If you’ve been on Google today, then you’ve seen the doodle above of the galloping horse. Far from being a random animated image, the running horse is the work of Eadweard J. Muybridge, a photographer who was born 182 years ago today.
The work is known as Sallie Gardner at a Gallop, or The Horse in Motion, and is considered to be the precusor to motion pictures. To capture the image, Muybridge lined up 24 cameras with electromagnetic shutters, strung a thread across a track and had the horse run by. As it tripped the thread, the image was taken, producing stills of the horse. To view the images, Muybridge invented a machine called the zoopraxiscope, a device that some say gave Thomas Edison the idea for the kinetoscope, the machine that served as the foundation for cinematic projection.
In addition to producing a horse in motion, the images also revealed an unknown fact about running horses: All four of their legs are momentarily airborne at the same time. Muybridge went on to capture many other animals, including humans, in the same way.
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