Happy New Year’s Day 2011!

by Chris Silver Smith

Google’s “doodle” logo for New Year’s Day today has the “OOGL” of the logo replaced with Roman numerals for two-thousand-and-eleven, and the background of it is full of fireworks going off:

Google New Year's Day Logo, January 1, 2011

Though not as well known, the letter “G” was also used as a shorthand Roman numeral in the Middle Ages to represent four-hundred, and the uppercase “E” was used to denote two-hundred-fifty. If we included these two numbers, the sequence might be read as 2011 – 400 + 250 = 1861.

The year of 1861 marked the beginning of the American Civil War, and the discovery of Thallium by Sir William Crooke. This past year in 2010, there was quite a bit of controversy surrounding how some southern states have chosen to observe or memorialize the 150-year-old succession from the Union and the Civil War.

I’m not actually saying any of this is significant, nor that Google intended people to derive some alternate number from the Roman numeral logo treatment! Google lends itself to Googling around, allowing one to find all sorts of loosely-connected trivia, while it’s also a powerful tool for real, directed research.

1861 was also the year that Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations was finally published.

Here’s hoping that you also have Great Expectations for the year of 2011, and that all your year’s goals will be fulfilled!


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