Tiny Bubbles

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I’m three days behind posting to Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  I don’t know how it happened. It’s certainly not because I’ve been lazy during the last week. I was so knackered yesterday (actually not yesterday, but never mind) after coming home from two dives that I slept fourteen hours last night, possibly a personal record. Maybe my body is whispering something to me.

So, here I sit on Sunday morning, hoping dearly to go to the beach and needing to write three posts – this one is for Friday. It’s getting grim. Therefore, I check marked the little box under Categories titled Humor  to give myself a challenge. Right! Excuse me for a moment while I retrieve a beer from the bar fridge to fortify myself. We’ll see if I can stand up to my own challenge. The clown’s gauntlet has been thrown down. Do I have The Right Stuff to pick it up? We shall see.

I had some cockamamie idea of comparing water drops to bubbles. My half-baked theory was that water drops are bubbles turned inside out. While this appeals strongly to my sense of whimsy, alas, upon careful examination, this reduces to ignorance of the nature of both. Let’s examine this example:

Now, clearly there are many similarities between bubbles and water drops. They are both formed by the surface tension of a . . . er . . . surface at the interface between two substances which may or may not be identical. Confused yet? If you are not, then please hurry to catch up with me. Surface tension most efficiently reduces the energy required to containerise whatever is being contained. We learn this simple fact in Physics 101. I aspired to be a physicist, but refused to do the maths homework. So much for physics. Anyway, surface tension tugs everything together and packs it neatly in a near-sphere. That’s why the little kid can blow perfectly round bubbles every time from the bubble toy. Skill doesn’t enter into it. Physics does all the hard work.

The crucial difference is, of course, that a bubble is a film (Hah, you thought film was dead, eh? – AAAAAAANNNHHHH!  WRONG!) which separates two gasses (Or two liquids, I suppose, as in the case of a Lava Lamp, and, yes, I do  have one.), while a drop is liquid contained by surface tension into a more or less round shape and surrounded by a gas.

A couple of other differences are illustrated by the stunning image above. Drops are saggy, according to their size. Little drops sag little and big drops sag more. Ladies, this explains a lot. It’s a battle between the astoundingly strong power of surface tension and the puny little tug of gravity. Think about it. We can walk around, jump up and down an whoop and holler and even fly, more or less, while being pulled down relentlessly by an entire planet!  Gravity is pathetic. Gravity is the 97 pound weakling of the physical forces.

The other difference is that, while bubbles can make pretty reflections, they can’t act as lenses, at least as long as the gas inside has the same index of refraction at the gas outside. I told you this is humour. Now, wasn’t that funny? Come on, work with me. No, usually bubbles don’t work well as lenses, but drops can. Click to enlarge the image above and examine the beautiful lensing in the drop. You can clearly see the upside-down flowers and stems behind it. *

Both drops and bubbles can be very pretty. I see them nearly every morning in my garden. I love to stroll in my garden in the morning. It makes me feel very manly. Yes, it is a manly garden. Never mind that the gardener is our haus meri  Juli, who will not tolerate me so much as pulling a weed: This is just as well, since I wouldn’t know which are weeds until I’m told. Early on, I once pulled out a huge patch of aibika  which seemed to me to be a useless, bug eaten, scraggly nuisance. She was enraged and scolded me most severely. “Hey, stupid! We EAT aibika.  It’s good  stuff!” Thereafter, I allowed myself to be satisfied by supervising in a Country Gentleman manner. Actually, I’ve come to like aibika.  The bug holes make it dissolve into a slimy green mess much more efficiently.

As I said, drops can be quite pleasant to view as long as they are not falling on your forehead one-by-one for hours during a Chinese Water Torture. Here’s a close-up of the ones above:See, they look bigger now. This is what close-ups do. Notice how each drop focuses the sun’s rays into a tiny dot. It might be possible to use these as miniature magnifying glasses to fry tiny ants. I’ll have to try that sometime. I’m not sure that I have any tweezers small enough.

Of course, my favourites in my Manly Garden are my Manly Orange Lilies. This one has just stepped from the shower:

Excuse the lily-porn. If you look at the top petal you can see, through the thin material, the outline of drops on the back side. This is the first time that I’ve noticed this. Obviously, I need to pay more attention to wet, naked flowers.

No, we’re not finished with lilies yet. You won’t get off that easy. Here is another one soaked to the skin:

Now, I could, at this point, allow this to degrade into a low-brow essay containing poetic allusions about the opening of petals and the moistness of . . . No, wait, I’m not going there. This is a family-friendly site . . . so far.

Since I never take only one picture of a single flower, I turned around the other way and shot it from the other side. Sounds brutal, eh?

Well, I told you. It’s a Manly Garden.

* This is the sad lot of the photographer. We brave perilous gardens full of mosquitoes and great hairy spiders to take photographs of itsy-bitsy things and then slave for hours over a hot computer to create images that will be viewed once for two seconds.and evoke a mild “Hmmm . . .” at best. It’s a pathetic and narcissistic pursuit. The most it has ever paid me keeps beer in the fridge. However, it does allow me to fancy myself an artíst.

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6 Responses to “Tiny Bubbles”

  1. Colin Says:


    Your talents are completely wasted in that “hell-hole” called Madang! You should get yourself involved in those “nature” TV shows, like the Attenborough nature ones.

    I look at your blog every day and just sit in ‘awe’ of your fantastic photography and the comments associated with the scenes. I have forwarded your blog to friends around the World and they do not comment, but inform me by e-mail just how much they, like me, are amazed. I have then asked them why don’t you comment?
    The simple answer is – your photos and comments are so great that they are not game to say anything for fear of being “foolish”.

    The Provence or whatever they call the different districts up there from my time, 1963-69, should pay you in “heaps” for promoting what was once, to be, the tourist paradise but now has been left by corruption to become a “political stink-hole”.

    By God, what I now read of what has happened to beautiful Finschhafen in the Morobe District, I bloody-well cry. NOTHING!

    Anyhow thanks for the beautiful photos and the memories of what could be – at present that is impossible because of Administration corruption, makes Mugabee sometimes look like “Mickey Mouse”.

    Cheers mate
    Colin ( ex-Finschhafen 63/69)

  2. Steve Bennett Says:

    Those Daylillies are edible too.

  3. MadDog Says:

    Well, Steve, that’s very useful, because I have plenty of them. Do you perchance have a recipe?

  4. MadDog Says:

    Sheesh, Colin. You’re giving me a fat head. However, it feels good to know that real people out there enjoy what to me are real stories. There is so much artificial stuff out there that seems shallow and dull to me. I do my best to please myself every day with something interesting. It’s a wonderful synergy that this simple act also brings something interesting into several thousand other lives each day. It amazes and humbles me.

    I find it sad that more people do not comment. I cherish those comments which I do get. They are really what keep me going. I dearly wish that more people would interact with me. It seems to me that there is no such thing as a foolish comment, unless it is criticising me for poking fun at Brtitny Spears. I try to answer every comment in way that respects the opinions of the person who took time to write it.

    “Political Stink-Hole” Hah! That one gave me a good giggle. It’s getting downright scary up here. You would be very sad indeed to see the sorry state of nearly all of the infrastructure. The roads are disappearing, you can’t run a business without a generator, TELIKOM has just simply given up keeping the copper lines repaired – the list goes on and on. It takes six months to get a business visa!

    It really is my pleasure to bring this daily cartoon strip of my life to my readers.

    Cheers to you also, mate.
    MadDog (Madang 81 / until dead)

  5. Ahna Says:

    I absolutely love to read what you do. I envy you to be in a beautiful place. Yes, I do not know enough about that part of the world but I love telling people where you are at and what you and my lovely Auntie do. Trust me what you do there is a hell of a lot more interesting than the Hell Hole I live in. Down right depressing with what is going on here with our children, schools, government, hospitals and so forth. I imagine it is the same all over the world but in different forms.

    Keep coming with your daily cartoon strip of life. I love it and the whole family reads them (Tim, I, Autumn, and Bri – Emily likes the pictures). I agree you need to be paid more with the information you share.

  6. MadDog Says:

    What a joy it is to get a comment such as yours, Ahna. It doesn’t matter much where one lives. Life can get tedious and depressing even in Paradise. There are lots of nasty things here which I do not much talk about.

    Your Aunite Eunie is soon going to Fiji to represent the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of THE ENTRIE NATION OF PNG at an international conference. She’s getting to be quite the public figure. I get introduced as “Eunice Messersmith’s husband.” That always makes me giggle. My life-long dream has been to be a kept man.