Google Doodle Remembers British Chemist Sir William Henry Perkin

Google Doodle Remembers British Chemist Sir William Henry Perkin

Google honored Sir William Henry Perkin, the chemist who invented the first purple synthetic dye, on his 180th birthday Monday with a doodle. However, the discovery was an accidental one.

The experiment proved that the chemical aniline could be partly transformed into a crude mixture which, when extracted with alcohol, produced a substance with an intense purple colour.

Sir William Perkin was born in the East End to a carpenter father and Scottish mother, and he was the youngest of seven children.

Furthermore, the colour purple had been a signifier of aristocracy, prestige and even royalty since ancient times, and it had been especially expensive and hard to produce as the requisite dye, Tyrian purple, since it was made from the glandular mucus of certain molluscs. Being at the peak of post-industrial revolution, Perkin's discovery happened to be at the appropriate time.

At the time, all dyes used for colouring cloth were natural substances, many of which were expensive and labour-intensive to extract. This resulted in a violet fashion craze.

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Google says after earning much wealth and success in manufacturing, Perkin returned to laboratory research.

Upon discovering the purple-tinted dye, Perkin worked to get the dye he named "mauveine" patented, manufactured and commercialized. He is credited for discovering synthetic dye at a young age of 18 and to introduce brightly coloured clothing to the masses which has set the foundation for today's chemical and pharmaceutical industries. On the 50th anniversary of his discovery, he was knighted in 1906.

Sonny Ross, a UK-based illustrator who drew today's Doodle tries to capture the frenzy of the once-exclusive purple clothing in Britain after mauveine was commercialised.

The rich purple colour Mr Perkin had stumbled across was adopted by no less than Queen Victoria herself.

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