Phone: 612-624-5551
unews@umn.edu
24-hr number: 612-293-0831

Advanced Search

This is an archived story; this page is not actively maintained. Some or all of the links within or related to this story may no longer work.

For the latest University of Minnesota news, visit Discover.

Feature

John Erck creates a very large soap bubble.

John Erck of the XTREME Bubble Team caps off a creation on Northrop Mall outside of Vincent Hall.

Not-so-tiny bubbles

By Rick Moore

Published on August 29, 2005

If nothing else, we are a culture that likes its records. Sports records? That goes without saying. Speed and distance? You bet. And as for the thousands (millions?) of other possible things you can do bigger or faster or more of than everyone else (think goldfish consumption and people stuffed in a phone booth), there's now a new one on the list--creating the world's largest soap bubble.

That's exactly what some folks set out to do on the Twin Cities campus on August 26, aided by some University expertise. The XTREME Bubble Team, a Minnesota-based company, attempted to establish a world record for the "largest free-floating soap bubble," a new category for the Guinness World Records.

Creating a really large bubble is seemingly difficult enough, and the team employed puppeteer-like tools including wands and ropes to try to pull off the feat. But how in the world does one measure a record-contending bubble that dances in the breeze and has a shelf life of just a few seconds? Running after it with a tape measure is more likely to get you on America's Funniest Home Videos than into the Guinness World Records book.

These bubbles are being measured by Monte Ramstad, founder of Minnesota-based Pokescope Products and a pioneer in the field of fully synchronized, three-dimensional digital photography. He photographed Friday's bubbles from multiple angles using synchronized digital cameras.

Interpreting those photos is where the University expertise comes in. Fadil Santosa, a University mathematics professor, will analyze the digital photographs with a special computer program to precisely calculate the bubbles' volume, and results will be submitted to Guinness World Records for consideration as a new record.

How big of a bubble will it take to stay in the record books for a while? That remains to be seen, and for that matter, results of the XTREME team's efforts won't be known for anther week or so. But according to the XTREME Web site, bubble enthusiasts think it may be possible to produce a free-floating bubble of nearly 30 feet in diameter, which would have a circumference of more than 94 feet.

In other words, while the sky may not be the limit, this isn't exactly child's play.

Related Links