Google’s global search engine celebrates the 108th birthday of Otto Wichterle on Wednesday, a renowned Czech chemist credited with developing the modern soft contact lens. Wichterle is commemorated with a unique Doodle created by Google, which shows him holding up a contact lens, while its reflection forms the Google logo in the background.
Weichterle, born in 1913 in Prostejov, Czech Republic (then Austria-Hungary), completed his doctoral studies in organic chemistry in 1936 at the Prague Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT). In the 1950s, he taught at his alma mater while developing an absorbent and transparent gel for eye implants.
It was in 1961 that Wichterle, who formerly wore glasses for vision correction, created a DIY apparatus from a child’s erector set, a bicycle light battery, a phonograph motor, and homemade glass tubing and molds. Furthermore, he was an inventor of countless patents and a lifelong researcher. Weichterle was elected to serve as the first president of the Czech Academy after the country was established in 1993. Globally, around 140 million people wear soft contact lenses for their eyesight needs.
On the occasion of his 108th birthday, several Twitter users also paid tribute to the great Czech chemist.