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Posted at 1:00 AM ET, 09/ 8/2010

ANIMATION OF THE DAY: Color us intrigued by newest 'Google Doodle' Mystery (and our Fave SIX theories about What It Means)

By Michael Cavna

UPDATE: 'Round about midnight (ET), Google posted a new telling tweet as it also unveiled a new logo "doodle." The latest tweet read: "Our doodle is dressing up in its brightest colors for something exciting coming very soon..." And the new doodle showed a gray "Google" logo that, letter by letter, turned to full color as one typed in the search characters. The scuttlebutt about the Skittles-tinted transformation, some sites said, was that Google's Bay Area MoMA event Wednesday would involve an announcement about "real-time search" changes. (Among the scheduled speakers is "search czar" Ben Gomes.)

Also, on Tuesday, some Comic Riffs readers said they were increasingly intrigued by the quirky wording of Google's official statement: "Today's doodle is fast, fun and interactive, just the way we think search should be." On Tuesday, Google also posted this tease of a Tweet: "Boisterous doodle today. Maybe it's excited about the week ahead..." So mission accomplished, Google: We'll definitely be tuning in Wednesday for your "search-related" announcement. In real time, even.

If merely for the amount of mystery surrounding it, today's "Google Doodle" is officially, already, Comic Riffs's Animation of the Day.

If you haven't already checked it out, this is the "doodle" that millions of viewers see when they go to use Google today -- brightly colored balls (some say balloons, some say "atomic particles") that form the company logo and repel from the mouse pointer:

Google, of course, notably marks many holidays, anniversaries and achievements with inventive variations on its logo. Today, however -- at least so far -- Google was not offering any clues as to the new kinetic-ball animation on its Google Logos page. (The most recent logo that the company's page acknowledges is Saturday's "Buckyball" to mark the silver anniversary.)

So as befitting something so scientific in appearance, the theories began to abound (if not rebound). Some of our favorite hypotheses so far:

1. That Monday was the birthday of John Dalton and so the logo is a nod to his "Atomic Theory." (Update: Several readers have suggested Tuesday's birthday of the "benzene dream" chemist August Kekulé.)

2. That Google celebrates its birthday on several different days in September -- and this year, it chose Sept. 7.

3. That the logo marks the 83rd anniversary of Farnsworth's image dissector camera tube and the transmission of its first picture.

4. That this is all about flaunting language code. As the Guardian posits: "The aim of the logo seems to be to draw attention to the importance of CSS3, an emerging standard which is being developed as the next version of the web language HTML, called HTML5, is being ratified by the World Wide Web Consortium."

The theory that Comic Riffs, by mere whim, chooses to believe in is that the "Google Balls" logo celebrates Lou Majors's "theory of existence," as today marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of "The Eternal Cycle." If for no other reason, we find the video (below) oddly riveting:

Meantime, what's the real inspiration? Word is that Google is holding a news conference at San Francisco's Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) on Wednesday. So we can only hope that come tomorrow, all will be revealed. (And if the logo is a Damien Hirst allusion, then we'll be more than a mite disappointed.)

Until then, we're going to keep messin' with this mouse pointer because, well, the logo is simply quite the elegant time-waster.

By Michael Cavna  | September 8, 2010; 1:00 AM ET
Categories:  The Animation  | Tags:  Google Doodles  
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This from the wikipedia item on Friedrich August Kekulé von Stradonitz, born September 7, who devised chemical valence theory and who discovered the chemical structure of benzene:

"The other anecdote he told in 1890, of a vision of dancing atoms and molecules that led to his theory of structure, happened (he said) while he was riding on the upper deck of a horse-drawn omnibus in London. If true, this probably occurred in the late summer of 1855."

Google is slyly commemoratiing Kekulé's birthday

Posted by: cyboman1 | September 7, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

i think it is 75% CSS3 visibility-raising, and 25% cyboman1's Kekulé hypothesis...

Posted by: dfunkt | September 7, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

If you left click the mouse rapidly while moving it back and forth within the moving balls, puzzle-like pieces appear.

Posted by: trynfindit | September 7, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Many thanks for the theory, @cyboman1 -- here's one animation that imagines birthday boy Kekulé's famed "benzene dream":


Posted by: cavnam | September 7, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

It's to announce a new slate / tablet device which is why the mouse 'repels' Google. They're moving to a touch device sans a mouse or pointer.

Posted by: bTTAGS | September 7, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

My mouse pointer represents me trying to find some information on Google's newer search system, which doesn't work. The balls flying away represent Google flooding me with bogus suggestions instead of searching for what what I specified.

For example, I was trying to find a person known as "fizztickle." Google used to either find it, or tell me it is not there. Not any more.

Posted by: Jumper1 | September 8, 2010 2:01 PM | Report abuse

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