Heinrich Hertz Doodle: Did Google Get It Wrong?

    February 22, 2012
    Josh Wolford
    Comments are off for this post.

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen today’s animated Google Doodle. The multi-colored never-ending wave pattern honors Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, who is best known for his studies on electromagnetic waves (and the fact that the unit of frequency, the Hertz, is named after him).

Now there is talk on the interwebs that Google got it wrong, however.

First spotted by Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable, the point has been brought up on Google’s Webmaster Central forum that the waves portrayed in the Doodle might not be correct to Hertz’s work. User Eric Hanson says,

Hertz described sound frequencies which are strictly sinusoidal in nature, for a company that has so much to do with the sciences, I wonder why the wave for today’ Google Doodle is clearly erroneous as it relates to the type of waves that Hertz described.

Another user, Zen Climber, elaborates:

Google’s doodle is made out of ellipse halves. To re-create Google’s doodle requires an infinite number of sinusoidal wave combinations. Same as it would be possible to create a periodic square wave using an infinite number of sinusoidal waves. All periodic wave forms have a frequency, which is represented in Hz (1/s) or Hertz. If you stop thinking here, the Google doodle would be a fair tribute to mr. Heinrich Hertz. However, february 22nd is not the celebration of periodicy, it’s mr. Hertz birthday! Heinrich Hertz clarified and expanded Maxwell’s Laws which described a finite number of electro-magnetic waves. Thus, i would say, the Google doodle is wrong!

From my terrible understanding of the science behind this, I’ll say that it appears they have a point. If they don’t both chastising me – I’ll just plead ignorance.

For their part, Google knows they are “making waves” with this one, posting this to their Google+ account:

We’re making waves with our doodle for Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, the German physicist who proved the existence of electromagnetic waves and whose research contributed to the invention of television and radio. For those of you who remember your high school physics, you’ll know he’s also the namesake of the unit hertz (Hz), which measures frequency. Visit the homepage to see it in action.

And for reference, here’s the Doodle in action:

Sound off! First, are the concerned science geeks right? Is Google’s Doodle wrong? And if so, do we care? I mean, the point is to honor the guy whose research paved to way for modern wireless communication. Plus, the logo has to look like the official Google logo (at least a little bit). And if you look closely enough, you can make out the letters (in their right colors) as the wave scrolls by.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

  • selenabingbang

    I noticed that right away. Surprised Google could have missed what most of learn in high school!

  • DeeJay

    I think the doodle would have been to far off the Google logo if it were represented in strictly sinusoidal form. I do think they missed the mark at the sound end of equation. I would have liked to have seen the sinusoidal wave form, that when you hover-over of click on it, would say “GOOGLE”! That would have been great. May next year…I’ll be looking for it XD


  • http://blog.nelsondev.net peter nelson

    Speaking as an engineer, it’s painful to look at this doodle! Anyone with any scientific or engineering background knows at a glance that it’s wrong, and since we are honoring a great scientist, I think it matters.

  • dan wendt

    the half circles and ellipses annoyed me all day. where is the classic sine wave?

  • NJB7

    It’s a fun Google doodle, and you guys are being puds about it.

  • Joseph Nimoy

    Interesting Google doodle honoring Hertz.
    But the wave forms are funny- looks like instead of using sinusoidal waves, they grafted semicircles onto line segments, and with the ends of the semicircles slopes not quite reaching the infinity value (< rather than <= at the end points). Cute solution mathematically, sidestepping the infinity problem, but artistically lazy and less aesthetic. I should think with all the talent at Google they could have done Hertz better. (All in the name of fun, folks)

  • http://www.w3ab.org W3AB

    Another digital “solution” to the analog world. Digital can NEVER equal analog, regardless of its sampling rate it will always be an approximation (≈).

    Analog rules!

    73 de W3AB