided by Google. All in all, though, it’s pretty harmless, simply making your browser festive for one day (a very simple way of reminding your co-workers of your birthday, in case they’ve forgotten, is to call them to your computer and then open the Google home page… shame on them, if Google could remember, why couldn’t they?).
Google’s approach is by far the most enjoyable I’ve seen so far. One of its main competitors greeted me one day with the following message on their homepage: “Did you know that 6 million people share the same birthday with you?” Great way to make me feel special… and to make me switch to Google. It goes to prove how a very simple trick can have a great marketing impact for the company, as people are talking about this new Happy Birthday doodle, giving it positive feedback. And in fact, there’s nothing negative to say about it – so it seems Google has come up with a new winner. It’s also a small step towards a more personalized web browsing experience, which is clearly what we all need to survive the constant influx of information available on the Internet today.
On the 3rd of November, Panama celebrates Independence Day, marking the country’s official separation from Colombia in 1903, and the establishment of the Republic of Panama. But there’s more to it: this is also the start of a month full of events and celebrations in Panama, as it is immediately followed by Flag Day, on November 4th, and Colon Day, on November 5th (which is the local version of Columbus Day, a recognition of the first colonists to reach the shores of today’s Panama). Then, the 10th of November is again a public holiday, to remember the Uprising in the Villa de Los Santos, or the first official action against the Spanish domination, and the 28th of November marks the official proclamation of independence from Spain in 1821.
As you may have noticed already, Panama has not one, but two Independence Days, which is why the holiday on the 3rd of November, celebrated with Google’s Doodle, is also known as the Separation Day. After obtaining the independence from Spain, Panama became part of the Gran Republic of Colombia, along with Ecuador and Venezuela, and made several unsuccessful attempts to proclaim its independence over the following 80 years. By 1902, the situation in the region became dangerously unstable, as Colombia was devastated by the civil conflict known as the Thousand Days’ War, while also turning into a strategic point of interest for international powers, as the construction of the Panama Canal had just started. The refusal of the Colombian Congress to pass a treaty ratifying the terms for this construction led to a major shift in US politics: determined to see the Canal finished, the United States announced their support for an independent state of Panama, and even sent a warship to protect the local authorities from a possible Colombian attack when the independence was finally proclaimed.
This close link between the birth of a new state and one of mankind’s biggest engineering achievements is certainly worth celebrating with a Google Doodle, and, of course, a parade – which is how Panamanians themselves do it: local schools prepare all year for this moment, when marching bands and children dressed in folk outfits take over the streets of Panama City. And the fact that it always rains on their parades (literally, almost every year, November being a rainy month) doesn’t dampen their enthusiasm; quite to the contrary, Panamanians laugh about it and say it wouldn’t be a proper Independence Day without a few drops of rain.
Today, Google celebrates the 110th anniversary of André Malraux by doodling him. He is certainly extraordinaire in the history of France. The most influential piece of art gaining worldwide attention is his novel entitled “Man’s Fate” (“La Condition Humaine”) for which he won Prix Goncourt. Although he could be described as an adventurer, he is a man of several faces who has undoubtedly impacted the world by his works in culture, literature and art and created movements that are continued to date.
As you expect odd things in the life of all great figures, he had been suffering from vocal and motor tics which is referred to by some researchers as Tourette’s syndrome, his parents divorced when he was a young boy and his grandfather committed suicide. None of these stopped him from becoming a great figure. After extensively traveling China and Indochina he came with his famous novel “La Condition Humaine” in 1933 which was preceded by a number of other novels which mostly reflect his personal experiences during his explorations. It was about the same time in 1930s when he became an active anti-fascist during the Spanish civil war. Out of his personal touch with the war and through his unique way of writing he created another piece of art, “L’Espoir”, which was published while the war was still going. Soon the world experienced World Wide II and his contributions to allied powers brought him “Croix de guerre” and “Distinguished Service Order” from France and Britain.
After the war, General Charles de Gaulle appointed him as the Minister of Information and he continued to serve all de Gaulle’s presidency as the Minister of State and later Minister of Culture Affairs. During these years he expressed his ideas and brought out his books on art. He died in 1976 but his ashes were moved to Panthéon in Paris 20 years later in honor of his contributions.