Google Doodle on Wednesday, 27 October, is celebrating the 108th birth anniversary of Czech chemist Otto Wichterle, the inventor of soft contact lenses, by sharing a doodle of him with a contact lens on his fingertips.
“His innovations also laid the foundation for state-of-the-art medical technologies such as “smart” biomaterials, which are used to restore human connective tissues, and bio-recognizable polymers, which have inspired a new standard for drug administration,” Google Doodle page says.
Who was Otto Wichterle?
Otto Wichterle was born on October 27 in 1913 in Prostjov, the Czech Republic (then, Austria-Hungary). As a lover of science from a very young age, Wichterle went on to earn his doctorate in organic chemistry in 1936 from the Prague Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT). He taught as a professor at his alma mater during the 1950s while developing an absorbent and transparent gel for eye implants.
Political turmoil pushed Wichterle out of the ICT but that did not stop him from continuing with his development. He continued refining his hydrogel development at home.
"In 1961, Wichterle (a glasses wearer himself) produced the first soft contact lenses with a DIY apparatus made of a child’s erector set, a bicycle light battery, a phonograph motor, and homemade glass tubing and molds," reads the Google Doodle blog
Wichterle's genius is also reflected in the fact that he invented the contact lens at his home, where he was refining hydrogel development after political turmoil pushed him out of the ICT.
While Wichterle is most well-known as the inventor of contact lenses, his innovations also laid the foundation for state-of-the-art medical technologies such as “smart” biomaterials, which are used to restore human connective tissues, and bio-recognizable polymers, which have inspired a new standard for drug administration. As the inventor of countless patents and a lifelong researcher, Wichterle was elected the first President of the Academy of the Czech Republic, following the country’s establishment in 1993.
Wishing Wichterle with the doodle on his 108th birth anniversary, Google said, “Happy birthday, Otto Wichterle—thanks for helping the world see eye to eye!”