The Washington Post

GREGOR MENDEL: Google Doodle celebrates the father of genetics


Rare is the monk who gets to be celebrated for passing down his genes.

Today, though, Google marks the 189th birthday of a friar who became a father, thanks to his legendary work in the science of genetics.

Gregor Johann Mendel — who was born on this day in 1822 — is honored Wednesday with his own Google Doodle, which spells out the company’s home-page logo in diagrammed pea pods.

The Austro-born scientist studied inherited traits in pea plants — research that would plant the seeds for his posthumous fame. Once his work was independently replicated in the 20th century, the modern field of genetics began to fully sprout.

Testing tens of thousands of pea plants, Mendel studied the patterns of dominant, recessive and hybrid traits. Thanks to his genetically modified foodstuffs, his laws of segregation and independent assortment would eventually bathe the gardener in branding glory, as they became better known decades after his death as Mendel’s “laws of inheritance.”

The monastic abbot also studied the secret lives of bees, as well as astronomy and meteorology. As a student in Vienna, he also studied physics under professor Christian Doppler of “the Doppler effect” fame. (Proving once again that in science, there’s nothing like branding when achieving household immortality.)

Mendel died in 1884, at age 61, from kidney disease. The “father of genetics” left behind no direct descendants.

MORE: TOP GOOGLE DOODLES: Our Fave Five logo animations



GALLERY: Click the image above to view more Google Doodles.


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Writer/artist/visual storyteller Michael Cavna is creator of the "Comic Riffs" column and graphic-novel reviewer for The Post's Book World. He relishes sharp-eyed satire in most any form.


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