Soap Opera

Things I notice when I’m in the kitchen waiting for something to finish cooking on the stove, and there’s nothing to do but watch the water in the dishpan:

1. Soap bubbles act as though they’re gravitationally attracted to each other. When there’s a large cluster of bubbles over here, and a lone bubble (or smaller cluster of bubbles) about an inch or so away over there, the lone bubble will move toward the large cluster, very slowly at first, and then gradually accelerating until it merges with the cluster. I know nothing about the physics and chemistry behind this phenomenon. (Something to do with surface tension?)

2. My eggbeater seems to have an air pocket in the handle. When I put it in the dishpan, it emits a slow and steady stream of bubbles. Most of the time, dishpan suds contain bubbles of various sizes all mixed together; but the bubbles coming out of the eggbeater handle are of uniform size, which presumably explains what happens, next, namely, that as the bubbles rise to the surface they spontaneously organise themselves into regular hexagonal grids. Order from chaos, man.


4 Responses to Soap Opera

  1. Brandon December 27, 2016 at 10:05 am #

    You’re cooking and eating soap? I thought I had a passion for cleanliness, but you’ve raised the bar for us all.

  2. MBH December 27, 2016 at 6:31 pm #

    I wonder if it’s order from chaos as in chaos-(re)configured-into-order or as in order-revealed-within-apparent-chaos?

  3. Anton Sherwood March 6, 2017 at 3:38 pm #

    My guess for the first: just as the water surface rises where it meets the walls of the vessel (unless the vessel is of a non-wettable material), it rises around bubbles sitting on the surface, and new bubbles follow that slope upward.

  4. Irfan Khawaja March 31, 2017 at 8:31 pm #

    “And to me too, who love life, it seems that butterflies and soap bubbles, and whatever is like them among men, know most about happiness.

    To see these light, foolish, dainty, affecting little souls flutter about–that moves Zarathustra to tears and to song.”

    –Nietzsche, “Of Reading and Writing,” in Thus Spoke Zarathustra

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