With unique doodle, Google pays birthday tributes to Otto Wichterle, inventor of contact lens
Google on Wednesday paid tributes with a unique doodle to Czech chemist Otto Wichterle, who is known to have invented the modern soft contact lens – now used by an estimated 140 million people around the world for their eyesight needs. Today, i.e. October 27, marks Wichterle's 108th birth anniversary, an occasion which called for the doodle that, according to Google, would enlighten netizens with fresh insight on the scientist, regardless of whether they themselves are contact lens users.
The Google Doodle, with its unique design, shows Otto Wichterle holding up a single piece of contact lens upon his fingertips, while light is reflected to form the Google logo in the background, as representative of eyesight.
Otto Wichterle was born October 27, 1913, at Prostĕjov in the Czech Republic (then, Austria-Hungary). As a lover of science from his youth, Wichterle went on to earn his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1936 from the Prague Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT). He taught as a professor at his alma mater during the 1950s while developing an absorbent and transparent gel for eye implants.
In 1961, Wichterle, who wore spectacles himself, produced the very first soft contact lenses with a DIY apparatus made of a child’s erector set, a bicycle light battery, a phonograph motor, and homemade glass tubing and moulds. This was the earliest version of the modern contact lenses that are now used.
Wichterle's genius is also reflected in the fact that he invented the contact lens at his home, where he was refining hydrogel development after political turmoil pushed him out of the ICT.
While Wichterle is most well-known as the inventor of contact lenses, his innovations also laid the foundation for state-of-the-art medical technologies such as “smart” biomaterials, which are used to restore human connective tissues, and bio-recognizable polymers, which have inspired a new standard for drug administration. As the inventor of countless patents and a lifelong researcher, Wichterle was elected the first President of the Academy of the Czech Republic, following the country’s establishment in 1993.
Wishing Wichterle with the doodle on his 108th birth anniversary, Google said, “Happy birthday, Otto Wichterle—thanks for helping the world see eye to eye!”