If you haven't already, visit Google.pl, where a mesmerizing Doodle honoring Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem will joyfully consume at least 20 minutes of your day. Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Lem's first but lesser known novel, The Astronauts, the black-and-white, pencil-sketched interactive Doodle is epic. To call it a Doodle is almost selling it short. It's basically a mini video game that takes you through some simple mathematical problems and challenges in order to build a giant robot. Spoiler: When you beat the game, the robot explodes and you're left with the results of a (Polish) Google search for Stanislaw Lem. Clicking a question-mark button next to the Doodle reveals a message (in Polish) crediting Daniel Mroz for the drawings, inspired by Lem's short story collection The Cyberiad, an internationally acclaimed series about a universe of robots with the occasional appearance of human 'palefaces'. To check out all of the sprites — a computer graphics term roughly equivalent to frames in an animation — go to this page, compiled by The Wall Street Journal's Jeremy Singer-Vine. Some of our favorites:
Google's made a habit of building interactive tributes to creative legends.
More recently, Google went all-American with an interactive, customizable turkey Doodle. It looks a lot like those hand-drawn turkeys (literally, from an outline of your hand) that you made in elementary school around Thanksgiving-time. It's cute, but not quite as intellectually engaging as the animated game in honor of Lem.
Another timely interactive tribute arrived in time for Jim Hensen's 75th birthday in September. Released just a couple months before the new Muppets movie, six Muppet-like characters would follow your cursor around the screen and through some ingenuity, you could unearth some Easter Eggs that made funny things happen. A Canadian-sounding YouTube user by the name of T-Bone Pearson explains the secrets:
Earlier this summer, the search engine paid tribute to the late guitar legend Les Paul, with a playable and recordable Doodle on the day of his 96th birthday. The page went viral immediately, leading even some famous musicians to construct tracks on the dead simple guitar-like logo. We made a top ten list of the best tracks, but this chord-rich version of Frankie Vallie's "Can't Take My Eyes Off of You" is worth embedding again:
At the time, The Atlantic's Nicholas Jackson called the Les Paul widget "the coolest Doodle ever." But we'd like to crown the new Stanislew Lem Doodle as the robot king of the interactive Google Doodles. Its amazing animated companion would have to be none other than the late Queen frontman and hero of the mustache Freddie Mercury. Google whipped up this minute-and-a-half of amazing in honor of his 65th birthday:
And because we can't stop, here's a link to the fully playable Pac-man Doodle. Now back to work!