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Toys Science

The 11 Year Soap Bubble 259

-Overdrive- writes "Popular Science has an interesting article about an inventor and his 11 year quest for Colored Bubbles" From the article: " It turns out that coloring a bubble is an exceptionally difficult bit of chemistry. A bubble wall is mostly water held in place by two layers of surfactant molecules, spaced just millionths of an inch apart. If you add, say, food coloring to the bubble solution, the heavy dye molecules float freely in the water, bonding to neither the water nor the surfactants, and cascade almost immediately down the sides. You'll have a clear bubble with a dot of color at the bottom. What you need is a dye that attaches to the surfactant molecules and disperses evenly in that water layer. Pack in more dye molecules, get a deeper, richer hue. Simple. Well, on paper anyway."
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The 11 Year Soap Bubble

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  • Yet another dup... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RKBA ( 622932 ) *
    Yet another dup...

    Mad Scientist Invents Colored Bubble []
    Posted by Zonk on Thursday November 17, @03:19PM

    Is expecting the /. editors to read the articls they post themselves too much to ask? Apparently so, and emailing the "on-duty editor" is a complete waste of time. Digg [] is looking better and better...

    • by halcyon1234 ( 834388 ) <> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:35AM (#14098996) Journal
      Just goes to show that it is easier to make duplicate stories than coloured soap bubbles.
      • The holy grail is of course achieveing differently colored dupes. Some combinations may be relatively easy, while others would be a very impressive feat indeed.
    • Yet another dup...
      The six day dupe bubble.
    • I completely agree.

      I'm beginning to think the slashdot editors read slashdot less than I do.
    • I didn't like that much. The comments were more inane (believe it or not), and the stories weren't as well laid out. I think people should just get mod points for stories on a -1 to 10 scale. Posts start at 0 and can be moderated up and down according to relevance. That way dupes get knocked down to -1 fairly quickly. Except by the people who make the "dupe" jokes... which ironically are dupes of jokes they have told early on other dupe posts...
      • Ditto. I prefer the commenting system (and the comments themselves) Slashdot has and the story system Digg has. Digg also looks much cleaner, imo, than Slashdot.
        Your idea is probably the best one I've heard about getting rid of dupes and slashvertisements without blatently stealing Digg's way of doing things. Recently it seems about a fifth of the stories on Slashdot are taken from Digg anyway (except, of course, Slashdot is at least a day late), just so some Slashdotter can get their name on the front page
    • by Imsdal ( 930595 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:49AM (#14099040)
      In all honesty, it should be noted that this was a duplicate on Digg as well...

      Also, I noted that the article referred to soap bubbles as "the world's most popular toy". Here is an interesting question for all of us: what is actually the world's most popular toy, and how do one measure it? I'm willing to bet a good amount soap bubbles isn't the correct answer...

      • Here is an interesting question for all of us: what is actually the world's most popular toy, and how do one measure it?

        well I think it's lego. and maybe it can be measured by amount of time spent playing with the toy? (you can buy something very expensive and play for a very short time, so money shouldn't be the measure).

      • Here's a few entries for your consideration:
        • The Teddy Bear
        • The Barbie Doll
        • The Slinky
      • I'm willing to bet a good amount soap bubbles isn't the correct answer...

        You're right, I've never managed to blow bubbles with my favorite toy. Best I can get is that windshield-washer effect first thing in the morning...
      • The wooden stick. Seriously, think about how much time you spent playing with sticks when you were young. They are free, readily available, and you can smack your friend upside the head with one.
      • World's most popular toy? Why that's an easy one...Let's just say that it's different for boys and girls, and that everyone has one. Oh, and soap bubbles can be used with it if you want...
      • you want to know the most _popular_ or the best _selling_ toy ???

        completly different things.

        any poor south american or african kid can cut a hollow straw from a plant, dissolve a small bar of soap (which can be home made too) in water and start blowing some bubbles. i used to do that with papaya straws when i was little. since those don't count in sales charts, the difference between "popular" and "best selling" can be huge.
    • What was the #2 Article to be posted. It could have been something that would have gotten a great response and worthy of the Reading of the numbers of people on slashdot. But the person who posted it got Rejected, and the story may never reach the masses. I remember my first rejected story "Ultra Sparc Laptops" then about 4 years later the actual story came out by someone else. And the only story that did get accepted was a post about a minor patch to OS X I just happened to be first because my Update OS
    • by MacGod ( 320762 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:17AM (#14099110)
      OK, please explain something to me, because I've never understood this. What is the big deal if a story is a dupe? It should be instantly obvious from the summary that you've read the article before, so why not just skip it? More importantly, why go to all the trouble of clicking on the description of the story you've already read, hitting reply, and then posting a diatribe about how it's a dupe and Slashdot is going further down the drain with every day and so on.

      This is especially true given the often-Libertarian nature of many of the comments on Slashdot. Many a time have I seen comments along the lines of "if people don't like violent video games, they should just not play them" etc. So why not apply the same logic to dupes? You see it, recognise it for what it is, and move on. There are plenty of other stories to check out.

      Sometimes, I miss the original story (if it was only posted to for example and not the front page, or if I just don't happen to click on the original). In those cases, the dupes are helpful. And they really don't seem to harm anyone, so who cares if they pop up from time to time?
      • so true. true with this story, btw, which I missed the first time - I'm glad it was duped.
      • Maybe slashdot should have a Dupeflag that does not show dupe stories to people who don't want to see them. I think it is good to have dupes, I am not 24/7 watching slashdot and the dupes are normally about something that is hot or something that is very cool, if I missed the first I get to see it again and skip it. If I did not see it in the first time then I am happy that there is a dupe because it if it didn't appeared I would never have seen the post. It happens that this one for instance, that I found
      • by popeyethesailor ( 325796 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:54AM (#14099201)

        Maybe some of us like things to be better?

        Maybe some of us think they'll correct themselves if we point this out again & again?

        Maybe it's just that we're nerds, and cant tolerate *OBVIOUS* mistakes, especially when it's trivial to prevent?

        You know, if you keep missing these posts, you might as well subscribe to the remaining sections too right ?

        Just a thought.
        • If you look at my recent journal post you'll see that those that had the best opportunities to "help" Slashdot become "better" were ignored repeatedly until even *I*, the Slashdot loving whore that I was, gave up.

          Zonk has a personal vendetta against anyone that defies his "vision" for Slashdot. His vision apparently includes posting duplicates to spite those that are just trying to help and blatantly ignoring those that are paying to try and make Slashdot better.

          Slashdot doesn't give a fuck and neither sho
          • Not trying to sound self-serving but if you want to see articles which were submitted by me but were rejected, check out my Journal [].

            Maybe not typical of what is submitted and rejected but at least you'll see some of the stories that Zonk refuses to post.

          • Who gives a fuck?

            And what needs to be improved? Sure, duplicate stories are redundant but I can just skip them. I usually do, too, because wars like this pop up every time.

            Slashdot is still one of the only places you can go and discuss issues without logging in. And, the moderation system *does* work, although it doesn't work exceptionally well. But it's better then most.

            I don't see why you think you need to improve it or bitch about it. I think it's fine. I don't love it or hate it; it's just Sla
      • > What is the big deal if a story is a dupe?

        It's sloppy journalism. It reduces the value of ads, as it puts people off returning to the site if they keep seeing repeats. It's boring, and suggests the people running the site don't even bother to read it. Given the site's nerdy nature it's amazing no-ones knocked up the simple code required to give at least a simple pass over the stories before they're posted looking for some correlation between a new story and existing stories. And it happens very freq
      • So what? So it's being presented as new news that's what! Flag it as a dupe if you're going to post it multiple times and allow those of us who read here somewhat often to IGNORE it. Kripes the other day they did a dupe that was just three entries below the original posting! I mean really, how bad is it to have a "news" site post two different links to the same story at the SAME time?

        I'm starting to like Digg more and more...
      • by zerocool^ ( 112121 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @08:17AM (#14099272) Homepage Journal

        Because slashdot has thousands of submissions each day. Every dupe is a story that could have been posted that might have been more interesting.
      • News for nerds. Stuff that matters.

        News implies newness. Of course, if we haven't seen it, it's new to us. But we have seen it.

      • by Mr. Underbridge ( 666784 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:15AM (#14099447)
        OK, please explain something to me, because I've never understood this. What is the big deal if a story is a dupe?

        People get irritated when they feel that 20% of the readers pay more attention to the site than the paid, so-called "editors."

      • by phlegmofdiscontent ( 459470 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:42AM (#14099615)
        Because they're obviously testing us, man. You see, right now the dupes are pretty damn easy to see, but eventually the dupes will get harder to spot and the stakes will get higher. Those who don't point out the dupes will be eliminated and the ones who point them out get lower numbers. In the end, there will be one person and he will be crowned King of Slashdot, and he will get girls. And touch their boobies.
        • My kingdom for some mod points. For that comment, sir, you should be awarded a special sneak preview accidental-but-on-purpose brush with your arm against said boobies (through clothes) in advance of judgement day.
      • Well for one thing it's really annoying to be modded down for a redundant comment, especially when the comment is appropriate, insightful, and well-written. It is particularly annoying when the comment was posted at nearly the same time as the comment with which it is apparently redundant meaning that no modding had taken place on the prior comment. So unless you've read through 200 comments at "1" just before you post, you get zapped.

        On the other hand, a quick scan of recent headlines could ascertain tha
    • I'd have to say that the level of dupes is getting to be quite ridiculous. It's interesting that you bring up the editorless model as a contrast. In theory the editor model is supposed to avoid dupes, but Digg is apparently doing a better job. Apparently.

      Perhaps given enough eyes, all dupes are obvious?

      Something is up with the Slashdot editor system. A lot of good submissions are left to fall by the wayside in order to allow in dupes. I for one would like to take a look at the pile of rejected submission to
      • Honestly? Go checkout Digg - I swear I find more neat stuff in their submission pile than I do their ever changing front page. I also see a whole lot of CRAP that is obviously self-serving to the original submitter but I don't vote that up and neither does anyone else.

        I too would like to have more insight into the stories being submitted here. Let us see what's skipped (I thought we could actually but have never figured out how)...
    • Perhaps they could put into the code that when someone submits an article it does an auto-search of past articles and comes up with a match. Kind of like Digg does.

      Also, have it to where anyone can post a story and it will be up to regular readers to be the editors and determine if the story makes it to the main page or not. Kind of like Digg does.

      Or better yet, just go to Digg. Digg would be much better if they had threaded comments though.
    • because, this early in the morning, I was thinking it was Thursday again.
    • Yet another dup...

      Explain to me who gives a smallest shit about this article being a dupe or not??? If you've read it on /. before or somewhere else -- just ignore it and move on. I always though this is the natural way of reading /. or any other site or article or whatever. Just don't freakin' troll around here and let people who haven't seen the article before (I haven't) discuss the matter.
    • Yet another dup...

      So what?

      Dupes have always been a part of slashdot - and it will probably be parts of slashdot in five years time too. It doesn't really matter in the big picture.

      Personally I just tend to *smile* when I see a duplicate of a story I liked. It reminds me of the previous time I read it - and in this case made a big grin on my face - due to remembering the coloured soap bubbles! :-)

  • Is it safe? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimmyhat3939 ( 931746 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:35AM (#14098994) Homepage
    Yes I know this article is a dupe. But I didn't comment last time around and had a thought...

    I noticed from the article that the dye they're using is a new/unusual organic compound. They're talking about people using the compound in their mouths (to know how long to brush their teeth), and the company's website shows pictures of kids playing with the bubbles.

    But... is this product even safe? I'm not an organic chemist by any means, but it seems to me that you'd want to do a significant amount of testing on any new compound to make sure that it's not going to have any long-term negative effects.
    Free 411! 1-800-411-SAVE []

    • Re:Is it safe? (Score:2, Insightful)

      " this product even safe? I'm not an organic chemist by any means, but it seems to me that you'd want to do a significant amount of testing on any new compound to make sure that it's not going to have any long-term negative effects."

      Can't be any worse than your run-of-the-mill organic compounds, like urine or Gatorade for example.
      • Re:Is it safe? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by azav ( 469988 )
        Or Tolulene, Benzene or Hexane.

        "Organic" chemistry simply means "with a carbon ring."

        Don't recommend eating any of the above unless you like cancer.
        • Oh baloney.

          It's obvious these bubbles are safe, as they were grown without using any pesticides or other chemicals whatsoever. Most probably these are also free-range bubbles.

          Sheesh, people, get with the newspeak!
    • But... is this product even safe? I'm not an organic chemist by any means, but it seems to me that you'd want to do a significant amount of testing on any new compound to make sure that it's not going to have any long-term negative effects.

      Do you have any reason to doubt that there would be a significant amount of testing of chemicals in toys and toothpastes, or why do you ask?

      I don't know exactly what lactone they're using. Could be interesting to know, as "a lactone" can be anything from menthol to some
      • Do you have any reason to doubt that there would be a significant amount of testing of chemicals in toys and toothpastes

        Well, I found his concern valid.
        There is debate wherever fluoride would be a risk to health []. Fluoride IS toxic, hence regulation on how much you can put in a tube of toothpaste (overhere at least).

        DTT [] was once considered harmless. People showered in the stuff! Or what about Asbestos? Smoking was once considered harmless and some still do. There are alot of examples [] like this [], as things o

        • Well, I found his concern valid.

          Well, I wasn't questioning whether this compound or others can or can not be harmful. Neither am I arguing against the fact that things that have been tested and found harmless will be re-evaluated as we gain practical/clinical and widespread experience and knowledge. I just thought it was obvious that stuff in toys and dental products ARE tested, at least that's what it's like over here (Sweden, EU).

          Besides, how do we know that the photos of kids playing with bubbles on the
        • [DDT] was once considered harmless. People showered in the stuff!

          Geez, did you even read the wikipedia article you linked?

          DDT is not particularly toxic to humans, compared to other widely used pesticides. In particular, no link to cancer has yet been established. Numerous studies have been conducted, including one in which humans voluntarily ingested 35 mg of DDT daily for almost two years. DDT is often applied directly to clothes and used in soap, with no demonstrated ill effects.

          The DDT ban wasn't th

    • I read the article last time and it indicates that the dye chemist the inventor hired spent years developing an agent that can reflect color when the soap bubble is formed and break apart so it effectively turns invisible when the bubble pops. It all had to be made of organic molecules like soap bubbles, water washable, and free of any toxins. Otherwise the big toy companies would not accept the product. The inventor's 11 year quest finally paid off when all of those conditions were satisfied.

      Yet, your q
    • I'm reminded of pictures of kids running around playing in the spray of the neighborhood DDT truck in the 1950s.....
    • But... is this product even safe?

      The bubbles get their color from a lactone-ring [], which is a natural organic molecule built from hydrogen and oxygen atoms. One of the problems he experience was that colored bubbles would leave stains on everything they touched (dogs, cats, wallpaper, carpets, cars, people). By using this unstable molecule, the dye will break down as soon as it is agitated, as it is protected by the soap molecules. By all accounts it would probably break down into water and oxygen, and a bit
      • > By using this unstable molecule, the dye will break down as soon as it
        > is agitated, as it is protected by the soap molecules. By all accounts
        > it would probably break down into water and oxygen, and a bit of methane.

        Break down into what? Absolutely no-one has indicated exactly what that means, except the original source of the story which talks about a string turning into a ring - doesn't sound like it's "dissolving into air and water".

        By all accounts? Whose accounts? The fact that everyone s
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:42AM (#14099019)
    ... that whenever there is a dupe, there are people like the above posters telling everyone that it is a dupe. In reality, their comments are merely duplicates of previous posts. If duplication is really an issue for you at slashdot, either:

    a. attempt to become a staff member
    b. submit some non duplicated content.

    halfway down this preachy tirade, I realize that someone already has probably told the dupe police here that what they are doing, is in fact, duplicating duplicates. So I find myself dubiously duplicating the disasterous duties of other dupe police dislikers.

    FFS, talk about the article, say something funny/insightful/etc, or troll around to waste time at work. I'snt that why we come to /. anyways?

    OT: Hope that didn't burst anyone's bubble :)

  • So I can have that feeling of Deja Vu... all over again, Slashdot style.

  • The rate of at which Slashdot runs stories that appeared on BoingBoing first is getting embarrassing.
    • The same story gets repeated across the whale-like behemoth blogs over the period of about a week. mefi/fark/bb/slashdot/wired and even 'specialists' like tuaw/gizmodo/engadget.

      The really amusing thing is, despite all pointing at the same sources and often saying the same things, these big blogs never acknowledge that the story has been on other sites before them.

      Slashdot it special though, it'll dupe them again and again.
    • The rate of at which Slashdot runs stories that appeared on Slashdot first is getting embarrassing too.
  • by afaik_ianal ( 918433 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @06:59AM (#14099073)
    ... that doesn't talk about this article being a dupe!

    Oh - I did it too, didn't I?
  • why all the dupes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by drownie ( 901913 )
    We have this nice moderation system ... it can't be too difficult to change the story submissions to a system with checks. I'm thinking about a mixture of digg and slashdot. Just let a group of slashdot readers preread everything and vote on stories ( with a big "DUPE!" button ).

    The editors still choose the stories but we have some kind of quality control.

    This dupe btw could have been avoided with a little script to compare the text and the links in the story with all the stories submitted in the last weeks

    • You're absolutely right...on all counts.

      And yet, such a system as you envision still has not been implemented.

      What does that tell you?
    • Better hurry up. and .net are taken, but .org is available. I have an old pentium pro in storage that you are welcome to. You may want a couple [] other [] web [] servers [] to help with load balancing.

      All jackassery asside (and yes, that is a tranvistive verb, so I guess not all, pi) instead of always bitching on /. about /., put your code where your mouth is and get it done. Even if you are not a coding wizard, there are any number of portals and blogging scripts available, so no excuses. I, mysel

  • no dup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mennucc1 ( 568756 ) <> on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @07:06AM (#14099088) Homepage Journal
    hi Cowboy Neal, here is my advice to you.
    You should add a small snippet of code and insert it into the publication process; this snippet of code extracts all URLs from the href's in the proposed posting, and searches all posting of last 18months to see if they appear somewhere: in that case, a HUGE RED warning will flash on the screen, asking the post writer (and/or the editor) to check that the proposed posting is not a duplicate.
    For example, Nov 11, the posting Mad Scientist Invents Colored Bubbles appears in ./ and contains the URL 97010vgnvcm1000004eecbccdrcrd.html
    Then in Nov 23, when ScuttleMonkey proposes The 11 Year Soap Bubble, the script notices that that same URL has already appeared in Mad Scientist Invents Colored Bubbles and warns , and we avoid seeing this dup post.
    • You should add a small snippet of code and insert it into the publication process; this snippet of code extracts all URLs from the href's in the proposed posting,

      Wouldn't work. Many submitters like to link both the specific page and the top level domain, like:

      According to thinktank Gartner [] analysts Martin Reynolds and Mike McGuire, Sony's XCP technology is stymied by sticking a fingernail-size piece of opaque tape [] on the outer edge of the CD.

      However, you could make an exception list of popular referrin

  • The actual bubbles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Imperium ( 222271 )
    Well, I missed the original story, so I don't mind the duplication. As for the actual substance, traditional soap bubbles are multicoloured, swirly and beautiful anyway. Monocoloured bubbles look very boring by comparison. What a waste of effort!
  • ...about non-breaking bubbles. Replace water or surfacant with quickly drying glue. Keep the bubble in air till the shell hardens. For more effect, dye lightly with phosphorescent paint and inflate with helium instead of air...
  • Waste of time? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @08:11AM (#14099258) Journal
    Maybe it's just me, but it really sounds like he should have just spent the money to hire a real chemist in the first place, rather than spending about 10 years on trial and error, and causing lots of damage.
    • by acomj ( 20611 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:28AM (#14099499) Homepage
      I got the same thing from the article. The scientist only gets a brief mention. The inventor wasted tons of time and money as well as risking his health, guessing and trying to solve the problem hap hazzardly. He failed, so he got some capital then found a dye expert to figure out the solution.

      hope they're paying the dye science guru guy well..

      • the dye guy needed 500k (he is a one of a handful of people in the world with a phd in his field), and for expenses incurred in the development.

        500k to create a whole new class of immensely useful dyes is a STEAL!

        im sure that the first guy did not spend 500k on his kitchen experimentation. he just needed proper funding sources.
    • Re:Waste of time? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by porcupine8 ( 816071 )
      I doubt he had the cash on hand to hire a PhD (in a field with very few experts worldwide) before the venture capital came in. It says he was making like $30K a year to work on this PLUS a bunch of other toy ideas originally - I doubt the chemist was paid only $30K.
  • Was I the only one who read the title as The X11 Year Soap Bubble? I'm going to bed now.
  • by vistic ( 556838 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:00AM (#14099395)
    They have a video on their website of what these things look like: wf []

  • by Anita Coney ( 648748 ) on Wednesday November 23, 2005 @09:05AM (#14099408) Homepage
    "First go like this, spin around. Stop! Double take three times. One, two three. Theeeen PELVIC THRUST. Whoooo, Whooooooo. Stop on your right foot, DON'T FORGET IT! Now it's time to bring it around town. Bring-it-around-town. Then you do this, then this, and this, then this, then that, then this and that..."
  • Awesome! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by danfreak ( 876571 )
    Sweet! I wants some! I can't wait for Feb! And it's an awesome article too - the issue of saftey is a good one, but does anyone really think that any company would release this in todays legal climate without it being kosher? The other applications for the dye sound really cool too...

    "a finger paint that fades from every surface except a special paper, a hair dye that vanishes in a few hours, and disappearing-graffiti spray paint. There's a toothpaste that would turn kids' mouths a bright color until they

  • Not just bubbles (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AntiDragon ( 930097 )
    Maybe it's the subject line, maybe it's the dupe factor but it seems the real point is being missed here.

    It's not the bubbles that are important.
    It's the *dye*.

    A dye that will fade to nothing in air, or because of friction, or with plain water - anywhere, infact, other than in specific materials (i.e. the bubble solution), is fantastic! Anywhere where colour would be desired but has previously been avoided because of it's permanancy is now a target.

    Yes, toys (ink grenades or coloured water gun fights anyon
    • > It's not the bubbles that are important.
      > It's the *dye*
      >A dye that will fade to nothing in air, or because of friction, or with plain water

      Also DRM for paintings, and books. may even send out a book with a single page, that just fades to the next. Now you better be a fast reader if yor reading outside in Arizona during August.

      I wonder about the bubbles also, I assume they can't deliver them in the summer, unless in AirConditioned truck, and you better not leave the container in the sun, or you
  • Yeah! You know who you are!

    Go shower and put on some clean duds or no beer and pizza for you tonight.
  • He spends years trying to color crap in his kitchen before he asks a chemist? He relies on consumer-grade detergents that contain a stew of fragrances and dyes and who knows what without obtaining some of known composition? This is not how you solve problems.

    And the dye does not just go away. It does not disappear - it just becomes colorless. What ever toxicity it might have is still on your hands, clothes, and the dog.

    And what about disappearing ink? The reporter never heard of that?
  • tried to make dark bubbles by mixing chinese ink with soap. It didn't color one bit. The layer was too thin. I skipped the '11 year' part tho.

Where it is a duty to worship the sun it is pretty sure to be a crime to examine the laws of heat. -- Christopher Morley