Determination of the speed of light: What's actually going on in Ole Roemer's Google Doodle?

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The little curly-haired cartoon that is wandering around Google’s homepage seems to be spending a lot of his time waiting. And that’s what the real Ole Roemer, who the image depicts, mostly did – right up until he made one of the most important discoveries in the history of science, and secured his place in Google’s image.

Today’s Google Doodle depicts the way that humanity learnt about one of the most fundamental pieces of information in the universe – how we determined not only the speed of light, but that light had a speed at all.

The Doodle shows the structure of our solar system, and also Roemer looking up at it through a big telescope while wandering around and timing himself. Which is a fairly accurate depiction of how Roemer made the calculations that would go on to shape our understanding of the universe in the most fundamental ways.

It’s really the two Os in…

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