By Alessia De Silva
An Austrian took over the top slot for the ‘Google Doodle’ this week – with the search engine altering it’s logo to honour the father of modern genetics – Gregor Mendel.
The Google Doodle is an occasional event usually to celebrate a special event such as the birthday of a famous person or a bank holiday, in the past recreating the Pac-Man game in the logo to mark it’s 30th birthday or by including a chocolate dipped strawberry to symbolize Valentine’s Day.
This week the preference was peas, the trademark of Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884) – a monk and scientist from Austria who studied pea plants, honeybees and animals.
He spent years at a monastery in his home country (to evade pauperism, as his poor, farming background meant he could not afford a good education) before discovering biology and practical experiments.
He worked on a project concerning the genetics of peas for many years, and published his work in a journal.
However, the only response he gained was one of disinterest, as no-one seemed to appreciate or understand his findings.
After his death at the age of 62 from kidney disease, a new abbot at the monastery set fire to his papers. He had not been approved of for being intrigued by the studies of scientists such as Charles Darwin.
His work almost came to nothing, but then was rediscovered by some investigators in the early 1900s.
People began to connect his work to that of Darwin’s, and he achieved the increased fame he deserved.
The 20th July 2011 would have been Mendel’s 189th birthday, and so Google has decided to dedicate its logo to him in the arrangement of pea pods, demonstrating his fascination to the vegetable and bringing light to the valuable knowledge he discovered in the little Austrian monastery.