Google’s Alexander Calder Doodle Mobile Wouldn’t Work in Reality

On July 22 2011, Google replaced their logo on their homepage worldwide with a doodle to celebrate Alexander Calder‘s 113th birthday:

Image of Alexander Calder Mobiles Google Doodle

The doodle was a Calder-style mobile that used HTML5 canvas which made it possible for people to interact with it and make it move. It ran a physics simulation on the mobile’s geometry and then did real-time 3D rendering with vector graphics. You can still view the doodle and try it out (and you should, it’s a lot of fun!) via the Google Doodles Archive.

As someone who has written code for 3d animations and scripts for 3d printed mobiles, I have a lot of admiration for the technical end of this doodle. But as a professional mobile maker, it can’t help to notice that apparently there wasn’t enough research done on how the balance structure of a mobile works. The mobile shown in the Google doodle would never work in reality. It has two completely unsupported sections:

Image of Alexander Calder Mobiles Google Doodle

And reconstructing the mobile in my CAD software and calculating the balance points, it turns out that a number of them are incorrect. Here’s where they should be instead:

Image of Alexander Calder Mobiles Google Doodle

If someone were to make this mobile, the lowest four parts of it could be fixed by adjusting the balance points to their correct positions. However, that wouldn’t be enough for everything from there on up. The unsupported arms would need to be redesigned first. So in that way, the above indicated balance point corrections in the upper part of the mobile don’t really mean anything. Structural changes would have to be made first.

– Read of my blog about mobiles

© 2017 Marco Mahler