Today's Google Doodle celebrates the fact that today would have been Douglas Adam's 61st birthday. For any fans of Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy this isn't to be missed.
The interactive doodle takes us aboard the Heart of Gold spaceship where the towel - the essential travel item for any intergalactic voyager sits on the console besides the, also very necessary cup of tea, which is also a reference to the incident on the Heart of Gold and a reminder perhaps to read one of the much neglected Dirk Gently novel, The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.
Clicking on the screen displays the catchphrase "Don't Panic" that was also prominent on the cover of some editions of the Hitch Hiker's guide and clicking the screen produces several different "tutorials" starting with an explanation of the Babel Fish. A click on the lift door at the left of the doodle reveals Marvin the paranoid android - the right Marvin and not the film version.
If you click on the Search icon at the bottom right you'll access information about Douglas Adams, who died in 2001 at the age of 49. An Apple aficionado, Adams was fascinated by technology. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy started out as a radio series and later became a book, a TV show and finally a film.
In 1990 he dramatized his vision of the future. In Hyperland a TV documentary Adams falls asleep in front of a television and dreams about future time when he may be allowed to play a more active role in the information he chooses to digest. A software agent, Tom (played by Tom Baker of Dr Who fame), guides Douglas around a multimedia information landscape, looking at what was cutting-edge research at the time and also encountering hypermedia visionaries such as Vannevar Bush and Ted Nelson.
As the website DouglasAdams.com puts it:
Looking back now, it's interesting to see how much he got right and how much he didn't: these days, no one's heard of the SF Multimedia Lab, and his super-high-tech portrayal of VR in 2005 could be outdone by a modern PC with a 3D card. However, these are just minor niggles when you consider how much more popular the technologies in question have become than anyone could have predicted - for while Douglas was creating Hyperland, a student at CERN in Switzerland was working on a little hypertext project he called the World Wide Web...
Douglas Adams 11 March 1952 - 11 May 2001
We all need to keep in mind that science fiction is more than just fun. Star Trek created a generation of engineers wanting to build the things they saw in the TV series. The Hitch Hiker's Guide similarly influenced a generation - including many of the people working on today's futuristic research.