Colored bubbles

November 20, 2005

Mike Haney's got an excellent article up on Popular Science titled, The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles. It's one of those inspiring feel-good stories that really makes you want to keep pressing on and producing, knowing that there are still problems yet to be solved and things yet to be created, and hoping to one day claim your well-deserved jackpot for figuring it all out. My favorite passages:

I started with Jell-O, because I thought, "Well, it's got pretty intense color. So I mixed Jell-O and Ivory soap. I got nothing." Undeterred, he went back to the store and tried food coloring. Then hair dye. Then ink. Within weeks, he was taking Sherri on dates to the grocery store, where he would buy as many colored products as he could afford. Back in his kitchen, he'd dump the Fruit Roll-Ups or Juicy Juice into a pan, heat it on the stove until he figured the color was loosened up, and pour in the dish soap. Only clear bubbles emerged.


Color remained elusive, but his try-anything approach kept plenty of other strange bubbles floating across his kitchen. One exploded with a loud bang. Another gave him chemical burns when it popped. The best one bounced, just like a Super Ball. He thought he could have sold that one, but he couldn't re-create it. He could rarely re-create any of his experiments. "I never wrote anything down," he says. "I'd get too excited as I was doing it. But once I lost that bouncing bubble, I was crushed. I started videotaping myself so that next time I'd know more than 'It was something on that side of the kitchen.' "


Ask Kehoe now to describe the day the first colored bubble appeared, and the details are fuzzy. He remembers dipping his wand into a pot of blue solution (although they produced clear bubbles, most of his solutions were colored by then) and looking at the quivering film, thinking that this one seemed different. He blew, and a bubble floated across the room. It was blue. He tried again. The next bubbles were blue too. He called Sherri in to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. No, she agreed, it was a blue bubble. As far as they knew, the world's first blue bubble. In his kitchen.

What the hell is up with PopSci's pagination? That entire story should have been on three pages max, not 11! I get that they want to hike up page views and ad impressions, but their scheme is a bit overkill — I can promise you that if I haven't clicked on an ad by page two, I probably won't on page 11. Hell, I don't think I've ever clicked on ad period, but that's beside the point, or is it?

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