Jules Verne celebrated in today’s interactive Google Doodle

February 8, 2011, 2:28 PM UTC

Jules Verne, the science fiction pioneer and visionary was born 183 years ago today.

It is hard to imagine that Jules Verne wrote Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) right after the Civil War in the US and Second Empire in his native France.

Google (GOOG) Doodler Jennifer Hom wrote:

Today’s doodle, celebrating Verne’s 183rd birthday, tries to capture that sense of adventure and exploration. Using CSS3 (and with help from our resident tech wizards Marcin Wichary and Kris Hom), the doodle enables anyone to navigate the Nautilus down (nearly) 20,000 leagues with the simple pull of a lever. And for those using devices with built-in accelerometers and the latest versions of Google Chrome or Firefox, it’s even simpler—just tilt your device in the direction you want to explore and the Nautilus will follow.

Vernes works were so influential (and his predictions so relevant) that the US Navy named the first nuclear submarine the Nautilus (80 years) after the submarine in 20,000 Leagues. That’s not entirely an accident.  One of Verne’s teachers and early influencers was French inventor Brutus de Villeroi, professor of drawing and mathematics at the college in 1842, and who later became famous for creating the US Navy’s first submarine, the USS Alligator.

Another interesting story that has to be inspirational to Google:

In 1863, Jules Verne wrote a novel called Paris in the 20th Century about a young man who lives in a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, and a worldwide communications network, yet cannot find happiness and comes to a tragic end. Hetzel thought the novel’s pessimism would damage Verne’s then booming career, and suggested he wait 20 years to publish it. Verne put the manuscript in a safe, where it was discovered by his great-grandson in 1989. It was published in 1994.

You can find his full works here.