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Google Celebrates Julius Richard Petri

It’s German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri’s  161st birthday and Google is celebrating the same with a unique, interactive doodle.

Julius is most known for his invention of the Petri dish, that small but irreplaceable little glass dish, which is a biologist’s most important tool. The dish, aptly named after Petri, were initially used in the laboratory to identify different strains of bacteria. The dish slowly gained popularity and is now used even by aspiring students and is a common feature in school labs.

The Google Doodle is an interesting, interactive doodle showing the Petri dishes in their different uses. The logo comprises of six Petri dishes, each one in the colour of the corresponding Google alphabet. The third dish comes with a play button and on clicking the button, the doodle is activated. A gloved hand hovers over each dish, adding different strains of bacteria with a cotton swab. The bacteria slowly grows and the different forms are visible. The hand swabs in the shape of each Google alphabet.

Hovering over each dish, you can further see where the bacteria in each Petri dish was taken from.  While the fist dish contains bacteria from old, stinky, smelly socks, the second Petri dish’s bacteria is derived from an object as simple as a door knob. The third Petri dish contains bacteria from a computer keyboard. The fourth and fifth Petri dishes have the bacteria from a puppy and the wet planted soil respectively. The sixth and the last Petri dish shows us the bacteria present on a common cleaning sponge. Clicking on the magnifying glass next to the last Petri dish takes viewers to the search results for Julius Richard Petri. Perhaps Google’s reasons for choosing the specific objects are they are perhaps the ‘germiest’ places one usually encounters in their daily activities.

Julius Richard Petri was born on May 31, 1852 in Barmen, a part of the then German confederation. He completed his education in medicine from Kaiser-Wilhelm-Academy for Military Physicians and received his medical degree in 1876. It was while working at Imperial Health Office as an assistant to Robert Koch (founder of modern bacteriology) that he developed the Petri dishes. After inventing the Petri culture dish, he also invented the technique of ‘agar culture’, used to purify or clone bacterial colonies obtained from a single cell.

 

His invention though deceptively simple has assisted everyone from the smallest of school students to the greatest scientist in identifying different strains and cloning bacteria. For over a century, his invention has been used constantly. One technological invention that survived the wrath of time and technology.

Julius Petri passed away on December 20, 1921.



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