Way, way back in ancient history (1996), two Stanford University graduate students constructed a search engine called “BackRub” that utilized links to determine the importance of individual web pages. By 1998 the students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had built their project into the company now known world-wide as “Google.”
Since then, the Google Doodle—the familiar logo that tops their search page—has transmogrified to honor heroes, to celebrate holidays, even to play like a real guitar.
Today’s Doodle is a tribute to a Catholic monk by the name of Gregor Mendel.
* * * * *
Mendel was born on this date in 1822, the only son of German farmers living in the region which is now the Czech Republic. As a child he tended the Mendel family garden and studied beekeeping. Later, he studied theoretical philosophy and physics at the University of Olomouc.
Mendel’s bifurcated education—focusing on both theology and science—prepared him well for the monastic life of prayer, and for his career as breeder of plants and keeper of bees at St. Thomas Abbey, where he became abbot. He studied both astronomy and meteorology, founding the Austrian Meteorological Society in 1865.
He had a particular interest in nature and studied the common garden peas in the monastery garden—which led to his groundbreaking discovery of dominant and recessive traits. Mendel’s study of heredity became the basis for modern genetic research.