Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus, the Polish Renaissance man who first floated the theory that the sun, not the Earth, was the center of the universe. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “sometime between 1510 and 1514 [Copernicus] wrote an essay that has come to be known as the ‘Commentariolus,’ [which] introduced his new cosmological idea, the heliocentric universe.” The piece also included seven now-popular axioms such as, “the center of the universe is near the sun” and “the distance from the Earth to the sun is imperceptible compared with the distance to the stars.” The theory was published in 1543, shortly before he died.
The Google Doodle, then, naturally has the “O”s in Google representing planets circling around the sun. When you click anywhere on the soundless Doodle, Google takes you to the search results for “Nicolaus Copernicus.”
On what would be his 540th year on the planet, Copernicus’s birthday beat out other notable Feb. 19 achievements such as Thomas Edison receiving a patent for his phonograph (1878), and the publishing of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique (1963).