Google Doodle Celebrates 296th Birthday of Maria Gaetana Agnesi

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By Ma Evelyn Castino Quilas | May 16, 2014 1:51 PM EST

In celebration of the 296th birthday of the famous female mathematician and philosopher Maria Gaetana Agnesi, Google treats visitors on the search engine homepage with an animated doodle on the "Witch of Agnesi."

The doodle can be viewed from the search giant's home page for the countries of New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Algeria, Germany, Ukraine, Philippines, Spain, South Africa, Libya, Italy, Oman, Poland, Algeria, Iraq, Brazil, and Kenya.

The mathematical style doodle features logo alphabets on the opposite ends with a close up picture of the philosopher at the center. The central theme of the doodle was the cubic curve for which the female mathematician was well-recognized.

According to the University of Saint Andrews, Maria Gaetana Agnesi was born on May 16, 1718 in Milan, Italy. She came from a wealthy family who earned their fortune from silk. Since her family could well-afford a tutor for her, she mastered Latin, Greek, and Hebrew even at a very young age.

A wonder child, Agnesi discussed Music, History, Philosophy, and Mathematics using different languages in the salon circuit where she frequently stayed. At a very young age of nine, Agnesi published a vernacular version of the Italian dissertation on higher education for women made by one of her tutors.

She also published a series of essays on philosophy and natural science entitled "Propositiones Philosophicae" in 1938. With the 191 philosophical thesis contained in the volume, the famous Mathematician discussed with his father's visitors who were famous and even international personalities.

Her most famous contribution was the publication of two volumes on differential calculus. The book contained an exposition by example on the cubic curve which is known as "Witch of Agnesi." The curve was also named "versoria" in Latin which means "rope that turns a sail."

One of the famous personalities who appreciated her work was Pope Benedict XIV. The Pope appointed her to the position of honorary reader at the University of Bologna.

Aside from her interest in Mathematics, Agnesi also served as the Chair of Mathematics at the University of Bologna after the invitation of the University President and three other professors. She also spent her life doing charitable work and spent their families' wealth for this purpose.

Google doodle proactively featured other scientist and achievers such as British Chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, chemist Percy Julian, and  Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe.

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