Bubbles & Math

Last month, mathematician Karen Uhlenbeck won the Abel Prize for her discovery of a phenomenon called “bubbling”.

The way she describes bubbles is quiet poetic:

“Bubbles are emptiness, non-liquid, a tiny cloud shielding a mathematical singularity,” he wrote. “Born from chance, a violent and brief life ending in the union with the nearly infinite.”

And this nugget caught my eye:

A soap bubble is the physical world’s solution for a mathematical challenge: to minimize a surface area — in this case, one that surrounds a prescribed volume of air. Nature is always seeking to optimize, to maximize gain at minimal cost in energy cost.

Bubbles sound like capitalists.