Bubbles in Space
Donald Pettit, the American astronaut, loves science. On the International Space Station he has many tasks but has added experiments to his free time as well. In this video he makes use of one of the little perks that they allow astronauts, one of his "crew preferences" (snacks and treats) during a long mission was to bring along some of the little sweet "candy corn". But he had science in mind. He had thought of a way to use the weightless environment to show how soap molecules, with their water-loving ends and water-hating ends, can surround a particle of oil in order to help us wash it out of our clothes or off of our bodies. Pretend that the water blob he is using in this demo is a blob of oil and pretend that the candy corn are soap molecules floating in water (the air is the water) ...
A British science magazine called New Scientist was asked by one of their readers if it was possible for a soap bubble to produce a torus shape (this is the shape of a inner tube or doughnut). Two mathematicians answered. The first said that it was not possible because soap bubbles always assume minimal shapes and a torus is not a minima. The other mathematician, Frank Morgan, responded saying that he would have agreed but he'd met Tom Noddy. He sent a photograph of me with a Torus Bubble ... here is a photo by the German Photographer Matthias Leitzke showing the torus [insert pic phaeno_Matthias Leitzke] and a video by Israeli bubble enthusiast Romi Shamai showing it in normal time and then in slow motion.
An episode of a BBC mathematics programme focused on the math of minimal forms and they asked if I could contribute. We set up in a small theater and exchanged ideas. They filmed the results and edited it beautifully into their programme. I'm very pleased with this one.