Soap Bubbles Everywhere

Since soap bubbles minimizing surface area or energy provide the typical model for my research in the calculus of variations, I receive lots of related and unrelated reports from friends. My former student Kevin Hahm ’07 sent me a link to an amazing video of water droplets bouncing on a water surface. They don’t merge into the water immediately because of a thin film of air in between. The great performer Tom Noddy often similarly shows little soap bubbles bouncing and rolling around the inside of a large bubble:


Tom recently sent me an article about planning relatively short routes for underground power lines that avoid getting close to historic buildings and compared them to efficient networks produced by soap films:

Picture 2

Mark Sutton ’93 sent me this story on colored bubbles. Finally, a recent YouTube video shows bubbles emerging from the mouth of a Tom Noddy would-be.

P.S. Tom Noddy responds:

Frank,┬áThat’s terrific! I hope to include a link on my site to that page.

Astronaut Donald Pettit spent time aboard the International Space Station “playing” with films and bubbles. He carried a copy of C.V. Boys’ book on soap bubbles with him and his intent was to include soap bubbles experiments but he discovered some amazing properties of pure water films in space and he never got around to adding the soap.

Let me offer, here, a link to follow up what was shown in the link on your site to the highspeed camera showing the water drop falling onto the body of water. As you will see, it is the same process but this time taking place within a bubble of air that is within a sphere of water … in space.

Tom Noddy