Friday's Google doodle honors the birthday of artist Alexander Calder, an American sculptor best known for his large, mesmerizing mobiles.

Google software engineer Jered Wierzbicki wrote on the official Google blog that he was inspired by a recent visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, where he was taken aback by an exhibit of Calder's work: all beautifully balanced and proportioned, moving gently in the air currents like a whimsical metal forest. Calder took ordinary materials at hand-wire, scraps of sheet metal-and made them into brilliant forms, letting space and motion do the rest. As an engineer, I work with abstractions, too, so this really struck me. 

Wierzbicki and a team of engineers, using that muse, created Google's first doodle made entirely using HTML5 canvas.  The doodle is actually interactive so you need to use a modern browser to interact with it.  It runs a physics simulation on the mobile's geometry, and then does realtime 3D rendering with vector graphics.

Using your mouse, you can control the mobile, spinning its various appendages and imaging a gentle breeze giving it movement.  If you view the doodle on a laptop or mobile device with a built-in accelerometer, tilting your computer will also affect the movement of the mobile.

I like to think Calder would have appreciated today's doodle, since we're setting up shapes and abstractions and letting them act on their own,

At the age of 78, Calder died in 1976.