John Harrison

It’s been said that necessity is the mother of invention, and without a doubt, British horologist John Harrison brought that age-old proverb to life.

Born on this day in 1693, in Foulby, Yorkshire, England, Harrison was a self-educated clockmaker and carpenter who came to the rescue of countless sailors by creating the first marine chronometer to calculate longitude at sea.

Seeking to remedy naval disasters, the British government created the Board of Longitude in 1714, which offered a reward of £20,000 to anyone who could devise a navigational instrument that could find the longitude within 30 miles of a sea voyage.

Harrison took on the challenge. He set to work on his chronometer in 1728 and completed it in 1735, following up this feat with three watches that were even smaller and more on the money than his first.

Harrison’s extraordinary invention brought him much acclaim. Thanks to him, seamen could determine not only gauge latitude but longitude, making their excursions far safer.

Our colorful Doodle shows the inventor hard at work, surrounded by the tools of his trade. Today, time is on his side.

2018 Commonwealth Games

The 2018 Commonwealth Games are officially underway on Australia’s Gold Coast. Over the next two weeks, thousands of athletes from 70 Commonwealth countries and territories will compete in 18 sports and 7 para-sports. Today’s Doodle jumps right into the action as one of the Google “Os” takes us through various sports in the Games, including boxing, lawn bowls, para-cycling, and netball.

This multi-sport event started in 1930, when 11 countries from the Commonwealth of Nations sent athletes to Ontario, Canada to partake in what were then called the British Empire Games. The inaugural Games included six sports: athletics, boxing, lawn bowls, rowing, swimming and diving, and wrestling.

Though competitive by nature, the Games were meant to foster camaraderie and sportsmanship. Since 1930, they’ve taken place every four years, excluding 1942 and 1946, and have grown in teams, athletes, events, and traditions.

2018 is already setting records: this year features the largest integrated program of events and para-events, and for the first time, women will compete for the same number of medals as men.