Google on Wednesday honoured renowned Czech chemist Otto Wichterle, who invented the soft contact lens to change the life of millions of people around the world.
Wichterle was born on this day in 1913 in Prostĕjov, the Czech Republic (then, Austria-Hungary). After finishing high school (today’s Wolker Grammar School) in Prostějov, Wichterle chose science for his career.
He began to study at the Chemical and Technological Faculty of the Czech Technical University (now the independent University of Chemistry and Technology, Prague) but he was also interested in medicine.
He graduated in 1936 and then went on to earn his doctorate in organic chemistry 1936 from the Prague Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT).
He even taught as a professor at his alma mater during the 1950s while developing an absorbent and transparent gel for eye implants.
A wearer of glasses himself, he produced the first soft contact lenses with a DIY apparatus made of a child’s erector set a bicycle light battery, a phonograph motor, and homemade glass tubing and molds.
Due to his exemplary work as an inventor and researcher, he was elected the first President of the Academy of the Czech Republic following the country’s establishment in 1993.
The Google Doodle page on him states: “While Wichterle is most well-known as the inventor of contact lenses, his innovations also laid the foundation for state-of-the-art medical technologies such as “smart” biomaterials, which are used to restore human connective tissues, and bio-recognizable polymers, which have inspired a new standard for drug administration. “
Later in his career, an asteroid was named after him in the year 1993. Furthermore, a high school in Ostrava (in the district of Poruba) in the Czech Republic was named after him on September 1, 2006.