In addition to indexing, organizing, and delivering the sum total of human knowledge to anyone on the planet for free, Google is also popular for its charming “Google Doodles,” small, often interactive illustrations on its home page that honor some person or event.
As 2017 winds to a close, now is a good time to take stock of the past year—successes, failures, and everything in between. But it’s also a good time to look back on some of the things that made us smile. With that in mind, he are 20 of the best Google Doodles from 2017.
1. Savitribai Phule’s 186th Birthday—January 3, 2017
Today marks the 186th birthday of Savitribai Phule, a heroine of social reform in India. A woman of many accomplishments, Savitribai and her husband opened India’s first school for women in Pune in 1848. Four years later, she and her husband were honored by the British government for their contributions to women’s education. Later in life, Phule set up a care program for widows and led campaigns advocating for Indian citizens deemed “untouchable,” due to being born into what was considered a lower caste.
2. Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017—January 16, 2017
Today we celebrate the work and life of Martin Luther King Jr.
Today’s Doodle, by guest artist Keith Mallett, captures one of the major themes of King’s speeches and writing: unity. “All life is interrelated,” he said. “We are all made to live together.” King urged Americans of all races to keep “working toward a world of brotherhood, cooperation, and peace.”
3. Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s 92nd Birthday—February 6, 2017
It might be said that Pramoedya Ananta Toer’s pen was his sword. Known as ‘Pramoedya’ or “Pram,’ this Indonesian writer was a proponent of human rights and freedom of expression who fought against Japanese and Dutch colonialism in his country.
Today’s Doodle celebrates Pram’s birthday with an animation of the industrious novelist seated at his typewriter, hard at work.
4. Seven Earth-size Exoplanets Discovered!—February 23, 2017
This just in! Turns out it wasn’t just dust on the telescope lens: NASA just announced the discovery of seven earth-size planets orbiting the same star only 235 trillion miles away. In space terms, that practically makes us next-door neighbors!
5. First Day of Spring 2017 (Northern Hemisphere)—March 20, 2017
Today is the spring equinox — when the day and night are equal in length. The word equinox comes from the Latin for equal and night. Almost everywhere in the world today, nighttime and daytime are each 12 hours.
6. Saridjah Niung’s 109th Birthday—March 26, 2017
Sukabumi-born Saridjah Niung, better known as Mrs. Soed, was a well-loved musician, teacher, radio announcer, playwright and batik artist in Indonesia. Her music delighted the ears of young children, and to this day, they can be heard singing along to the tune of her most popular songs: ”Hi Pedicab,” “Strong Kids,” and “Butterflies.”
Today, we celebrate Saridjah Niung Soedibjo Star’s artistic contributions on what would have been her 109th birthday.
7. First Day of Bengali Calendar Pohela Boishakh—April 14, 2017
Today’s doodle marks Pohela Boishakh, the first day of the Bengali Calendar. While Pohela Boishakh is a lively festival today, its origins are less fanciful. The Bengali calendar year was developed over 400 years ago by the Emperor Akbar as a way to collect taxes on a specific date every year. When the new year begins, accountants can close their books on the previous year and start fresh.
8. 100th Anniversary of Giro d’Italia—May 5, 2017
The Giro d’Italia, or Tour of Italy, is one of the world’s most famous bicycle races. Twenty-two international teams compete for three weeks in a contest of racing tactics, willpower, and raw athleticism. The 2017 Giro is extra special: it’s the 100th race!
9. Ferdinand Monoyer’s 181st Birthday—May 9, 2017
Ferdinand Monoyer, born on this date in 1836, rose to prominence as one of France’s most famous ophthalmologists. He developed the diopter, the unit of measurement for vision that’s still used today. The diopter measures the distance you’d have to be from text to read it. Most notably, Monoyer devised an eye chart where every row represents a different diopter, from smallest to largest.
10. Richard Oakes’ 75th Birthday—May 22, 2017
Throughout the 1960s and 70s, Richard Oakes made a stand for the rights of American Indians. Over his time as an activist, he fought peacefully for freedom, justice, and the right of American Indians to have control over their lands.
Here’s to Richard Oakes, for his unwavering dedication to his community and social justice.
11. Dragon Boat Festival 2017—May 30, 2017
The Dragon Boat Festival has been held in honor of revered Chinese poet Qu Yuan (circa 339–278 B.C.E.) for over 2,000 years. People celebrate this traditional holiday by eating sticky dumplings called zongzi, and of course by racing dragon boats! The vessels are sometimes built to resemble an actual dragon with a head and tail, just like in today’s Doodle, though they can also look like regular narrow rowing boats. Another tradition from ancient times is wearing embroidered pouches full of fragrant herbs and incense, in the hopes they will protect against bad luck.
12. Russia National Day 2017—June 12, 2017
Today is Russia Day, and the bouncing birch logs in our Doodle are excited to celebrate with the rest of the country!
While many Russians will celebrate the day off by attending a fireworks show or concert in a city square, others will drive down country roads lined with birch trees, on their way to their family’s dacha (summer home). The birch is one of Russia’s most recognizable symbols. With ties to Slavic folklore, arts, culture, and medicine, the birch tree has planted its roots firmly in the hearts of Russians both young and old.
13. Winter Solstice 2017 (Southern Hemisphere)—June 21, 2017
14. ICC 2017 Women’s Cricket World Cup Begins!—June 24, 2017
Not just a doodle, this was (and is!) an actually playable game!
Ah, summer: the sound of leather on willow, and the spectacle of cricket … cricket! As the tournament begins, something buzzes outside. A team of crickets sans tickets have set up their own wickets for a game of pest cricket! As they face their archrivals, the snails, it’s sure to be a match for the centuries. Don’t be fooled by their sluggish looks — these fielders can be fast on their feet!
To celebrate the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup, we’re inviting everyone to tap/click and take a swing at our pocket-size game!
15. Marshall McLuhan’s 106th Birthday—July 21, 2017
Long before we started looking to our screens for all the answers, Marshall McLuhan saw the internet coming — and predicted just how much impact it would have. A Canadian philosopher and professor who specialized in media theory, McLuhan came to prominence in the 1960s, just as TV was becoming part of everyday life. At the center of his thinking was the idea that society is shaped by technology and the way information is shared.
Today’s Doodle, which celebrates the visionary’s 106th birthday, illustrates this theory by showing how McLuhan viewed human history. He saw it through the lens of 4 distinct eras: the acoustic age, the literary age, the print age, and the electronic age. His first major book, The Gutenberg Galaxy (1962), popularized the term “global village” — the idea that technology brings people together and allows everyone the same access to information.
16. 44th Anniversary of the Birth of Hip Hop—August 11, 2017
Another interactive Doodle, this one lets the user actually make their own classic hip hop beats using a virtual turntable.
On August 11, 1973, an 18-year-old, Jamaican-American DJ who went by the name of Kool Herc threw a back-to-school jam at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx, New York. During his set, he decided to do something different. Instead of playing the songs in full, he played only their instrumental sections, or “breaks” – sections where he noticed the crowd went wild. During these “breaks” his friend Coke La Rock hyped up the crowd with a microphone. And with that, Hip Hop was born.
Today, we celebrate the 44th anniversary of that very moment with a first-of-its-kind Doodle featuring a custom logo graphic by famed graffiti artist Cey Adams, interactive turntables on which users can mix samples from legendary tracks, and a serving of Hip Hop history – with an emphasis on its founding pioneers. What’s more, the whole experience is narrated by Hip Hop icon Fab 5 Freddy, former host of “Yo! MTV Raps.”
17. Great American Eclipse 2017—August 21, 2017
It’s been 99 years since an total eclipse crossed the width the United States. This year, the 65-mile wide path of totality with sweep, sash-like, across the country—entering the map at Oregon and exiting at South Carolina. The once-in-a-lifetime spectacle will attract an estimated 7.4 million people to areas in the path of totality, including so-called eclipse-chasers, who plan for years in advance and travel from far and wide to get a glimpse of the stellar phenomenon.
18. 56th Anniversary of the Traffic Light Man—October 13, 2017
The first traffic light men were installed in 1969 and were so popular they even showed up in children’s cartoons. After the Berlin Wall fell, a group of East Germans called “Rescue the Ampelmännchen” managed to save the symbols after the government attempted to remove them.
19. S. Chandrasekhar’s 107th Birthday—October 19, 2017
“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are.” Thanks to Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, we know! Today marks the 107th birthday of the first astrophysicist to win a Nobel Prize for his theory on the evolution of stars.
Today’s Doodle illustrates one of the most important of all of S. Chandrasekhar’s contributions to our understanding of stars and their evolution: The Chandrasekhar limit. The limit explains that when a star’s mass is lighter than 1.4 times that of the sun, it eventually collapses into a denser stage called a “white dwarf.” When heavier than 1.4, a white dwarf can continue to collapse and condense, evolving into a black hole or a supernova explosion.
20. 131st Anniversary of the Hole Puncher—November 14, 2017
Today we celebrate 131 years of the hole puncher, an understated – but essential – artifact of German engineering. As modern workplaces trek further into the digital frontier, this centuries-old tool remains largely, wonderfully, the same.
Doodle by Gerben Steenks
2017 has had its ups and downs to be sure, but one thing that we can definitely say for it is this—it was a great year for Google Doodles! What will 2018 bring? Only time (and Google) can tell.
Thanks to Google and all the artists, designers, and developers who created these Doodles!
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