Google's daily doodles may be one of the most unexpected (and fun) ways to get in a dose of unexpected knowledge, but everyone's favorite search engine chose to celebrate a very timely hero with its latest pick.
Born in Oslo, Nansen's achievements span continents and humanitarianism. He started out by channeling his passion for cross-country skiing, which is what Google decided to depict in its newest doodle, but that activity led to a love of zoology and exploration. After time in academia, Nansen felt the allure of the outdoors again and became the first man to lead an expedition across Greenland's icy interior. After that, he attempted to become the first man to reach the North Pole, but fell short and earned the distinction of getting closer than anyone before, reaching the northernmost latitude of any explorer.
After World War I, however, Nansen's focus shifted. Because the political climate around the globe kept him bound to Norway, he worked as hard as he could to affect the world outside of his home country. Seeing all the displaced refugees and prisoners of war after WWI, he worked tirelessly to fight for their rights.
Google notes that Nansen became known as one of the world's greatest humanitarians after he shifted his efforts to repatriate refugees and establish the Nansen Passport. The new document, which was valid in 52 countries, allowed refugees and freed prisoners of war to reintegrate and emigrate without fear or being rejected for lack of documentation. His work, from exploration to repatriation, was recognized in 1922, when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Even though the Nansen Passport is no longer in use, it did lead to the development of new documents issued by the United Nations, such as certificates of identity and refugee travel documents.
Back in 2011, Google celebrated Nansen's 150th birthday with a different doodle, although it was only released in Norway. Today's illustration will have a wider reach, with users in Russia, northern Africa, Indonesia, the United States, Canada, and Ireland getting in on the festivities.
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