Soap bubbles: Sticky water molecules sandwiched by a surfactant with a hydrophilic head and hydrophobic tail expanded by breath into a sphere-seeking, slippery, thin film reflecting color wave interferences which samba through kaleidoscopic patterns of iridescent colors while compressing the most amount of air into a minimal area capable of withstanding the forces of gravity and evaporation before collapsing into a never-more, liquid pop.
Soap bubbles fascinate and delight for their beauty and fragility. A couple of years ago, when invited to participate in an art and science show in Fresno, I delved into the science of soap bubbles and came up with the 62-word definition above. Obviously, it doesn’t adequately capture either the wonder or the happiness created by these momentary delights.
This particular soap bubble has fascinated me since the bright, shiny San Francisco day when I took the photo. Many years ago, Richard had a device that would make these elongated gossamer rainbow catchers. It always irritated him when children delighted in popping them. And, you have to wonder what that impulse is to pop something beautiful that is going to self-destruct within seconds anyway.
I also wonder if it’s the very fragility of soap bubbles that takes our breath away. Soap bubbles are NOW. We have a second to be awed by them before they disappear never to be seen again. We can’t store them (except in photographs), we can’t say, “Oh, wait a minute, I’ll get back to you.” We have to pay attention while they’re in play. We have to let ourselves be thrilled by their shimmering colors during their glimmer of life.
What if soap bubbles offer us the most realistic of all metaphors of life? Savor it now, for in a second it will be gone.