Google celebrates the 182nd anniversary of the birth of Eadweard J Muybridge, a British groundbreaking photographer who was renowned for his film-strip racehorses that captured all four of their hooves off the ground at the same time.

5 things to know about the race-horse animation:

  • In the 1870's, Muybridge was called upon by Leland Stanford, the California Governor, to settle a debate about whether a horse's hooves all left the ground at the same time when racing. Most paintings of race horses at the time depicted the animal with its front legs extended to the front and its hind legs extended to the rear. Stanford believed that the horse proceeded in unsupported transit, which led him to seek out Muybridge to prove it.
  • In 1877, Muybridge photographed Stanford's horse using 24 cameras, which captured the horse in motion and showed that all the hooves extended off the ground simultaneously, but not with the forward and rear legs extended out like other contemporary artists had depicted.
  • The series of photographs were called Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, or The Horse in Motion. The movement was captured using large glass-plate cameras, which were triggered by a thread as the horse passed.
  • The Video animation depicts the horse moving with its legs and hooves tucked beneath itself as it moves from pulling its front legs, while pushing its back legs.

Stanford published a book called Horse in Motion, which featured Muybridge's photographs, but did not give him any credit. It is rumored that this is because the photographer had not established himself in the scientific community of the time.

Muybridge was born on April 9, 1830, in Kingston Upon Thames in England. He spent a large portion of his life in the U.S. working in the book industry before he had a stagecoach accident and turned to photography, where he grew to fame.

Monday's Google Doodle celebrates Muybridge's work with stop-motion animation that depicts the racing horse with colored frames that spell out Google's logo.

The photographer spent a portion of his lifetime at the University of Pennsylvania and the local zoo, where he used banks of cameras to photograph animals and people to study their movement. His work was published in a collection titled Animal Locomotion.

Muybridge died in 1904. In his lifetime he was convicted of seeking out his wife's lover and murdering him. He was tried for murder, but his defense attorney pleased insanity due to a head injury that was caused by the stagecoach accident in his earlier life. He was later acquitted for justifiable homicide.